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Lethal Guardian Mass Market Paperback – June 1, 2004

67 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"A compelling narrative . . . entertaining and instructive." -- Columbia Daily Tribune

"Phelps is a first-rate investigator." -- Dr. Michael Baden, forensic pathologist and author of Dead Reckoning

"Phelps is the future of true crime writing . . . the best new crime author to come along in years." -- Gregg Olsen, New York Times best-selling author of Abandoned Prayers

"Phelps's writing [is] rare in today's true crime genre . . . [he] unmasks the psychopath with facts, insight and journalistic leg work." -- Lowell Cauffiell, New York Times best-selling author of House of Secrets, and Eye of the Beholder

From the Author

"The female murderer, from a literary standpoint, has always interested me," says M. William Phelps. "She is a rare breed. Beth Ann Carpenter—young, beautiful, professional—presented me with several intriguing and complicated issues to deal with: She was a woman who, from the outside, one would never suspect of being involved in such a heinous crime. She had everything going for her. Underneath the façade, however, I found a sullen, yet sobering portrait of a manipulative woman who lied to everyone around her . . . a woman who used her charm and obvious sexual appeal to convince men to do whatever she wanted. . . . I wrote this book like an episode of CBS’s "CSI" with this dynamic in mind. I wanted readers to walk with law enforcement on their six-year journey and find the truth through the evidence—just as I did."

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Pinnacle; First Edition edition (June 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 078601587X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786015870
  • Product Dimensions: 4.3 x 1.4 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,644,220 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Crime writer, serial killer expert and New York Times bestselling investigative journalist M. William Phelps is the author of 27 nonfiction books, THE DEAD SOUL, a thriller, and winner of the Excellence in Journalism Award (2013). He consulted on the first season of the Showtime series Dexter, has been profiled in Writer's Digest, Connecticut Magazine, NY Daily News, NY Post, Newsday, Suspense Magazine, and the Hartford Courant, and has written for Connecticut Magazine. Winner of the New England Book Festival Award for I'll Be Watching You and the Editor's Choice Award from True Crime Book Reviews for Death Trap, Phelps has appeared on nearly 100 television shows, including CBS's Early Show, ABC's Good Morning America, NBC's Today Show, The View, TLC, BIO Channel, and History Channel.

Phelps created, produces and stars in the hit Investigation Discovery series Dark Minds, now in its third season; and is one of the stars of ID's Deadly Women. Radio America called him "the nation's leading authority on the mind of the female murderer." Touched by tragedy himself, due to the unsolved murder of his pregnant sister-in-law, Phelps is able to enter the hearts and minds of his subjects like no one else. He lives in a small Connecticut farming community and can be reached at his website,

Author photo © Investigation Discovery/Dark Minds

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

96 of 101 people found the following review helpful By S. G. Clinton on October 22, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I am Dee the mother of the victim, Buzz. Mug shots on Court TV did a poor job at getting to the heart of this murder. A&E's City Confidential was terribly slanted. The prosecutors and detectives that viewed this program were horrified with the way the facts were completely twisted. A&E had the opportunity to film the "shed" while on my property. Instead they chose to use something they had to find in backwoods Appalachia; a building I wouldn't let my dog stay in.

[This author] took the time to really get to the TRUTH. I waited ten years, a decade, for the facts to be told, so when I finally get to see my grandchildren, it won't just be my word but that of an objective writer. As Buzz's Mom, if I told this story, as [the author] did, who would believe me?

You might want to review MURDER: A FAMILY AFFAIR by Ernie Dorling; also a book you can't put down once you pick it up. Ernie is an ex-FBI agent and his style of writing is different than [the author's]. All of the people who read one, told me they were compelled to read the other. You may want to offer them as a package. I am honored and proud of both writers and their work. They both took many hours to dig through the web of lies to expose the dark side within the Carpenter family. Beth used and abused strangers, acquaintances, as-well-as her own family members. What was done to Kim and Buzz is unforgivable.

These books bring to the reader how exhausting and labor intensive this case was for the Major Crime Squad. If it were not for these dedicated pit bulls, this case could have been closed and cold. Instead these dedicated and determined men untangled this web of deceit.

My family went through a decade of whispers behind our backs and to our faces; horrific insults.
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38 of 43 people found the following review helpful By B.A.A. on July 14, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
To Anson "Buzz" Clinton, wife Kim's family must have seemed more like "outlaws" than "in laws." Never allowing Kim and Buzz a moment's peace, Mr. & Mrs. Carpenter and eldest daughter Beth Ann were hell bent on gaining custody of Kim's daughter, Rebecca. They were equally obsessed in their desire to prevent Kim from marrying Buzz, a former exotic-dancer-turned-nurse's aide who was desperately trying to turn his life around and become a responsible man his family could be proud of.
Clinton's parents and siblings loved him dearly, and had no doubt Buzz would succeed in making something special of his life. Kim Carpenter's family, however, begged to disagree. Deeming Kim an unfit mother and Buzz an unsuitable mate, Mr. and Mrs. Carpenter and daughter Beth Ann insisted to anyone who would listen that Rebecca would be far better off with them.
Manipulating circumstances, shamelessly using (and hurting!) people who might assist them in their cause, and very often turning the truth into "anything but," the Carpenter's plotted and schemed to no avail. Ultimately, the courts disagreed with attorney Beth Ann's arguments for custody, and sent Rebecca home to Kim and Buzz.
Unable to accept the thought of Rebecca living in a happy family unit that didn't include HER, Beth Ann took matters into her own hands. Utilizing her good looks, legal talents, and some positively lethal feminine wiles, Beth Ann coerced married-with-four-children lover/boss Haiman Clein into doing the unthinkable.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Kim Cantrell on July 27, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Author M. William Phelps writes the mouth-dropping, mind-boggling tale of the Carpenters and the Clintons, described perfectly within as modern "Hatfields and McCoys." This well written story is the twisted actions of two attorneys, most specifically Beth Ann Carpenter, who would do anything for love and custody of Beth Ann's niece, Rebecca, respectively. And to accomplish their goals, they seek out low life criminals who will do anything for money to fund their criminal lifestyles.

I found this book to be one of the best true crime stories I have read. It has everything an avid true crime reader loves including dirty little secrets, sordid affairs and kinky sex, devoted parents, and thrill of the chase.

Five stars to this top author and his exceptional true crime book!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By J. Wilson on March 20, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Lethal Guardian was an exceptionally well researched and satisfying read. Buzz Clinton was an imperfect man trying to get on the right track in life, who married Kim Carpenter, a young woman who had a vindictive and manipulative family. She brought with her a young daughter whom Buzz wanted to adopt and raise as his own. The Carpenters resented Buzz and fought hard to get legal custody of the daughter. Buzz never backed down, and though the Carpenters did what they could to mar Buzz's character, the legal system found Buzz and Kim to be competent parents. In an effort to remove his new family from the hatefulness and manipulation of Kim's parents and sister, Buzz was preparing to move to Arizona. This didn't sit well with Kim's sister, Beth Ann, who had started her own campaign to get rid of Buzz. Beth Ann used her feminine wiles with both her boyfriend and her boss and anyone else she thought might be useful. Her boss, Haiman Clein, completely smitten with Beth Ann, was a lawyer who not only represented a drug dealer, but was also a heavy cocaine user himself. Beth Ann was able to convince Haiman to find someone to kill Buzz. Hard to believe, but the story gets even better and more complicated. I won't go further into the tale, but Phelps does an excellent job of sorting out all the details and people mixed up in Beth Ann's web. In the end, I felt like everyone got what they deserved. My one question is about what happened with Kim and her children. The Clinton's did all they could to accommodate her and their grandchildren after Buzz's death, but I wasn't clear on what Kim chose to do with her life. I applaud the Clinton's for their strength throughout the long ordeal that finally put those involved in Buzz's murder away.
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