Just months before Black Monday would send a country spiraling into the Great Depression, drifter Connie Franklin was murdered and his teenage fiancee raped in the remote hillsides of the Arkansas Ozarks.
After five local men were arrested for the crimes, dozens of reporters flocked to the hole-in-the-wall town of Mountain View, Arkasas – a place yet to be put on the electricity grids and offered its residents only one long-distance telephone line; where Pioneer justice was dispatched in the middle of the night upon those deemed to be in need of moral adjustments and moonshiners were considered to be among the elite.
If the backwardsness of Stone Countians, with their superstitions and confusing theories about the crimes, wasn’t enough to grab headlines, the man who entered the Courtroom during the trial and claimed to be the murder victim – and Stone County gained notoriety, even if not in the nicest light.
But was this man identified as Marion Franklin Rogers really Connie Franklin? Or was he a just a former mental patient being used as a tool for acquittal? Would Tillar Ruminer‘s bethrothed actually turn out to be just another man with a wife and children at home?
Regular readers of True Crime Zine know I’m crazy about historical true crime and have read some pretty fantastic books over the years but Ghost of the Ozarks: Murder and Memory in the Upland South has to be the BEST, by far.
Brooks Blevins, a Professor at Missouri State University, provides a richly detailed account of the trial that put Mountain View, Arkansas, on the map in his 2012 historical true crime Ghost of the Ozarks. Using newspaper archives, Court documents, and the stories passed through the generations, Blevins creates not only a book that’s enjoyable to read but should earn a permanent spot in libraries and history and civics classrooms across America.
Let me be frank, I’m not even sure how to review Ghost of the Ozarks. Any review I give is going to be an understatement. The only thing I can think to say which might do it justice is this: there is so much detail and research, compiled from so long ago, and pieced together for such an incredible and beautifully told story, that I recommend readers make sure you have the time to not only read it, but savor it.
Simply put: if I could had to give Ghost of the Ozarks a rating of one to five stars, I’d give it ten. Yeah, it’s that good.
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