A New York Times 2018 Summer Read

"In this gripping exploration of an island murder and a heartland love, Cutter Wood subverts all our expectations for the true crime genre. He challenges what we mean by 'true' by presenting us with feats of imagination alongside traditional reportage, and challenges how we understand 'crime' by asking us to consider the relationship between acts of extraordinary violence and the rhythms of our ordinary lives. Wood's voice is smart, curious, playful, and wholly engaging."

— LESLIE JAMISON, author of The Recovering

"A striking blend of reportage, memoir, and confession... In this extraordinary work of nonfiction, Wood considers what it means to love and be loved and reckons with the coexistence of our everyday desires in the midst of incomprehensible terror. Like the work of Sebald, the book's unexpected paths to self-reflection and grace are wonderfully disorienting and sure to leave you rethinking the world around you." 

— *JENNIFER PERCY, National Magazine Award winner and author of Demon Camp

"Cutter Wood wasn't a true crime obsessive. He wasn't the sort of man who could rattle off his favorite unsolved murders and disappearances. He was a graduate student studying in Iowa, whose mother just happened to send him a newspaper clipping about a suspicious motel fire on Anna Maria Island, In Florida. The blaze—and concurrent investigation of its missing owner, Sabine Musil-Buelher—intrigued Wood, who had been a guest there a few months before. And that small connection drew Wood into a mystery that would encompass nearly ten years of his life, involve three compelling suspects and form the basis for his haunting debut."


"Part true crime and part memoir, Wood’s debut, at its heart, is a work of creative nonfiction that explores the conflicts that exist within every relationship. Those who appreciate style and creativity, which Wood has in abundance, will enjoy this.

— KATHY SEXTON, Booklist

"An examination, not only of Sabine and of her murderer's emotions and motivations, but of the narrator himself, of universal human flaws. It is an often lovely evocation of place and culture: the gritty, small-town life of Anna Maria, its beautiful backdrop and trivial treacheries... In the end, Love and Death is a memorable, thought-provoking work of true crime and imagination."

— JULIA KASTNER, Shelf Awareness


"A murder on the Gulf Coast's Anna Maria island sets the stage for a fascinating exploration of love and loss, told amid swaying palm trees and seedy motels."

— Entertainment Weekly, New and Notable

"Wood combines elements of true crime with the techniques of contemporary fiction in his bold debut, which recounts the investigation into the 2008 murder of Sabine Musil-Buehler, a Gulf Coast Florida motel owner...Readers of literary nonfiction will find a promising new writer."

Publishers Weekly

"Remarkably tender and haunting. In its soul, this is a story about coming of age and falling in love. Ultimately, the greatest achievements of Love and Death in the Sunshine State are its unflinching attention to both what must be reported and what can only be imagined, and its insistence that somewhere between the two lies the complexity of our lived experience."

— JOHN D'AGATA, author of About a Mountain

"If Elmore Leonard had narrated Michael Paterniti's Driving Mr. Albert, the result might be something like Cutter Wood's Love and Death in the Sunshine State: a smart, engrossing true-life noir that weaves in meditations on love and the literary life, all set amid the palm trees and seedy motels of Florida's steaming coastline."

— ALEXANDRIA MARZANO-LESNEVICH, author of The Fact of a Body

A story of two imperfect people who were drawn to each other for all of the wrong reasons. By leaving out some of the seemingly critical crime details and facts that would be highlighted in the standard true crime book sold in airport gift shops, Wood proves again that less is more. His "story of a crime" focuses on the small yet significant aspects of the lives of two people. In doing so, he brings the individuals to life and causes us to mourn—in a quiet, dignified way—the loss of one of them. It's a sad, tough story but Cutter Wood takes the reader to the heart of the matter. His is a respectful approach to human imperfection and frailty. Highly recommended."

— JOSEPH ARELLANO, Seattle Post-Intelligencer