Wednesday, October 13, 2010

What She Always Wanted by Camille Kimball

I don't often read true crime books.  The emphasis on the cruelty of the murder, and the inhumanity, is totally different from reading a mystery novel in which the story is fiction, and justice is served.  But, Camille Kimball brings a heart to her true crime books.  And, What She Always Wanted: A True Story of Marriage, Greed, and Murder, is a perfect example of the care she takes in writing, emphasizing the victim, and the loss of that person to the people who loved him.

The contrast between the couple in this book couldn't be greater.  Marjorie Orbin became a well-to-do Scottsdale wife and mother after she married Jay Orbin.  But, she was a former stripper and choreographer who had been married six times before leaving the life of a Vegas showgirl to marry Jay.  Jay Orbin was a successful businessman whose business ventures and partnerships over the years led to deep, lasting friendships, and he had parents and an older brother who loved him.  But, he fell for Marjorie, plied her with gifts, and promised to pay for her fertility treatments if she'd marry him, so she could have a baby, "What she always wanted." 

But, on Oct. 23, 2004, a man's torso was found in a Rubbermaid tub in the scrub desert outside Phoenix, near a busy intersection.  And, Jay Orbin had last been heard from on Sept. 8.  As Jay's family, friends, and even business acquaintances frantically searched for, and tried to find the missing man, his wife, Marjorie, behaved oddly, attracting the attention of the police.

What She Always Wanted is the story of a relationship that ended in tragedy, the investigation, and subsequent trial.  Kimball has done a beautiful job in bringing the people to life.  By focusing on the victim, instead of the details of the murder, she has reminded readers that in a murder case, the important element is the tragedy of the destruction of a life, a person who lived, loved and was loved.  Camille Kimball's What She Always Wanted is a recognition, not that the killer and crime is important, but that Jay Orbin's life and death were important.   Kimball writes true crime books with heart.

Camille Kimball's website is

What She Always Wanted: A True Story of Marriage, Greed, and Murder by Camille Kimball.  Penguin Group (USA), ©2010. ISBN 9780425237380 (paperback), 304p.

FTC Full Disclosure - I bought my copy of the book.


Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Like you, usually the gruesome nature of the crime usually keeps me from reading true crime. But this sounds like an interesting story. I'd also be interested in finding out what brought the murderer to the point where she felt she had to kill.

Lesa said...

It's a very interesting story, Elizabeth, with its focus on Jay Orbin. Camille spoke at the library last Saturday, and tomororw I'll have the recap of the event. There was a surprise guest there, who Camille didn't even know was coming. Very impressive.

Camille Kimball said...

Thanks for this very kind review, Lesa. We'll have some supplemental materials up on the website very soon...extra photos, samples of Marjorie Orbin's handwriting and love letters.

Elizabeth, this story has more twists and turns than you could get from a Hollywood writer on speed. But it's all true! And I think most regular True Crime fans are always trying to solve that very question, why do they do it?

Camille Kimball
What She Always Wanted
A Sudden Shot: The Phoenix Serial Shooter

Lesa said...

Thank you, Camille. I hope you enjoy the recap tomorrow!