Sunday, April 14, 2019

Alice & Gerald

Alice & Gerald by Ron Franscell
Penguin Random House: 4/9/19
eBook review copy; 330 pages
ISBN-13: 9781633885127

Alice & Gerald by Ron Franscell is a highly recommended true crime drama that reads like a novel.

Alice and Gerald Uden murdered at least four people and thought they had gotten away with it for almost forty decades. Between the two there were multiple failed marriages before they met and married. Alice killed husband number three in 1974. Gerald met and married her in 1976, a few weeks after his third divorce was final, and she became his fourth wife. The two were an oddly suited-for-each-other couple, with Alice firmly controlling their lives. When it seemed that Gerald's third ex-wife, Virginia, and mother to the two boys he adopted, might be wanting more child support, Alice wrote several insulting, unsettling, and vaguely threatening letters to Virginia. Then, in 1980, Virginia and the two boys mysteriously disappeared.

With Virginia's mother, Claire, suspected foul play - and Gerald. She was asking questions and insisting that the police investigate, although their initial investigation seemed perfunctory. After all, Virginia was living a nomadic lifestyle and she could have just decided to move on to somewhere else. It seemed Gerald got away with murder. And then, even when her children were telling authorities that Alice told them she killed her ex-husband, It seemed that this murder case would also go cold. Even when suspected and questioned, Alice and Gerald weren't talking. It took decades and the determination of several investigators to finally get the answers after a skeleton is found

What follows is a long investigation by authorities trying to bring murderers to justice. They also uncovered a lot of background information about Alice and Gerald. When the two cases break open in 2013, it is a relief to the readers that justice is finally served, and it is satisfying, even when served cold. 

Franscell writes this true story in a matter-of-fact style that reads like a police procedural crime novel, although the reader will have more inside information than the police did while working these cases. The book is extremely well-researched; Franscell spent two years researching it and interviewing Gerald.  Alice & Gerald contains chapter notes and sixteen pages of color photos. This is a fascinating case.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Prometheus Books/Penguin Random House.

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