Reviewer Mary Lignor: Mary is a retired librarian, originally from Connecticut but now living in New Mexico. All her life Mary has loved books and has passed this love on to her daughters. Mary started working in a library when her children were young as an Assistant Librarian and ended up as its Director. Her favorite books are suspense, political intrigue and anything involving the World War II era.
Author: David Stokes
book records the account of a murder that took place in Fort Worth,
Texas in 1926. The Pastor of the biggest Protestant church in
the country shot an unarmed man to death in his church office.
The victim didn't know the killer and had only just met him minutes
before the tragedy. The Pastor who already had a legendary
reputation for preaching fire and brimstone was arrested for murder
and was facing the death penalty. The killing made the front
pages all across the country and was said to be the most prominent
story that the public had ever heard. John Franklin Norris ,
known as "J. Frank" was one of the most lively
preachers in the land. From his church, The First Baptist
Church in Fort Worth he made war against almost everyone. His
congregation either loved or detested him. There was no middle
ground. He was a very skilled showman and promoted himself
through his sermons. He was not your normal beloved
Many parishioners ran to his church and some listened intently to him on the radio. He also published his own newspaper called the Searchlight, which was read each week by over 100,000 people. He also sponsored famous visitors to use his pulpit as the church was the largest venue in the city. It was the middle of the roaring 20's and J. Frank Norris was touting himself to become the major religious icon in America. After the death of William Jennings Bryan, proponent of fundamentalism, this changed. On an unbearably hot Sunday, Dexter Elliot Chipps, a friend of Mayor Meacham and a wealthy businessman in his own right, went into the office of J. Frank Norris to perhaps defend his friend the Mayor who was at odds with J. Frank. Chipps did not walk out of the office that day. He was shot and killed by Norris.
This book is a story that will thrill and chill you to the bone. It is a wonderful blend and you will think that you are reading excellent fiction in some places. It takes place during the post World War I era and the first oil boom in Texas. Fort Worth was obviously the center of attention at that time. The story also examines city politics at that time in history. The book covers the famous murder trial of J. Frank Norris and is a courtroom drama that ranks among the best, fact or fiction. You will not be able to put this book down until you see what the virdict is in the trial and the life of the Revered J. Frank Norris. This book is a very good account of what was called the Texas Murder Trial of the Decade in the 1920's. The writing is superb and I would recommend it to both fiction and non-fiction readers.