Sarah Weinman, 2022


Rating: 3 out of 6.

1960s small town America. Eddy Smith (in his low twenties) seems like ‘the boy next door’. Until he doesn’t. The author sets the stage by showing you Eddy is everyone’s friend. He plays basketball with his buddys. He gives young girls rides home from school. He is loved by his young wife and daughter. And he loves them back. Enter a tragic murder of a high school girl. Eddy’s friends put two and two together and are not surprised when Eddy is arrested. And so begins a major roller coaster. People believe he did it. Others believe he didn’t. Eddy himself seems unsure. He seems to make his own reality and believes whatever he is saying at the time. He struck up a friendship with one William F Buckley (an American public intellectual, conservative author, and political commentator). Mr. Buckley was an unlikely friend of an alleged murderer, but it was in Eddy’s favor. Mr. Buckley was certain Eddy was not guilty and he pushed his thoughts through his different publications. Through his friendship with Buckley, Eddy was given book deals, freedom, fame, and eventually the chance to commit murder again. Eddy had many friends that he communicated with by letter while in prison. He had girlfriends and even convinced one of them to marry him. Eventually, Eddy was retried, found not guilty and actually released. His life fell apart when the wrong girl crossed his path at the wrong time.

This book proves that truth is stranger than fiction. If I had read this and someone told me it was fiction, I would have said they didn’t do a very good job of making it sound believable. I did enjoy the story, although I got tired of the many details about Buckley and Smith’s friendship with all of its up and downs. There are not many details about the act of crime it is writing about. The story is mostly about Eddy’s time in prison and how he manipulated almost everyone who crossed his path.

Do you ever feel manipulated? How do you deal with it? Is it your fault or the manipulator’s fault?

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