Fiona's True Crime Book Reviews: G by author

Jeffrey Good, Susan Goreck
Poison Mind

Many of us have experienced being annoyed by neighbors whose loud music, objectionable habits, or destruction of property get on our nerves. This is the story of a man who got so annoyed, he poisoned his neighbors with an extremely painful nerve toxin. The personalities are what make the book: the cartoon-character nerd who was a disgruntled househusband to a female orthopedist, the quietly charming policewoman who went undercover to get the goods on him, the loving Southern family who suffered so much. And there's a revelation at the end of the story that will appall you. As The New York Times wrote, "Florida, the cradle of creepiness in detective fiction, offers up some weird criminals in real life, too. . . . The authors are good at portraying the oddly disconnected society of small-town Florida, as well as the man who almost committed the perfect crime there."

A. W. Gray
The Cadet Murder Case

David and Diane were called in the press "a dream couple"--he'd been admitted to the U. S. Air Force Academy, and she was bound for the U. S. Naval Academy. But in fact this pair of high school sweethearts from a small bedroom community near Dallas, were insecure and troubled even before they murdered Adrianne, another student of whom Diane was jealous. This book, written before the trial was to begin in late '97, effectively dramatizes the small-town Texas setting in which a relationship between a white boy and a Hispanic girl is still considered unusual, and brings out the controversial behavior of the military regarding the other Navy plebes to whom Diane confessed. A. W. Gray corrects some misconceptions about the case that arose during earlier press coverage, and outlines--in careful, even-tempered prose--the issues that would most likely arise at the trial (such as the the admissibility of David's confession).

Melissa Fay Greene
The Temple Bombing

Jacob Rothschild--rabbi of the Temple, Atlanta's oldest and richest synagogue--responded to Southern upheaval over the 1954 Supreme Court decision in favor of integration, with an outspoken defense of civil rights. "He was aware that he lived in strange times, when the pronouncement of elemental moral observations stirred political havoc." The bombing of the Temple by neo-Nazi extremists, in 1958, was but one climactic moment in a progression of conflicting messages and class struggles experienced by Jews in the post-war South. Melissa Fay Greene is a fine storyteller with a rich, literary style: She portrays the social setting, as well as the crime itself and its aftermath, with a plethora of compelling details. By the end of the book, when Rabbi Rothschild is hosting a dinner for Martin Luther King in honor of his Nobel Peace Prize, the reader has gained a solid sense of a pivotal time and place in Southern history.

[All reviews copyright ©, Inc. 1997-8]

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