Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Esther: Her Murder Haunts a Small Town in Oklahoma by Leonard Sanders was originally published in 1994. My hardcover copy has 294 pages. This is a competent account of a1987 murder in a small town in Oklahoma. It covers the investigation, eventual apprehension of two suspects, and the trial. The larger picture shows the loss of the illusion that the small Oklahoma town was a safe, innocent place to live and questions who, of the two, actually is responsible for the murder and rape of Esther Steele. Rating: 3.5
From Publishers Weekly
In 1986, Esther Steele, a 73-year-old resident of Granite, Okla., was raped and murdered in her bed. The case was not difficult to solve as members of the State Bureau of Investigation fixed on two ne'er-do-wells, each of whom still claim that the other had entered the victim's home alone and killed her. Bugs Adams pleaded guilty and testified against Wayne Sadler; both were sentenced to life. While Sanders's ( Hamlet Warning ) primary focus is on the slaying, he also shows how the murder opened a Pandora's box of revelations about drug trafficking in Granite and led to the appointment of Charles Jones as police chief; he was determined to enforce every law. He did not last long but helped dispel residents' illusions that Granite was an idyllic village.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"A cold norther had struck earlier in the evening, and as Charles Horton brought his sermon to a close strong gusts battered the brick walls of the church." opening sentence

"At seventy-three...Esther was one of the most active people Daisy knew. Esther maintained a busy schedule with responsibilities and interests that took her all over the state." pg. 4

"Only a few weeks ago Esther had awakened one night just as someone stepped into her bedroom." pg. 5

"In large cities, the full cost of murder in human terms tends to be obscured. Each death sinks into a morass of ongoing crimes. But in Granite, where everyone knows everyone, the ripple effects of Esther Steele's murder are laid bare. The workings of the erratic, balky machinery of justice can be followed in detail.
Granite, forced to take a hard look at what it once was - and what it has become - perhaps serves as a microcosm of a nation in search of solutions." pg. 14

"The news continued to spread. Within an hour virtually everyone in the community knew that Esther Steele had been murdered in the bedroom of her home. More and more people came and stood in front of her house, as if by their presence they somehow could express their shock and dismay." pg. 23-24

" 'The crime scene is totally destroyed,' he told Goss. 'The victim's purse, everything the killer might have handled, has been handled by others. People have been going in and out the doors. They've been into every drawer in the house hunting a flashlight, hunting her billfold. at least twelve or fifteen people have been in the house. Maybe more. God knows how many were in the bedroom. People have been all over the grounds, front and back.' " pg. 31

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