Sunday, February 5, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: Delivered from Evil by Ron Franscell

Delivered from Evil: True Stories of Ordinary People Who Faced Monstrous Mass Killers and Survived
Ron Franscell
Fair Winds Press: Beverly, Massachusetts; 2011.

Review by Robert A. Waters

“The past is gone on River Road, as if maybe it never happened.” So begins the first of ten remarkable stories. These headline-grabbing mass murders left an indelible print on the nation--and the surviving victims. Charles Whitman sniped dozens of people from the University of Texas observation tower, killing sixteen. Psycho James Huberty spent seventy-seven minutes gunning down patrons and employees at a San Ysidro, California McDonald's Restaurant. George Hennard crashed his truck into Luby's Cafeteria in Killen, Texas and methodically shot 47 customers.

The killers in Delivered from Evil became forever infamous. But their victims were relegated to obscurity to fight the demons that haunted them. Ron Franscell has pieced together the inspiring lives of ten of these survivors.

Suzanne Gratia escaped the Luby's shooting. Her mother and father, who were dining with her, did not. Frustration and guilt dogged the Texas chiropractor because she’d left a loaded pistol in her car. (At the time, it was against the law in Texas to carry a gun into an eating establishment.) During the massacre, Gratia had a clean shot that could have ended the rampage. She later became a legislator and helped streamline Texas’ concealed carry laws so permit holders can protect themselves in restaurants.

One of the nation's first mass shootings occurred in Camden, New Jersey. In 1949, war veteran Howard Unruh walked down 32nd Street blasting anyone who moved. When the bloodbath ended, thirteen bodies lay in businesses, on sidewalks, and in cars. Twelve-year-old Charles Cohen hid in a closet as his father, mother, and grandmother were gunned down. Unruh was sentenced to life in a psychiatric institution. Years later, when the killer asked to be transferred to a minimum security mental health facility, Cohen spoke out for the first time.

Within hours after Julian Harvey learned that eleven-year-old Terri Jo Duperrault had been found alive and floating on a cork life raft in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, he drove to his motel room and cut his jugular vein. Three days before, the skipper of the chartered ketch Bluebell had murdered five people: his wife and almost the entire Dupperrault family. Only Terri Jo lived. After floating in open shark-infested waters for three days, a Greek ship rescued her. The motive for Harvey’s mad crime was to collect an insurance policy on his wife.

Ron Franscell is one of my favorite authors. He brings life to the sad dramas that take place in the recesses of crime. Delivered from Evil is his fourth true crime book and one of his best. I urge my readers to grab your Nook or your Kindle or rush to your favorite book store and buy it.

You won't be disappointed.

Book trailer narrated by author Ron Franscell

No comments: