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To the Last Breath by Carlton Stowers–true crime book review conclusion

22 March 2012

To the Last Breath by Carlton Stowers

So here was two-year-old Renee Goode mysteriously dead after a sleepover at her father’s house with several other female relatives. The youngsters found Renee the next morning unresponsive in her sleeping bag. Her father, Michael Shane Goode, claimed not to know what could  possibly have happened to his young daughter overnight. Yet a second autopsy —  performed on Renee’s tiny exhumed body several months later only after continued prodding from a dogged detective and grandmother — proved Shane squeezed his own two-year-old daughter till she could  breathe no more, calmly lay her back on her sleeping bag, and then went to sleep  himself. Just like that.

[Please see the first installment of this book review To The Last Breath by Carlton Stowers (Renee Goode child  murder).]

It presumably takes several minutes to compress a child’s diaphragm to the  point that the child can no longer take a breath. It is excruciating to imagine  what this child went through – was she awake? Did she know it was her daddy  holding her, squeezing her to death? What could possibly be going through Shane  Goode’s mind for those several minutes it took to squeeze the life out of his own daughter? Was he able to sleep afterward?

We’ll likely never know the answers to these probing questions, as there was no confession and he pleaded not guilty at trial. What we do know, from both the  circumstantial and medical evidence, is that Shane Goode left Renee’s tiny, lifeless body —  still frothing at the mouth — for the other horrified young girls to find in the morning after he deliberately squeezed the life from her.

A word about Carlton Stowers: quite simply, he’s one of the  best true crime authors around. If you see his byline on a book, you know you will be getting quality writing and superb storytelling. In fact, I’d call him a master storyteller, right up there with the very best.

Stowers is also an accomplished investigative journalist, as evidenced by this book. It takes readers from the crime, back through Renee’s parents’ volatile relationship, forward to the murder investigation that at first seemed  destined to go nowhere, and finally through the riveting trial where the devastating truth was finally revealed. It’s definitely a page-turner, from beginning to end.

Touchingly, the book is dedicated to Brandon, who was born to Annette after  his sister Renee was so callously murdered. The dedication inscription reads:

For Brandon… Who will one day want to know.

The baby killer Shane Goode, incidentally, is serving out his life sentence in a Texas prison.

Grade: **** 1/2

Status: Highly  Recommended

Ready to read? Buy To The Last Breath by Carlton Stowers on  Amazon

More about Carlton Stowers 

Brazoria County public criminal records  for Michael Shane Goode

Appellate court records in Texas’ First  Court of Appeals for Michael Shane Goode

Texas Department of Corrections inmate  locator – Find local, state,  or federal inmates in this database of all 50 states

Justice  for All – Criminal Justice Reform Organization

Houston Press story on  then-problems plaguing the Harris County M.E.’s Office

More true crime book reviews

Read the book? Let me know in the comments section what you thought!

Sami K. Hartsfield, ACP is a consumer law paralegal and freelance writer based in Houston, Texas. She is a NALA Advanced Certified Paralegal, and has earned six specialty certifications since 2007: Discovery; Trial Practice; Contracts Management; Social Security Disability Law; and Entity & Individual Medical Liability. She is also WestlawNext certified. Sami has worked as a law firm Webmaster, law firm social media marketer, and a ghostwriter for personal injury law firms. She holds a degree in paralegal studies with a 4.0 GPA and a bachelor of science degree in political science, graduating summa cum laude. Sami interned with Texas’ 14th Court of Appeals under Chief Justice Adele Hedges, and completed the University of Houston Law Center’s Summer 2008 Prelaw Institute with a 4.0. You can find her on Facebook and e-mail her with questions, comments, or ideas at


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