True Crime Analysis, Breakthroughs, Insights & Discussions Hosted by Bestselling Author Nick van der Leek

Is the Criticism Against TWO FACE Valid?

The latest review of TWO FACE describes it as being 50% accurate “at best”. And the rest goes downhill from there:

Wildly inaccurate, a total work of fiction. This case is less than 2 months old and there’s extremely limited knowledge made public. Even the sample is at best 50% accurate. There were no cadaver dogs, they were search & tracking dogs. Cadavar dogs do not bark to alert their handlers either. The story the book tells is pure speculation, which [you] can read for free in any facebook group + copy & paste from news reports.
They’re not even cold in the ground yet and people are already trying to turn a profit and writing books based off of wild imaginations.

The main points in the review are summarized below:

  1. Wildly inaccurate, a total work of fiction. The main gripe in the review appears to be about accuracy.
  2. This inaccuracy claim is reinforced with the notion that the knowledge about the case is currently “extremely limited”, and thus any narrative about it [let alone two] has to be extremely limited also.
  3. As an example of the gross inaccuracy, the use of cadaver dogs [as highlighted in TWO FACE] is criticized.
  4. And to bolster the notion that cadaver dogs weren’t used, the reviewer notes that “cadaver dogs do not bark to alert”.
  5. You can read all you need to know about the Watts case on Facebook, for free.
  6. The book was written too soon in a cynical effort to make money.
  7. The idea of the book was to spin an imaginative yarn, and steal money from the public by deceiving them with speculations dressed-up as facts.

Now let’s deal with these 7 claims individually.

  1. The first section in TWO FACE deals with the timeline of events. A timeline is by default a factual narrative that’s anchored in time. In other words, at what time did Nickole Utoft Atkinson raise the alarm? When the police get the call and what time did they arrive at the Watts home? Where was Chris Watts at that time? What time did he return home? While he was out, and on his way, did he provide the cops with the garage key code? Had he really forgotten it? What happened during the initial wal-through? Which detectives were there? What happened afterwards? What was going on during the Sermon on the Porch? And so on. The narrative drills deep in the facts as they played out between Sunday August 12th and the end of that remarkable week, Friday August 13th. By placing the entire timeline in context and in chronological order, we suddenly see the events just as they are with a much deeper perspective. To argue that the timeline is either inaccurate or fictitious is a malicious claim.
  2. One of the reasons I wrote TWO FACE before the trial was to prove how much information and insight can be gained by paying attention to the case, and by simple investigation. One could argue the best, the most authentic data can only be gotten firsthand, by interviewing people directly, and by sniffing around the physical area.  What the narrative is really aiming towards is omniscience, but we don’t need to go to #2825 Saratoga Trail to be omniscient about Vass Road, or CERVI 319. We have modern tools for that – like Google, and Google Earth. The current archive of the Watts case – which is updated on a daily basis – provides more than 200 facts and hundreds more photos, maps, graphs, insights from the Watts’ social media and other relevant information. Although TWO FACE is a relatively short narrative at 30 000 words, I think most people have been surprised at just how much information it does reveal besides and beyond public knowledge.
  3. In the review the reviewer can’t even get the spelling of the word cadaver right. Cadaver dogs weren’t used? Actually, they were, and what’s more, the cadaver dogs probably provided the cops with their most important clue in the investigation.

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4. “Cadaver dogs do not bark to alert.” Some do, some don’t. Here’s an example of a cadaver dog barking to alert:

5. “You can read all you need to know about the Watts case on Facebook, for free.” If it’s free coverage you’re after, True Crime Rocket Science has already posted over 20 articles, and an ongoing archive updated daily. They’re free to whoever wants to read them, and at least one new article is posted daily. Free.

The twitter profile associated with True Crime Rocket Science also highlights important news updates and ongoing insights about the Watts case – free as well.

There’s likely to be a lot more free coverage to come too.

There’s also an additional free resource of Watts case-related articles viewed – at last count – over 250 000 times on

What the narratives provide that go well beyond the somewhat fragmented analysis  of individual posts and tweets, is that it builds a much deeper, wider and larger case for what we know, and it builds something new that doesn’t exist in the mainstream or on social media: a cogent scenario [a theory] for what we don’t know based on meticulously incorporating everything we do know. That’s where the real Rocket Science lies, in the authentic narrative.

The narrative requires greater care and consideration not only to write, but to read. It’s a more concentrated analysis, and so it requires proper investments of time and thought.

A lot of the insight and research that goes into the narratives is only touched on very lightly in these blog posts, and the best insights are withheld in order to make the narratives stand apart as valuable in their own right. The blog posts are designed to be a quick study, a stone bouncing quickly and lightly on the surface of the case. The narrative’s long form chapters provide a much deeper, darker and richer view of all the information, typically within a particular theme and framework.

6. “The book was written too soon in a cynical effort to make money.” How soon is too soon? One of the factors that inspired the writing of Chris Watts were the initial reports by “experts” that his Sermon on the Porch was convincing. Fullscreen capture 20181014 123425

It was this obvious heresy recycled by the mainstream media that I first attempted to counter in my first post on the Watts case, on August 18th. From then on, I felt the analysis by the media and on social media was far below par, with dozens of people making the same claims: From the misleading: “He just snapped”, “He’s a monster/psychopath/narcissist”, “If he just wanted his freedom, why didn’t he just get a divorce?” to the indignant by not particularly helpful “GUILTY!!!!!!!”

So instead of having these misperceptions misshape the narrative and perhaps control it, I hoped to control the narrative by being the first to put the most authentic narrative out there. In terms of the money motive, I write books for a living. How many people do you know who work for no pay, or wish to work for nothing?

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7. Is the point of True Crime Rocket Science to be exploitative in the way tabloids purposefully manufacture clickbait [that they know is false]? It’s the opposite. But if that were the case, if the point were to make a nice profit, my narratives on Steven Avery for example would stick to the popular “innocent victim” theory held by the majority of the public. Selling the Avery is innocent narrative would sell more books. If that were the sole purpose, to would make sense to also steer clear of “controversial” true crime cases such as Amanda Knox, where a significant number of Americans still believe in her innocence. Instead, two trilogies have been written on Knox with two more narratives left to go. These books weren’t written expressly to make money; the mission was to address the false myths about the Knox case, a case which is a classic in how PR has been used to successfully mold public opinion around a true crime suspect.Fullscreen capture 20181014 132356

Do the two TWO FACE narratives out there add nothing to what is being said almost daily on HLN and Facebook? It would be good to get the views of those who’ve read and enjoyed the first narrative, so if you have, please do make your voice heard in the comments below.

In the reddit screengrab the accusation is made that the language and tone is tabloidy and thus exploitative. You mean like CNN:

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This is the way modern journalism looks and sounds today, my friend. As a narrator you either get with your readers, or you get left behind.

It’s the express mandate of this site, and this author, to provide an authentic narrative where none exists.  Where the media narrative is not up to scratch, True Crime Rocket Science aims to address it. Besides this, the dozens of true crime books already out there proves how much can be exposed and understood simply by taking a long, hard, honest look in the world of true crime. Part of the special power in these many narratives is how the criminal psychology in one case translates [or indeed, doesn’t] from criminal to criminal and case to case.

It’s my belief, for example, that the criminal psychology in the Casey Anthony case applies to the Watts case much more than has been appreciated, imagined or acknowledged thus far.

The ambit of Rocket Science is to explore true crime far beyond the factual or narrative spaces of anyone else.And so on that note, there’s a third TWO FACE underway that focuses entirely on the dynamic of the two murdered Watts daughters.


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  1. Cheryl

    I have read both books on the Watts case and understood that neither is definitive, because they are both works in progress based on information that is currently available. Like any narrative, the current data is analyzed, synthesized, and interpreted. When an author is dealing with the human condition, particularly, as in this case, the psychological/motivational aspects, the rendering of them will never be the final portrait, but will be a picture to consider from different angles and vantage points—now and into the future. No work of non—fiction is immutable, whether it is created a few months or many years after the events on which it is based.

    I’ve participated in some of the Facebook sites devoted to this case and found them, with a few exceptions, to be sorely lacking in thought and given to histrionics and simplistic hyperbole—like the mainstream media. Further, I was actually alarmed that many of Facebook sites’ posters had no ability to analyze . As a result, I finally understood the roots of our political debacle—yet another crime in progress. I was very pleased (that’s understated) to find this site and Nick’s books. I don’t believe I’ve been ripped off by the time or money I’ve spent here or on his books.

    • nickvdl

      Thanks Cheryl. This site and the books on the Watts case are meant to become – in time – the definitive resource for this case.

      At this moment in time, together with the posts on Shakedown, I’d argue given what we know they already are.

      I’d be interested to know what other resources you guys are using to get your information? Websleuths, a particular Facebook group…?

      • Cheryl

        Nick, one of the sites is the “Chris Watts Trial Discission” and the other is the “Chris Watts Critical Case Discussion.” Both sites’ moderators have to consistently admonish participants to focus on analyzing the case versus memorializing victims. Some of the threads can get pretty unhinged, especially when they bifurcate into Shan’ann and even Chris camps. Pretty crazy! Your site has been a totally different and refreshing experience. I’ve pretty much abandoned the other two, although I drop in once in a while.

        • nickvdl

          Well, please feel free to share some of the content you read here, and feel worth discussing to those sites, assuming they allow that sort of thing.

  2. Cheryl

    Thanks, Nick. You have to be careful on those sites to preface comments about Shan’ann with you’re not blaming the victim. Some posters are intolerant of comments they construe as being critical of the deceased. In that regard, I now look forward to my eternal passage so I too can be considered a saint! 🙂

  3. Karen

    I haven’t read any of the comments yet so forgive me if I repeat anything. I’ll start with the cadaver dogs. They absolutely will bark if that’s how they were trained to alert. When Chris answers a question that is 100% true, like his name he glides right through the answer. Quick, confident, strong voice. During the lies, it’s completely different. Stuttering, barely audible voice, gulping, etc… I wonder if her flight being delayed had him shitting or if he felt confident about what he was planning to do. I did notice that in the relationship video he gave in 2012 he rocked back and forth as he talked. That just might be his normal thing.

  4. Jay

    I found your site because I was looking for ANY source that was discussing the Thrive angle of this. It seemed strange that every news story described
    “her business” when it was easily known that she was not the owner of any business and, in fact, was part of a multi-level marketing (pyramid scheme) company.
    I didn’t know if it had anything to with the murder- and it definitely didn’t justify it- but why is it “victim blaming” to bring it up? Suggesting a possible motive is not letting Chris off the hook- it’s trying to understand WHY he made the decision to kill his family. Whatever his reasons or what we think of them, they were absolutely real to him and, thus, important to the case.

    • nickvdl

      Exactly. But “why” seems to frighten a lot of people who are afraid to think. Many folks – especially on FB – who are discussing this case are part of the Thrive Kool-Aid crowd. Since their income is based on Thrive not being relevant, and Shan’ann being perfect etc, one can see why their antagonism to dissent in these areas is so militant and aggressive.

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