From Publishers Weekly:
Ken Rex McElroy terrorized the residents of several counties in northwestern Missouri for a score of years. He raped young girls and brutalized them after they went to live with him or even married him; he shot at least two men; he stole cattle and hogs, and burned down the houses of some who interfered with his criminal activities. Thanks to the expert efforts of his lawyer and the pro-defendant bias of state laws, he served no more than a few days in jail, the author shows. In 1981, sentenced for the shooting of a popular grocer and free on bail, he was killed by the men of Skidmore, the center of his felonies; they closed ranks against all attempts to identify those who had pulled the triggers. Written by a first-time author, this is an engrossing, credible examination of the way vigilante action can take over when the law appears to be powerless. BOMC and QPBC alternates.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"GRIPPING…excellent and disturbing…a fine and richly rewarding book."
--The Washington Post Book World
"FIRST-CLASS…Read and you may find yourself haunted."--Houston Chronicle
"A GUARANTEED PAGE-TURNER. [A] truly compelling…piece of reporting."--Rocky Mountain News Sunday Magazine
Harry M. MacLean is a lawyer and writer living in Denver. In law, he has worked as a juvenile court magistrate, First Assistant Attorney General, associate professor of law, General Counsel of the Peace Corps, and labor arbitrator.
His first book, In Broad Daylight, won an Edgar for Best True Crime and was a New York Times bestseller for twelve weeks. The book was made into a movie of the same name, starring Brian Denehey, Cloris Leachman and Chris Cooper. The book tells the story of the reign of terror of Ken Rex McElroy, his killing at the hands of Skidmore, Missouri, residents, and the subsequent cover up of the killing.
His second book, Once Upon a Time: A True Story of Memory, Murder, and the Law, tells the story of the 1990 trial of George Franklin for the murder of Susan Nason 20 years earlier. Eileen Franklin, his daughter, claimed to recover a repressed memory of the murder. Franklin was convicted on nothing but her repressed memory. His conviction was subsequently overturned, as explained in an e-book version of the book. This book was selected as a Notable Book of the Year by the New York Times.
MacLean's third book is The past Is Never Dead, The Trial of James Ford Seal and Mississippi's Struggle for Redemption. It tells the story of Seale's trial for the murder of two black youths in southwest Mississippi in 1964. It explores Mississippi's struggle for redemption by bringing these elderly Klansmen to trial for racial murders in the 60s. The book was shortlisted for the Saroyan Prize, offered by Stanford University.
Ken Rex McElroy terrorized the residents of several counties in northwestern Missouri for a score of years, and in 1981 he was killed by the men of Skidmore, who closed ranks against all attempts to identify those who had actually pulled the triggers. This Edgar Award-winner "is an engrossing, credible examination of the way vigilante action can take over when the law appears to be powerless," observed PW. Photos. Author tour. Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"GRIPPING…excellent and disturbing…a fine and richly rewarding book." --The Washington Post Book World
"FIRST-CLASS…Read and you may find yourself haunted."--Houston Chronicle "A GUARANTEED PAGE-TURNER. [A] truly compelling…piece of reporting."--Rocky Mountain News Sunday Magazine
I live within 50 miles of Skidmore, Mo. I was 12 years old when the shooting happened.I remember watching scenes from Skidmore on Channel 2 news out of St. Joseph Mo the day of the shooting.
The book tells the story quite well. If you have a picturesque mind, what you imagine as you read is how the town really looks. I have friends from Skidmore that were affected by Ken Rex one way or another and to this day if they know who did it they don't say a word.
That's what makes rural America different from the big city. Justice will be done using the civil system or your own.
The book is well written, which would get it a 5 star rating from me even if it didn't examine a fundamental paradox of civilization without actually saying so.
A modern town, full of generally law-abiding citizens is forced to live with the kinds of fears law was created to protect them from. When the laws turned backward on themselves and became an instrument of the only person in the community who ignored the law completely, the law abiders all became accessories to a remedy forbidden by their own laws.
Afterward, the machinery of justice finally cranked up and spent an enormous amount of energy trying to make these reluctant lawbreakers pay for the crime of doing what the law was hired to do, and failed.
If you believe the machinery of justice is the friend to the common citizen, you don't want to read this book.
If you have a crack-house the police `can't do anything about' operating in the abandoned house down the block from you, you don't want to read this book.
If your wife or daughter is being stalked by some guy who has a history of rape or homicide, but the police can't stop him, don't read this book.
If there's a guy in your neighborhood who's been in prison for child molesting, you definitely don't want to read this book.
I thought this book was great, and I have a little trouble with all the reviews blasting the townspeople for taking matters into their own hands. My family lived in northwest Missouri at the the time, mere minutes from Skidmore. McElroy terrorized that town for decades and the law didn't help the people because that scum had a good attorney who was able to weasel him out of it. Everyone knew what he did- setting houses on fire if someone crossed him, raping the young girls, and slitting the throat of an elderly man. The townspeople did what the law failed to do for decades- take care of the problem. Even local law enforcement admit it a was a screw up. Of course, you can't understand if you've never had to live with it. Read the book with some perspective-put yourself in the townspeople's place
I read this book several years ago. I was on a bus trip to see the Ren Fest in Kansas City, KS and it was very haunting to be reading about the tiny towns I was going by. I got chills when I read that one of the witnesses ran to my hometown to avoid testifying. Growing up in the area helped me understand the mentalities of the people in the book, however I was upset that in the end justice was not really served.
Open to any of many (mostly short) chapters, and you won't want to stop. If you think that heroes, terrorists, and ordinary people are interesting only on the grand scale or in the big city, this book could change your mind. The event described in the title had a fascinating build-up. The author tells this true story crisply but with an appropriate longer-term perspective and great empathy for the cast of characters.
If you've watched the news lately, you've probably heard about Skidmore. It's where the woman was killed and her baby was stolen from her womb.
But Skidmore got its notoriety in the 1980s when a man was killed in front of a group of people. "In Broad Daylight" details that story in its chilling entirety. Probably not since the West Memphis Three has there been a crime involving ordinary citizens so compelling. It lacks all the glitz and glamor of the OJ or Robert Blake cases, but I think it has so much more to say. A great study in vigilante justice.
I have visited Skidmore on numerous occasions since the book was first published, slowly driving up and down the streets, picturing what happened, how, why, etc. Despite the rumors of McElroy murdering people, he was never charged much less convicted for murdering anyone, nor was he ever found guilty of rape. I'll admit, he's no saint and deserved a jail cell, but I'm sorry I cannot condone a town killing a man in cold blood. What I find interesting to this day is that nobody from Skidmore has talked....nadda, nothing. MacLean certainly gives a lot of detail and brings you full circle; however, I would have liked to have seen his thoughts on who committed the killing.
Harry MacLean is a lawyer and writer living in Denver, Colorado. His first book was "In Broad Daylight," published by Harper Collins. This book tells the story of the killing of a town bully on the main street of a small town in northwest Missouri. It won an Edgar Award for Best True Crime and was a New York Times Bestseller for 12 weeks. Brian Denehey stars as the bully in the movie version. "In Broad Daylight" became available as an e-book July 2012.
MacLean's second book was "Once Upon A Time, a True Story of Memory, Murder and the Law." Also published by Harper Collins, it tells the true story of a man on trial for murder based solely on his daughter's "repressed memory" of witnessing him murder her playmate 20 years earlier. "Once Upon a Time" was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.
Basic Books published his third book, "The Past Is Never Dead, The Trial of James Ford Seale and Mississippi's Search for Redemption," which was shortlisted for the William Saroyan Award, given by Stanford University.
In July 2015 Counterpoint Press will release MacLean's debut novel, a literary thriller entitled "The Joy of Killing." The book is being hailed as a mystery, a love story, a confession, and a psychological thriller.
MacLean released his true crime short "The Story Behind 'In Broad Daylight,'" in January, 2013. The book includes nine pages of previously unpublished pictures.
MacLean's first career was as a lawyer. He graduated from the University of Denver College of Law, magna cum laude, and also received a master's degree in Law and Sociology from DU. He worked as a trial lawyer for the Securities and Exchange Commission and as a magistrate in Denver Juvenile Court. He taught as an Adjunct Professor at DU Law. He served as First Assistant Attorney General for the state of Colorado, and as General Counsel of the Peace Corp during the Carter Administration. For the past twenty years he has worked as a labor arbitrator and book author.
His next effort, a memoir, will tell the story of his year working undercover as a prison guard in a maximum security prison in Delaware.
Connect with him at Facebook.com/HarryNMacLean.
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