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Evidence of Blood [Hardcover]

Thomas H. Cook
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Book Description

October 1991
It was a town legend: the teenager who disappeared on a mountain road, the bloody dress found in the woods and the local man who confessed. Jackson Kinley grew up on that legend but it is only when he returns to bury an old friend that he starts to investigate the crime which happened 40 years ago.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Cook's splendid novel finds a true-crime writer back in his rural Georgia hometown to attend the funeral of its sheriff, whose last investigation he seeks to complete.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

Lush-languaged Cook (Sacrificial Ground, Blood Innocents), in a pared-down mode. True-crime writer Jackson Kinley returns to Sequoyah, Georgia, first for his grandmother's funeral, then for that of his best friend, Ray, who died while seemingly obsessed with the years-ago murder of teenager Ellie Dinker. Charles Overton, the man electrocuted for her murder, was the father of Ray's lover, Dora. Or was he--either Dora's father, that is, or a murderer? As Kinley follows Ray's trail (word-by-word reading of the original trial transcript; interviews with witnesses; visits to the supposed crime scene), discrepancies appear and facts blur. Facts or merely wishes? The closer Kinley comes to the truth, the more he disrupts his own life and long-held assumptions regarding his father, his mother, and, above all, his grandmother, all of whom, incontrovertibly, revelation by painful revelation, are drawn into the tale of poor Ellie Dinker, her pregnancy, her unsuccessful abortion, and its aftermath. Gripping southern drama, with its byzantine family trees, old wives' tales, and overheated memories. One of the better Cooks to date. -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Labyrinth of Evidence March 16 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Cooke is in fine form in first-person narrated "Evidence of Blood." The writing is leaner, and anti-hero Jackson Kinley is more likable than the usual Cooke protagonist. Kinley is closed off from all but logical deduction, yet not a Sherlock Holmesian mock-up. He clearly has done all one man can possibly do to remove himself physically, emotionally and mentally from his birthplace Sequoyah, GA. He has one of the most unusual occupations I have happened across in the mystery genre. He successfully writes in-depth true crime books about the horribly depraved killers. Why he does this would make an interesting side topic.
When Kinley returns to his hometown for the funeral of his best friend only a month after he has buried his grandmother, he is hoping his stay will be a short one. However he is drawn into the investigation of a 30 year-old trial that his friend has been researching before his untimely death. Just to stay off the beaten path, Cooke assures us (via the narrator) that the friend did not come to an untimely end; he died a perfectly normal death.
The mystery of a man executed for killing a teenaged girl is meticulously unraveled. Kinley studies trial transcripts, interviews witnesses, visits sites all presented in an appealing manner. As usual, Cooke gives people instant recall of events that happened 30 years ago, which I found implausible. But this is a small quibble. The book builds in intensity until the entire community is in some way involved. Always in the background is the gray malevolence of the person or persons who schemed to execute an innocent man. Cooke forces us to think logically along with his narrator, and we join him in his repeated thought: "Do you really want to know?"
The finale left me with a few unanswered questions; but this is typical of the author and makes his books star material for discussion groups. Everyone will have a slightly different take on the ending. I recommend this engrossing book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Solves the real puzzle: the mystery of self June 23 1998
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
"It's better to know--isn't it?" This is the question haunting Jackson Kinley, a writer of true crime accounts who returns home to an old friend's funeral and finds himself the inheritor of his friend's search for the truth about a crime almost thirty years old. What really happened to the young girl whose bloodstained dress was found draped over a tree on the mountainside? The man executed for her murder is believed to be innocent by his daughter. As Kinley begins his investigation into the past, he discovers that the details of the fatal day don't make sense. The secret life of the powerful in a small town comes out into the harsh light of judgement. Most important, Kinley begins to discover aspects of himself he had buried, or never explored--a capacity for love, a night of terror and breathlessness long ago, and ultimately, the reason why he has spent his years talking to those strange, frightening people in whom there is "something missing" -- a something that would have prevented them from murdering and torturing other human beings. Cook is a fine writer, and this is an excellent story of psychological suspense. One wonders, as Kinley traces this ancient wrong, and makes his way to the interior of his own motivations, whether Cook himself is working his way into--or out of--a personal heart of darkness that compels him, like his main character, to explore the tragic secrets of the past. If so, he makes the interior expedition a worthwhile journey for his readers, as well as for himself.
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5.0 out of 5 stars On a 1-10 scale this is a 15. Sheer brilliance! Feb. 11 1998
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
He is a chronicler of the perversities one human being inflicts on another. He scribes the innermost darkest secrets of the deranged to the reading public who thirsts for every morsel he publishes. He has interviewed some of the leading deviants of the century without any of them touching his soul. Safely, from a distance, Jackson Kinley writes true crime stories. When his only friend Ray Tindall dies, Jackson believes that he hass no emotional ties left to anyone on the planet.
Jackson soon learns that ties of love extend from beyond the mortal plane. Returning to his home town for the funeral of his only friend, Jackson finds out Ray, a former sheriff, was looking into a murder case that was over three decades old. Charles Overton was tried, convicted, and executed for the death of a teenager whose body was never found. Ray's mistress, who is the daughter of Charles, believes her father was innocent. She turned to Ray and now Jackson to prove she is right. Jackson knows that if he is to have peace of mind, he must find out the truth about Charles and what Ray learned that was "breaking his heart".
This reprint of a 1991 release has not lost any of its' emotional power or mental punch in the exceeding years. Instead, EVIDENCE OF BLOOD seems to be an even more potent tour-de-force. Within the confines of this novel, the investigation of the crime is as important, if not more so, than the solutions because of the length the hermit-like protagonist is willing to go to for his deceased buddy. It is during the investigation that Jackson finally realizes that to be totally isolated makes a person into an inhuman being. This terrific tale, that delves deep into the psyche of the anti-hero, is that rare keeper among keepers.
Harriet Klausner
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5.0 out of 5 stars BLOODY GOOD READ June 18 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is one of Cook's finest works to date. As we get involved with Jackson Kinley and his search for the truth behind a 30 year old crime, we find ourselves intrigued and mystified. As Kinley researches old court transcripts, interviews people, and starts putting the pieces together, we enter a labyrinthine maze of vast proportions.
Cook, whose specialty has been journeying back to previous crimes, outdoes himself in manipulating the reader into finding many suspects and many possible solutions to the question: did an innocent man die in the electric chair for a crime he didn't commit? Was a murder even committed? Who is behind the suspected cover-up?
Although the ending does have an air of ambiguity, when revisiting the novel mentally, one can see how everything ties together in the end.
A superb work by Mr. Cook.
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