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on August 18, 2002
Violent crime is indeed a rare commodity in Huntington County Indiana. The crime depicted in this book shocked and titilated virtually everyone in the area. Indeed, the murder is well remembered and discussed by many to this day. The publishing of "Fear No Evil" promises to reveal the secrets of this most unusual crime. Sadly, the book fails in several respects.
Much of the information presented in Thomas Henry Jones's true crime book is simply rehashed details that were already well covered in the local newspaper. Details of the crime, the court proceedings, the testimony and sentencing information were well documented and devoured by Huntington residents. Despite the lurid blurb on the back cover and the inexplicable title, there is precious little newly published 'shocking' information.
Much of the story revolves around Erick Esch, the unwitting accomplice the the crime. While this is interesting, it doesn't thoroughly cover the perpetrator, Jarod Wall. The author was unable to obtain an interview with Wall and the book suffers because of it. Jarrod holds the key the motives, emotions and driving forces behind his behaviors. Without these key elements, the book fails to deliver the goods.
By Mr. Jones' own admisson, he has never written a true crime narrative before. This lack of experience shines throughout every page of this brief, featherweight tome. We are regularly treated to his clumsy characterizations and unitentionaly humourous descriptions. The volulme is also padded with extraneous details. The history of the restaurant were the county prosecutor ate his breakfast is interesting but totally irrelavent to the story.
Despite my rather harsh judgements of this book, I would still recommend it the those of us who knew the people portrayed in this book or lived in this area at the time. I enjoyed 'Fear No Evil' with a perverse, voyeuristic pleasure. A quick, easy read that isn't a literary steak, but will still give you guilty junk food pleasure.
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on September 7, 2002
I felt this book was well written and I finished it in less than 48 hours. I have been reading true crime for 19 years now, and trust me, I have read my share of flops, those of which I wont mention here. This story kept my interests, and as usual I wanted to learn more about what went so wrong in these boys lives for them to commit such a horrendous act. I couldn't put it down... really.
I guess if you are from Indiana, or have personal knowledge or connections with the people involved or about the crime itself, you might be disappointed in not learning any new facts. It is for that reason I don't choose to read books about things I already know, such as the O.J story, what more do I need to know? I have all the details and facts I need, reading a book on the subject would not enlighten me any further, and would most likely bore me. So I can understand why the people (From Huntington) who gave a bad review, were disappointed. They had the facts, what more did they need to know? If they want further details maybe they should pay a visit to Jarrod Wall. I do think their criticism was a little harsh, but they are entitled to their opinion.
For those who don't know this story however, it is a fast paced, easy read, and I would personally recommend it and rank it with some of the better true crime writers out there today. It's on my re-read list for sure. If you're a true crime reader, who doesn't know this story, buy it, you wont be disappointed.
The only complaint I would have, is that I would have liked to know more about Jarrod's family and what kind of support they showed him during his incarceration.
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on September 27, 2002
I too am from Huntington, was one of Jarrod's classmates and a casual friend of the twins in the book. While I have to snicker a little at the portrayal of the twins and certain other events and people, I would say that this book actually didn't do the shock we felt justice. I remember sitting in class the day after the arrests, many of us were crying, and there was just a feeling of disbelief. It really drew us closer together. The impact on the community goes far beyond what is described in this book. The whole school was literally changed. Trust turned into suspicion. Many rules appeared and the school was even remodeled to better combat the 'drug and weapon' problem that I as a student had not even known existed. The portrayal of Jarrod's parents, however, was shockingly accurate. I could well imagine Dennis Wall saying those things. After having him as a teacher and having my own problems with him during a trying time in my life, alot of things fell into place after reading this book. Although, I don't think enough was said to explain why they behaved the way they did. It isn't fair to judge their reactions, everyone reacts differently, and I would say their behavior is more indicative of parents in shock and denial who have snapped and disassociated themselves with what was going on around them than being 'uncaring' about the whole thing. It also shows the pressure you can put on your kids and not even realize it. Jarrod was a tortured soul who snapped, and he was very good at hiding those feelings; he had been taught well. This story gives more insight to such crimes than a mere court document could. If you are fascinated about what lurks in the minds of criminals, and the effects of such events on the lives of those around the event, then this is a good book for you. Being so close to the incident, and remembering sitting in the audience during the disturbing rap number at the Variety Show, or being at the dance where John V. first broke into a break dance, it was very surreal to read about such events in narrative form. The one thing I will say is that the author downplayed the Clayton Carter involvement. There was much more rumor about him than was evidenced in this book. The author did a good job describing my years and life at Huntington North High School, even though he describes a seedy underbelly that was not known to me until after the events in this book took place. This story shows us that life in what seems like a perfect place is never what it seems. We learned that the hard way. Perhaps someone will learn something from this story that will prevent future lives to be destroyed.
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on September 16, 2002
I'm from Huntington as well and was closer to this story than most. We pretty much accepted Jarrod's motive as it was explained during the court proceedings, however many of us knew there was more to it. There was much more suspicion of Clayton Carter than was ever mentioned in the book. I don't feel that justice was completely served in this case or he would have been included in the overall judgement. I do feel the book has brought to light many of my suspicions and validated several of them. One thing I did not like about the book was the portrayal of Mr. and Mrs. Wall. I will never in my life judge them for how they reacted to these events. People react to shock and grief in many different ways. I know for certain that this devastated them, and to portray them as uneffected was a mistake. I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to understand the situation better, however keep in mind that even 12 years later, there are still many things that remain unsaid.
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on August 12, 2002
I picked this book up yesterday at noon and literally could not put it down until I finished it last night. What a fantastic author! So well written. My favorite true crime author up until this book was Ann Rule. Now I have two favorites. The writing makes you watch a "mind movie" of all that is happening. This was such good writing and such a compelling story that I will be first in line to buy more books by this author. I cannot say enough good things about the talent this author has for making you see things that are happening. The story comes alive and it is almost as if you are there. The characters are so well developed and the story is just incredible. The only thing I would have liked more about this book is to have learned more about the victim. My heart goes out to his family. This story should be discussed with all teenagers as a good lesson in how the law works and how much you risk by doing incredibly stupid things. An awesome read!
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on September 8, 2002
I don't know what some of the other reviewers were expecting when they picked up Thomas Henry Jones' book, poetry, Shakespeare? Though it is the author's first time out he never claims to be a word craftsman creating beautiful and wonderous prose, it is after all a 'True Crime' book about murder in a small town. I suggest ignoring the harsh reviewers, Jones takes an even handed and sometimes even gentle approach to reveal the story behind the grisly and seemingly motiveless murder in a small Indiana town by the most unlikely perpetrators...All Star Jock High School kids. Jones not only gives the chilling details of the murder but manages to untangle the mystery behind the brutal crime as well as give the reader a glimpse into the lives of those involved. I think Jones has done a superb job of delivering a well-written and carefully investigated true-crime book, go ahead, buy it, read it, I don't think you'll be disappointed.
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on August 25, 2002
Writing is not great, but good. An easy read.
If you are interested in reading a narrative about how "small town values" can sometimes backfire, read this book.
If the town of Huntington, Indiana (through the pastor at their Union Church, some parents, etc.) preached acceptance and love instead of bigotry, guilt and hate, the victim of this crime might still be alive, today. And an otherwise "good" kid might not be sitting behind bars for potentially 60 years.
One also gets the feeling while reading this book that certain facts were covered up, perhaps because "small-town America" does not deal well with harsh realities about (some) humankind.
As we've seen recently in Afghanistan, sometimes extreme and radical religious beliefs are NOT the best things for a society. Nor is ignoring or covering up the illegal and immoral actions of it's citizens.
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on February 28, 2003
Yet again, you can't judge a book by its (lurid) cover or dumb sales pitches ("8 pages of startling photos"). This is an excellent, quick read. Jarrod Wall is very well portrayed. His suggested motivation for the murder is very interesting and quite convincing. However, Wall has all the classic traits of a sociopath & I came away from the book feeling that was equally important in his crime as the suggested motive. Many, many boys have experienced something along the lines of the trauma Jarrod went through without resorting to murder. My impression of Wall from the book made me glad he remains in prison. On the other hand, the author's portrayal of Erick Esch was also good, and I left convinced that he should not be in prison & deserved a second chance. Overall, this was a good, solid read & well worth the money & time for true crime fans.
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on February 26, 2003
I live eight miles outside of Huntington, Indiana, and went to the High School Jarrod, John, and Erik attended. I also had Jarrod's father as my middle school math teacher nearly the same time as the events in this book took place. This book debunked many of the rumors that I had believed in the past about what had happened. It allowed me to gain an understanding of the young men that commited this unspeakable act... I do not consider small town values to be the root cause of this crime. Many events occur in or lives to make us who we are and who we become. The values of the Midwest and values of Huntington in particular make a great mold for building good people....
I think this book will be very enlightening to those from this area, but still an interesting read to others.......
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on August 25, 2002
The last two reviewers -- both connected to people in the book -- must have had axes to grind. (Pardon the pun.)
I agree with the reviewer from California. The book was a page-turner with far more to it than the average true crime story. It contains powerful lessons for teenagers and parents. For the rest of us, it holds lessons in redemption, resilience, charity, and justice.
Get the book. It's a wonderful read by a skillful author.
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