Nikki Goeser is a lady in her mid-40’s who graduated from the University of Tennessee, went to work as a financial adviser at a local technical college at Nashville and in 2008 married the ‘love of her life’ Ben. Her husband was a commercial designer who did fix-it work on the side and he and Nikki also did a karaoke show at various Nashville restaurants and bars.

              On the night of April 2, 2009, they were doing a karaoke gig when Nikki spotted a guy in the audience who had been to some of their previous shows and had then started sending Nikki some inappropriate messages through MySpace which she ignored.

              All of a sudden, the guy was sitting next to her husband. Then he went to the bathroom, came back out, walked over to where Ben was sitting putting a batch of songs into the computer, pulled out a Colt-45 pistol, and after shooting Ben in the head, continued standing over him and popping six more rounds.

              The shooter calmly walked away from the spot where he had just killed another man, and was promptly tackled by a U.S. Marine who, with the help of several other customers, disarmed the guy and held him down until the cops arrived.

              It turns out the guy who killed Nikki’s husband had been stalking Nikki for months. He had never spoken to her but had sent her endless internet messages and for some reason, never explained, was obsessed with her and felt that Ben’s existence was keeping him from getting into a relationship with this woman who was lighting up his life.

              When Nikki first saw this guy pull his gun, she immediately realized that she had left her own gun locked in her car. The restaurant where Ben and Nikki were doing their karaoke show had a gun-free policy, typical of public spaces where liquor is served. As the shooter pulled out his weapon, Nikki thought to herself: “Oh my God, I don’t have my gun! He is going to shoot somebody and I don’t have my gun!” [p. 22] I will return to Nikki’s comment below.

              After several more emotionally-charged chapters covering the immediacy of this terrible event, Nikki then then covers the events leading up to and covering the shooter’s trial, for which he was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 20 years. These chapters are written beautifully, and they remind me of Dominick Dunne’s description of the trial of the man who killed his daughter which appeared in Vanity Fair.

              For me to compare the writing of any newly published author to the prose of Dominick Dunne is to make it clear that the author whose book I am reviewing has a great deal of talent when it comes to telling a story which you might want to read.

              That being said, of course I also have to make some critical comments about this book, if only because every book review needs to be somewhat balanced between the good and the bad. In this instance, what I am calling ‘bad’ are the last few chapters in which Nikki Goeser swerves away from a heart-rending and personal account about the emotional and social traumas that she has survived and gives us the usual song-and-dance about why everyone should be walking around with a gun.

              To that end let me refer again to Nikki’s statement that she was unable to help her husband avoid getting killed because she didn’t have her gun. According to her story, maybe two or three seconds at most passed from the time she realized the assailant had a gun until the time her husband took a round in the head.

              What could Nikki have done with her gun if it had been in her pocket instead of out in the car? Nothing. Not one, goddamn thing.

              This is the biggest problem with gun violence, a problem discussed brilliantly by Lester Adelson, who was Cuyahoga County coroner (Cleveland) for nearly 40 years, so he saw plenty of people whose lives were ended by the use of a gun. Adelson sums it up this way:

. “With its peculiar lethality, a gun converts a spat into a slaying and a quarrel into a killing. Facile access to firearms is an invitation to their wrongful use by the neurotic, the psychotic, and the socially maladjusted.”

              By the time Nikki Goeser gets done talking about the trial of her husband’s killer, there’s simply no doubt that this guy exactly fit Lester Adelson’s description of the kind of individual who will use a gun in a ‘wrongful’ way. And the real problem is that most of these nut-jobs plan their ‘wrongful’ behavior well in advance, and the idea that someone legally authorized to carry a gun will proactively prevent such individuals from carrying out their misdeed is a wonderful fantasy but simply is not true.

              That being said, for the clarity of its language and the emotional impact of its tone, I recommend Nikki Goeser’s book as a good, solid and informative read.