A Windblown Classic

When someone who doesn’t read true crime asks me why I’m devoted to a genre made up of quickie exploitation tales about serial killers I point them in the direction of one of the classics. Like any genre true crime has bad books, good books and some that are truly great which not only transcend the genre, they ennoble it. The Darkest Night has become one of those books that I recommend to anyone who thinks true crime is a wasteland.

The story itself is haunting. Two young sisters are kidnapped and thrown off the Fremont Canyon Bridge. One is killed instantly but the other survives to bring her attackers to justice. The survivor never entirely escapes that horrible night though. It must be counted among whatever small good fortune Amy Burridge and Becky Thomson could claim that Ron Franscell is the writer who told their story.

Franscell is simply an excellent writer. His four page description of what it was like to grow up in Caspar Wyoming is reason enough to buy this book. The empathy and compassion with which he tells Amy and Becky’s story balances perfectly with his clear, reportorial style. Somehow Franscell manages to extend his compassion to the lowlifes, Ronald Kennedy and Jerry Jenkins, responsible for the crime. He tells their story as completely and honestly as he tells of their victims. The contrast between the bleak lives that created such pathetic monsters as Kennedy and Jenkins with the ordinary and seemingly safe lives of their victims is all the more breathtaking for taking place in the same town.

Easily one best true crime books of the last decade. Highly recommended to all and essential reading for true crime fans. A big thanks to Dan Bogaty for pointing me to this great book.

Note: Also published as Fall.


Paul LaRosa said...

i appreciate your review. ron's book is great and it's nice that someone -- once in a blue moon -- says something nice about the true crime genre.

Ron Franscell said...

Thank you very much for such a kind review. THE DARKEST NIGHT tells a story that was poignant for me on a personal level, but was also a microcosmic tale for a world where one day can make all the difference in how we see our lives. So I am happy to know that it touched you.

Ron Franscell