For weeks that fall, the body count of sexually violated, brutally murdered young women escalated. With increasing alarm, Los Angeles newspapers headlined the deeds of a serial killer they named the Hillside Strangler. The city was held hostage to fear. But not until January 1979, more than a year later, would the mysterious disappearance of two university students near Seattle lead police to the arrest of a security guard--the handsome, charming, fast-talking Kenny Bianchi--and the discovery that the strangler was not one man but two. Like Truman Capote in In Cold Blood and Norman Mailer in The Executioner's Song, Darcy O'Brien weds the narrative skill of an award-winning novelist with the detailed observations of an experienced investigator to unravel, in The Hillside Stranglers, the chilling true-crime story of Bianchi and his animally magnetic cousin Angelo Buono. Compellingly, O'Brien explores the symbiotic relationship between the two men, their lust for women as insatiable as their hate, before examining the crimes they remorselessly perpetrated and the lives of the unsuspecting victims they claimed. Equally riveting is O'Brien's account of the trial--one of the longest and most controversial criminal court cases in American history--with the defense team parading, one after another, expert witnesses who had been effectively duped by Bianchi's impersonation of a man suffering multiple personality disorder. It's one way a man might contrive to get away with murder.
A compelling chronicle that uncovers the truth behind two ghastly crimes and lays bare the divided psyche of their perpetrator: Murder in Little Egypt encompasses "stunning material," says Nobel Prize winner Seamus Heaney, that is "handled with justice and fastidiousness by a natural storyteller"The unimaginable crime of filicide takes on the cast of tragic inevitability in this haunting true tale of violence, greed, revenge, and death. Fusing the narrative power of an award-winning novelist and the detailed research of an experienced investigator, author Darcy O'Brien unfolds the story of Dr. John Dale Cavaness, the southern Illinois physician and surgeon charged with the murder of his son Sean in December 1984. Outraged by the arrest of the skilled medical practitioner who selflessly attended to their needs, the people of Little Egypt, as the natives call their region, rose to his defense.In the subsequent trial, however, a radically different, disquieting portrait of Dr. Cavaness would emerge. Throughout the three decades that he enjoyed the admiration and respect of his community, Cavaness was privately terrorizing his family, abusing his employees, and making disastrous financial investments as well as carousing, brawling, and womanizing. What was not revealed in the trial, however, was that seven years earlier, in a homicide that had never been officially solved, the body of Cavaness's firstborn son, Mark, had been found shot dead in the woods of Little Egypt.As more and more grisly details of the Cavaness case come to stark Midwestern light in O'Brien's chilling account, so too does the hidden gothic underside of rural America and its heritage of violence and blood.
"His was a sensibility in which sex, hate, and the lust for power were so intertwined as to be indistinguishable." Are you in the mood for reading about a real-life villain whose abuse of power was compared to that of Henry VIII? Look no further than this small community in West Tennessee, where a detestable judge used his influence over jobs and child custody cases to intimidate several women into a state of sexual victimization and emotional paralysis. Darcy O'Brien's writing is eloquently descriptive, with a good feeling for character--such as the heroic, yet humble, figure of an FBI agent who cares enough about the community to involve himself in local problems and bring the judge to trial. Power to Hurt is nominated for a 1997 Edgar Award.
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