The True Crime genre has been a guilty pleasure of mine since I worked in a public library back in the 1980s and discovered the treasures that awaited me in Dewey # 364.1523. I was happy to have the opportunity to receive an advance copy of Evidence of Love by John Bloom in exchange for an honest review (thanks to NetGalley and Open Road Integrated Media).
Subtitled “A true story of passion and death in the suburbs,” this fascinating story was made into a movie titled “A Killing in a Small Town” starring Barbara Hershey and Brian Dennehy in 1990. Yes, over 25 years ago! TBH, it wasn’t until I was nearly finished with the book that I checked and realized this crime happened in 1980, and the original copyright date is 1983. It isn’t totally clear to me if the book has been updated for the 2016 edition or is just being republished, but it’s a testament to how good it is that it doesn’t seem dated and the story holds up as well as it does.
The story is set in the suburban area in Texas known as the “Silicone Prairie,” and focuses on two families, both headed by men who work in high tech. Pat Montgomery is a successful engineer who is married to Candy. They are friends with the Gores, Allan and Betty. The story opens with Candy telling stories to children at a gathering at the church they all attend. Later that same day, Betty Gore is found murdered, the victim of the classic “axe murderer” that is somewhat a cliché (although apparently not that many murders are committed using an axe).
So, here’s where it gets tricky to review this without spoiling it. Although this was apparently a well-known crime, I was clueless about it when I began to read, and I think if I had known what was coming it might have been a totally different reading experience. (I admit I was creeped out while reading it, and since I always like to look at the photos first when reading true crime and my digital edition didn’t include photos, I Googled the names and was stunned to read the headlines since I had about 40 pages left to read – it might have made a difference.) I don’t know if the print edition will include photos, but these characters are classic suburban couples with lives that revolve around their family, church, and (for the Dads) their work.
If you enjoy true crime, this is GREAT. If you like suburban drama, same thing. It isn’t a mystery in the sense that we know early on who died and who was responsible, but there is a mystery surrounding the nature of the killer’s defense, and whether it will prove successful. I didn’t find any of the characters to be particularly likable, but that didn’t detract from the fact that this is true crime at its best. FIVE stars.