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Shallow Grave in Trinity County Paperback – Jul 30 1999


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; First Edition edition (July 30 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312206720
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312206727
  • Product Dimensions: 20.6 x 13.7 x 2.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 431 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,568,894 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Paperback
Rule No. 1 when reading a "true crime" story where you don't already know the ending and want to be surprised is to avoid the photos and captions inset in the middle of the book, until you've already finished it.
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.
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Format: Hardcover
Not only did I buy this book by Mr. Farrell, but I also bought another book on this case by Keith Walker, A Trail of Corn (Selling at Bill & Kathy's Restaurant, none the less), because the Burton Abbott case is very much like one I'm writing myself, the Theodore Durrant case of 1895.
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.
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By A Customer on Aug. 4 1999
Format: Hardcover
"Shallow Grave" is true-crime reporting at it's best. This is a compelling and emotional story, packed with details. I was particularly impressed with the author's gift for explaining the minute details of the unfolding criminal case in a clear and interesting way. The book neither sensationalizes nor sugar-coats the horrific details of the crime. Highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
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 account of the northern California murder of a young girl, and a killer swiftly brought to justice. I highly recommend this book!
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Format: Hardcover
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 that dominated the news in Northern California at that time. His book reads like the best of crime fiction.
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