Alice & Gerald by Ron Franscell
Penguin Random House: 4/9/19
eBook review copy; 330 pages
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.
My review copy was courtesy of Prometheus Books/Penguin Random House.