What sets Ellen McGarrahan's just-published true crime book, Two Truths and a Lie, above so many others I've read is the moral gravity of her presence on the page and the hollow-voiced lyricism of her writing style.
The murder scene looked like something out of an Agatha Christie novel. That's the one thing that the multitudinous cast of witnesses, suspects and police detectives might agree on in We Keep the Dead Close, Becky Cooper's just published account of a murder at Harvard that took place in 1969 and remained unsolved until two years ago.
Book critic Maureen Corrigan on the year's best books (that she's read): "Cold Mountain" by Charles Frazier; "Matters of Chance" by Jeannette Haien; the reprint "Independent People" by Haldor Laxness; the short stories "Publish and Perish" by James Hynes, "Lives of the Monster Dogs" by Kirsten Bakis; for non-fiction: "Big Trouble" by J. Anthony Lukas; "Halfway Heaven" by Melanie Thernstrom; "The Gay Metropolis" by Charles Kaiser; volume 2 of "W.B. Yeats" a biography by R.F.
Book Critic John Leonard reviews Wasted, an investigation of last year's `Preppie Murder' trial in New York City. Robert Chambers, son of a wealthy New York City couple, was charged with the murder of Jennifer Levin, herself the product of wealthy parents and New York's finest private schools. The trial was a headline-grabber for Chambers' controversial defense and for its exposure of the aimless, dissolute lifestyle of the children of the wealthy.
Writer Jack Olsen. He's been called a master of the `true crime' genre, and in his new book, Doc, he tells the story of how Dr. John Story, one of the most respected citizens of Lovell, Wyoming, systematically raped his patients, and how, in this ultra-conservative, God-fearing environment, the women either couldn't speak up, or, when they did, were dismissed. Lovell is set in Mormon country, and many of the women the doctor victimized feared excommunication for "fornication" if they when to the authorities, who, invariably, were also elders in the Mormon church.
Journalist Teresa Carpenter. Her new book, Missing Beauty, is the story of the obsession of a medical professor for a Boston prostitute, and obsession that ended with the prostitute's murder. Carpenter is a staff writer for The Village Voice and won the 1981 Pulitzer Prize for her reports on three murders, including those of former congressman Allard Lowenstein and Playmate Dorothy Stratten.