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A Killing in Iowa: A Daughter's Story of Love and Murder (Kindle Single) [Kindle Edition]

Rachel Corbett
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (145 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Rachel Corbett was eight years old when the man she had come to regard as a father killed his girlfriend and then himself on May 13, 1993. Over the years Corbett has been haunted by how such a seemingly gentle, loving man could be capable of murder. She's wrestled with how her mother, who had been involved with the man for years, hadn't seen the signs. And she’s wondered what ghosts from Scott Johnson’s past compelled him to pick up that gun.

“The sudden brutality that gripped the last hours of his life—and eternally came to characterize it—was a mystery I couldn’t put out of my mind,” writes Corbett. “What broke this soft-spoken, achingly vulnerable man and made him so violent? His was a crime no one ever understood, with no apparent motive…. Why didn’t he just kill himself? What debt did Crystal pay? And why didn’t he kill us? After all, he was with us the day he died.”

"A Killing in Iowa," Corbett’s mesmerizing, beautifully written memoir, reconstructs the tragedy and tries to make sense of a senseless crime in a place where we least expect such violence: the quiet, rural heartland. Both a mystery story and an evocative snapshot of a place and time, "A Killing in Iowa" is a stunning debut by a gifted new writer.

Editorial Reviews Review

Vinton, Iowa, is not just a place where people live; it's a place where people "stay, sometimes for so long that farmers throw parties when a family reaches its centennial on a plot of land." So when Scott Johnson kills, it rocks the whole community. We all hear about homicides, serial killings, and murder-suicides, but who among us knows a killer, plays with him, watches our mother's heart-rending break-ups with him, or goes to sleep one night while he crashes on the couch in the next room, just hours before committing the deed? Rachel Corbett for one, and 18 years after Johnson's gruesome act, she embarks on a search for details she had never been told, for the child survivor of the victim, and for the deeper meaning of a murder that could easily have occurred under her own roof. Written with passion and compassion, A Killing in Iowa is a one-of-a-kind memoir that chronicles an unfortunately common occurrence of domestic violence from an utterly unique perspective. --Jason Kirk

Product Details

  • File Size: 428 KB
  • Print Length: 42 pages
  • Publisher: Byliner Inc. (November 21, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0068OYDRS
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,648,654 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it. Beautifully written. November 21, 2011
By Whitney
Format:Kindle Edition
I finished reading this amazing story this afternoon and 12 hours later it's still all I can think about. A truly moving piece of nonfiction that sucks you in from the first page and deposits you somewhere in rural Iowa. Supposedly I'm back in brooklyn but I feel like I'm still in the Midwest with Corbett's beautifully depicted characters. I can't wait to read more of her work.
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52 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A small diamond. November 28, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I am a relatively slow reader as I like to savor every word and digest every sentence. Sometimes we crave a tome of a book with layered plot lines and a cast of dozens; an "all you can read" for that long flight to LA. Other times we need a short, well crafted, story where it soon becomes obvious that every word and every phrase has been chosen with the utmost care and precision. Ms Corbett has given us just such a story. This is a tale of small lives lost in the vastness of the Iowan landscape from which there is almost no escape, though many try. Excellent, though the short story is, once finished the best is yet to come. It is so tightly written, so finely honed that it almost seems possible to retain it all in memory. I then spent the next few days debating and discussing the book in my own mind. New insights surfaced, phrases that appear late in the book suddenly tie up with points made in earlier sections. We have all seen excellent movies that only improved as we think about them days later - this is the same, albeit in written form. I will wait a week, then read it again. I know I'm going to enjoy it even more, and gain a deeper understanding.
Well done, Ms Corbett! Please keep writing because we are waiting to hear from you.
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44 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling and beautifully written November 26, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Rarely do I buy shorts, but having read the reviews I decided I would. Rarely do I write reviews, but after reading this beautiful book I felt compelled to. I read it in 2 sittings over the day as I wanted to savour the book and make it last longer. This is an extremely talented young writer and I cannot wait to seek more of her written work for my kindle. I lived in NE (Omaha) for a number of years 1998-2004) and crossed into Iowa frequently. The book brought back the memories of the corn and soy fields, the lonely little isolated towns and the trains. I felt as though I was back there in spirit. Thank you for this experience.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars left in the dark January 1, 2012
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First of all this title caught my eye because I grew up in north central iowa. I love how descriptive her writing was, I could clearly picture the characters and the scenes. I finished the book in two days because it left me wanting more to what happened but when I got to the ending I wondered what happened? When I read the last page I kept asking myself "this is it"? I just felt it kind of ended with no clear ending and left me with wanting more about this story.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Lost in Iowa March 3, 2012
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I loved the author's setting up the story in a quick history of Iowa and how it went from lush geography to commercial compromise. From there on it left me hungry for more substance and more importantly, an objective for her interest in the crime/suicide. She seemed to get caught up in introducing character after character, but for what purpose. Seems she got tired or something and forgot her point.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Story about A Sad and Tragic Life for Many December 2, 2011
By Mary K
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This story is one that stays with you forever. You can't help but feel sadness and empathy for all the characters involved. The author doesn't let you go--she continually feeds you with mixes of love and hate, comfort and fear, happiness and loneliness, including the tenderness of one that turns to horrific violence that will for sure make your stomach turn. This is a must read book!!!!!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unsettling - might not be for everyone December 30, 2011
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As with The Long Run, I purchased this on Christmas Day - my family were mystified as to why I would purchase a story of ill will from one human being towards another! At first I thought that the deceased killer had killed a relative of the author but I quickly realised that he shot a subsequent girlfriend before taking his own life. Rachel is quite sympathetic and even forgiving towards the dead man which surprised me; I had expected her to react in a "That could have been my mother" way. There's a bit later in the story where she meets the dead woman's son and it doesn't go well but perhaps that was to be expected, given the circumstances. The Iowa countryside is described as a place of bleakness but it also had a kind of beauty (jolie laide?). After reading this story the state will have more significance for me than being the venue for one of the primaries in the US Presidential election. The story may upset some, may infuriate others but I do think that it is worth reading and judging for oneself.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A Killing in Iowa April 16, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This should have been listed as a memoir. As I read this book, I kept waiting for the truth to come out. That the murder was a double murder and that Scott was innocent of the crime. That did not happen. Why call it "A Story of a Daughter's Love and Murder?" The title was not applicable. The writer was not the daughter of the victim, nor the daughter of the ex-boyfriend of her own mother. The writer was not "in love" nor a party to the murder. Perhaps the writer can write, but I will remember that I do not wish to read this author again. There are some things from our past that perhaps should remain there. I feel for the victim's son that he had to relive the tragedy, including new knowledge of the condition in which his mother was found that fateful day. The title should have been more revealing of the nature of the written word.
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