The lines between fiction and nonfiction have become increasingly blurred, but in journalist Pope Brock's first book, about murder and adultery in his family, everything is true.
Journalist Pope Brock grew up ignorant of his family's most closely guarded secret. It was only when his great-aunt was dying that he learned the true circumstances surrounding the death of his great-grandfather Ham Dillon. An aspiring young Indiana politician, Dillon was shot to death in 1908 by his own brother-in-law, Link Hale--a man half-crazed with anger and grief over the fact that his wife, Allie, had just borne Ham a child. To add another twist, Allie Hale was more than just Ham Dillon's lover; she was also his wife's only sister.
Fascinated by this revelation, Pope Brock began his research. In Indiana Gothic, he tells the story of Ham Dillon with the sweep and power of a novel, re-creating the era in such vivid detail that we have the sensation of time travel. Readers first meet the young Ham Dillon--handsome, charismatic, ambitious--as he courts Maggie Thompson, the daughter of a well-to-do farmer. But after their marriage in 1898, Ham comes into the orbit of Maggie's sister, Allie, who is locked in a joyless marriage to the depressive Link Hale. Passion soon takes over, and tragedy ensues--culminating in the drama of Link's murder trial, which made headlines for its controversial use of the insanity plea. Atmospheric and gripping, Indiana Gothic is a bold saga of an American past that is both forever lost and strangely, startlingly familiar.
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Pope Brock was born in Atlanta, Georgia and graduated from Harvard in 1971. After training as an actor, he became a journalist, writing for Esquire, GQ and Life.From Kirkus Reviews:
A deft blend of fact and fiction vividly re-creates a 90-year-old family scandal. Working from clues dropped by a great-aunt and newspaper clippings unearthed by a cousin, freelance journalist and first-time author Brock tells the story of his great-grandfather, Ham Dillon, and the adulterous affair that led to his violent death. Ham, a hail-fellow-well-met farmer/politician, and Luke Hale, a somewhat older and rather staid schoolteacher and minor government clerk, married sisters, Maggie and Allie Thompson. Allie, the elder of the two, found her young brother-in-law's charm irresistible and in 1905 began an affair with him that lasted for three years and produced one child. Given the demands of running a turn-of-the-century household and the lack of privacy in rural Indiana, well documented here, the couples resourcefulness in arranging trysts is impressive. Luke, suspicious since the child's birth, discovered the truth in 1908 and shot Ham to death. In the trial that followed, he pleaded temporary insanity. Though court transcripts were destroyed, the author found extensive press coverage of the case. ``Facts formed a line of buoys in the sea of my imagination,'' he writes, explaining his technique. Brock succeeds in creating convincing courtroom scenes featuring the skilled oratory of the lawyers for both sides, and the testimony on insanity makes absorbing reading. The story of Ham and Maggie's courtship is enriched by details of Indiana life and customs, although the character of the wronged wife is fuzzier than those of other three principals. Adultery, murder, a climactic trial, and old-fashioned clothesperfect source material for a TV docudrama. -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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Book Description Doubleday, NY, 1999. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. 1st Edition. This is a New and Unread copy of the first edition (1st printing). Bookseller Inventory # 043476
Book Description Nan A. Talese, 1999. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0385485093
Book Description Nan A. Talese, 1999. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110385485093
Book Description Nan A. Talese. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. 0385485093 New Condition. Bookseller Inventory # NEW7.0125377