A Dark and Bloody Ground

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9780061099724: A Dark and Bloody Ground

The author of Murder in Little Egypt provides an eye-opening account of an Appalachian gang, led by former prison guard Sherry Hodge, and their crime spree, which climaxed in the robbery of Dr. Roscoe Adler and the murder of his daughter. Reprint. K.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

Hillbilly sociopaths rip off a miserly old doctor and kill his daughter: another first-rate--and lurid--true-crime chronicle from journalist/novelist O'Brien (Margaret in Hollywood, 1991; Murder in Little Egypt, 1990, etc.). The part of Kentucky that skirts West Virginia and Tennessee is, O'Brien says, a region of poverty, bluegrass, and country soul, where crime--even murder--is a major activity. Here, he focuses on the ten-year criminal career of two of the region's inhabitants- -former prison-guard Sherry Sheets Pelfrey Wong Hodge and her husband, lifetime criminal Benny Hodge--who, in 1985, formed part of a gang that stole a local doctor's hoard of nearly $2 million cash, killing his daughter in the process. In O'Brien's expert hands, the slow, handsome, enormously powerful Benny and his tough- minded, quick-thinking, coolheaded wife are totally believable, even sympathetic, products of lives impoverished at every level. Also fascinating are the Hodges' lawyer, Lester Burns--who, already rich but unable to resist accepting a fee in money he knew was stolen, bragged about his illicit payoff to an undercover FBI agent; the classically corrupt sheriff, who hired Hodge (as a cook) and then sought to blackmail him into various crimes; car-crazy middle-class sleaze Roger Epperson, perfectly qualified to be the brains behind the heist--he'd already been involved in the murder of his father's best friend; and police lieutenant Danny Webb, who tracked the gang down with the help of a fingerprint on an attach‚ case they'd left behind. The smell of wet, coal-laden earth, white lightening, and cocaine-driven sweat rises from these marvelously atmospheric--and compelling--pages. (Eight pages of b&w photographs) (TV rights to ABC) -- Copyright 1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Publishers Weekly:

In his account of a 10-year crime spree in Eastern Kentucky, University of Tulsa English professor O'Brien ( Murder in Little Egypt ) focuses on chronic criminal Benny Hodge and his wife Sherry, who met when she was a guard in Brushy Mountain State Prison in rural Morgan County where he was incarcerated. Sherry seduced him and, after he was paroled, the two began living together, supporting themselves by ripping off small-time drug dealers. After forming a gang, their crimes escalated until they entered the home of Dr. Roscoe Acker in 1985, murdering his daughter, almost killing Dr. Acker, and seizing a cache of $1.9 million before fleeing to Florida. Tangential to their story is that of flamboyant Kentucky lawyer Lester Burns, who took on the defense for $400,000, despite the source of the money. One gang member, Donald Bartley, turned state's evidence; Benny and Roger Epperson were sentenced to death; Sherry and Carol Epperson received prison sentences, as did lawyer Burns, for knowingly accepting stolen money. This is an arresting look into the troubled psyches of these criminals and into the depressed Kentucky economy that became fertile territory for narcotics dealers, theft rings and bootleggers.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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