I’ll Take Care of You, by Caitlin Rother
Book Review by Dennis Moore
March 29, 2014 (San Diego)--I always look forward to the next Caitlin Rother novel, as she seems to never disappoint. Rother’s I’ll Take Care of You may very well be her best and most incisive to date. This New York Times bestselling author has followed up on her riveting and controversial true crime novel, at least locally; Lost Girls, with another true crime novel that will not let you put the book down; I’ll Take Care of You. I found myself being more engrossed in being an avid reader, than actually a book reviewer.
Set in the affluent and upscale Newport Beach, California area, this story centers around Nanette Johnston Packard, a sexy divorcee, who liked to meet men at the gym and through personal ads, and her boyfriend, Eric Naposki, her NFL linebacker lover, who seemed to have fulfilled Packard’s wilder cravings. In the midst of this was millionaire Bill McLaughlin, who Packard began dating, and moved her kids into his bay-front home in Newport Beach. But one man was never enough for Nanette.
The brazen and audacious nature of Nanette Johnston Packard is most exemplified in a newspaper ad she had taken out stating: “WEALTHY MEN ONLY – SWF, 25, 5’5”, 100#, classy, well-educated, adventurous, fun and knows how to take care of her man. Looking for an older man, 30+, who knows how to treat a woman. You take care of me and I’ll take care of you.” Nanette actually met millionaire Bill McLaughlin through this “Wealthy Men Only” singles ad in early 1991. On December 15, 1994, Bill McLaughlin was murdered in his home by gunshot, with his son Kevin upstairs in his bedroom, himself earlier suffering a severe brain trauma, which had put him into a coma for four months during which he was dependent on a ventilator. The logical suspects in this dastardly deed were Nanette Johnston Packard and her boyfriend Eric Naposki, but it wasn’t until 2012, that authorities had the goods on Nanette and Naposki to convict them and send them to prison, with Naposki alleging to this very day that it was another shooter.
Newport Beach is the perfect setting for this true crime drama, as the author describes it: “Newport’s natural beauty, juxtaposed with the ostentatious materialism of some of its residents, made this area the perfect setting for the television show The O.C., as well as frequent episodes of the hit reality show The Real Housewives of Orange County. In addition to the nouveau riche women who keep their hair perfectly coiffed, their nails manicured, and their clothing just so, Newport Beach has drawn celebrity athletes such as basketball’s bad boy Dennis Rodman and superstar Kobe Bryant. Eccentric actor Nicolas Cage made news here when he expanded his boat dock to 156 feet to accommodate his personal flotilla and later sold his home for a record $35 million.”
Packard and Naposki hatched a scheme to abscond with the millionaire McLaughlin’s millions, but to do this they had to kill him. Along the way there were many other men ensnared in Packard’s nefarious schemes. All of this brilliantly profiled in Rother’s scintillating true crime drama. Also along the way the author takes you inside the minds of the jury determining Naposki’s and Packard’s fate, the Newport Beach prosecution team, as well as the surviving family members of the deceased.
In January 2013, while Nanette and Naposki were languishing in prison, “Investigation Discovery” host Aphrodite Jones aired a show on the case in which she received a jailhouse letter from Nanette and also spoke on the phone with her. After all these years of silence and claims that she didn’t think Eric Naposki had anything to do with the murder, Nanette finally had decided to change her story too, albeit too late to make a difference, according to the brilliant telling of this story by Rother. Rother sums this story up by stating: “It just wasn’t Nanette’s style to let an ex-boyfriend get away with blaming her or having the last word. That’s how she took care of her men.”
The author will be a part of a new Authors and Readers Roundtable (AART) formed by local San Diego authors at Coco’s in La Mesa, California, April 22, 2014, where I am sure her book will be the subject of conversation. This is a book that I highly recommend for so many reasons.
Dennis Moore is a writer and book reviewer for the East County Magazine in San Diego and the book review editor for SDWriteway, an online newsletter for writers in San Diego that has partnered with the East County Magazine. He is also the author of a book about Chicago politics; “The City That Works: Power, Politics and Corruption in Chicago.” Mr. Moore can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can follow him on Twitter at: @DennisMoore8.