Shallow Grave in Trinity County Paperback – Jul 30 1999
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Harry Farrell worked as a newspaper journalist for 40 years in San Jose, California. His first book, Swift Justice, about a 1930s kidnap-murder case that ended in a lynching of the perpetrators, won the Edgar Award for best fact crime of 1992. Shallow Grave in Trinity County is equally brilliant. In steady prose that is rich with details, Farrell describes how a weak-minded and repellent UC-Berkeley student was apprehended and convicted of the kidnap-murder of a 14-year-old girl, in the comparatively peaceful times of the 1950s. Shallow Grave is a model of how a true crime book should be written: the text is clear, chronological, compassionate, unembellished, and quietly gripping. Farrell not only gives readers all the facts of the case, both relevant and irrelevant, he also provides three maps of the region on which the exact sequence of the killer's actual movements (vs. those he alleged in his testimony) can be traced. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From School Library Journal
YA?Did Burton Abbott really kidnap and kill 12-year-old Stephanie Bryan in the spring of 1955? Although the truth will never be known, Farrell shows the frustration and lack of clues that the police and FBI encountered after the child disappeared on her way home from school. Three months later, Abbott and his wife found several of the girl's belongings in their cellar. When they called the police, they never imagined that Abbott would become the main suspect in this grizzly crime, but layer by layer, the investigation pointed to him as the guilty party. As the numerous clues and witnesses are presented in the text, the author footnotes names, dates, and events, reminding readers who these people are and how they are interrelated. Photographs from the investigation and trial are included. Much of the evidence would not be admissible in court today. This is also noted and explained in relation to modern laws and technology. Using old police and court files, Farrell re-creates this chilling crime while leaving his readers to judge for themselves whether Abbott was guilty as charged or innocent as he proclaimed right up until his execution. YAs will find picking apart the pieces of evidence a challenge as they try to construct their own theories.?Anita Short, W. T. Woodson High School, Fairfax, VA
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
The photos and captions will give the ending away every time if you don't wait to look at 'em. I learned that the hard way when I first read the Joe McGinness book on Jeffrey MacDonald ("Fatal Vision").
As far as this book goes, it's not quite clear what author Harry Farrell hoped to accomplish in writing it. The story is about the arrest of Burton Abbott for the brutal abduction and murder of 14-year old Stephanie Bryant in mid-1955 from an enclosed thicket of shrubbery near her home in Berkeley, California and also about Abbott's subsequent trial. Did Farrell simply mean to tell this story in a way that would intrigue his readers?
Then I'd say that he succeeded. This was a very interesting read.
But I also suspect that what Farrell really meant to do was to write a "did-he-or-didn't-he" story; that is, to create suspense as to the accused's guilt or innocence and as to the outcome of the trial. And I'd say that he got no better than mixed results there.
I faithfully AVOIDED the photo section in the middle of the book, but any sense of suspense that I might have experienced was a sham. I kept waiting in vain for the revelation that would cause me to consider the case in a new light. But the evidence as it is shown here remained quite one-sided throughout, and the outcome was inevitable.
In fact, I'm not quite sure that I trust Farrell entirely. Even if this was a capital case, his presentation of it makes one wonder what exactly the jury deliberated about for seven days.Read more ›
I greatly appreciate authors who provide addresses, maps, and photos, and Mr. Farrell was generous on all counts. As I live in the Bay Area, and have written two unrelated self-guided walking tours, I like to visit all the sites associated with any story that touches me emotionally. Mr. Farrell certainly succeeded with his central task.
In fact, his narrative is so riveting that I soon drove over to Berkeley and retraced the route Stephanie Bryan walked before her kidnapping. One of the strengths of this book is that the reader gets a sense of knowing the victim, her parents, the accused kidnapper, and even a comprehension of how most of the people central to this story had their lives ruined.
Those who are familiar with this famous case may also appreciate knowing, even though this murder happened in 1955, that Willard Junior High, the library, Dream Fluff Donut shop, the suspected ambush path, tunnel road, the Bryan's former residence, the Abbott family's former residence in Alameda, the court house in Oakland, and San Quentin Prison are all still there to be seen!
Imagine seeing those sites for a moment. And if you want any help finding them just e-mail me.
Most recent customer reviews
If you like true crime noir, this is one of the best in a long time! Harry Farrell has done a thorough job of researching this case, the result of which is a carefully detailed... Read morePublished on Jan. 5 1999
Farrell beautifully captures the flavor of the the Bay Area in the fifties, and gives us an extraordinarily well researched and suspensefully written account of a criminal case... Read morePublished on Sept. 30 1998
This is a good story about a true, horrible, murder. The fact that the perpetrator was executed less than two years after the crime speaks volumes about how our criminal justice... Read morePublished on March 4 1998