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A Cold-Blooded Business: Adultery, Murder, and a Killer's Path from the Bible Belt to the Boardroom Hardcover – March 10, 2009

3.8 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In his debut book, journalist Fuchs provides an underwhelming account of how a decades-old Kansas cold case came to be solved. In 1982, 25-year-old David Harmon was savagely bludgeoned to death while he slept in Olathe, Kans. His wife, Melinda, was unharmed and her flimsy account made her the prime suspect, along with family friend (and Melinda's possible lover) Mark Mangelsdorf. Despite stories full of holes, the two were not charged, due in large part, Fuchs says, to the power of the town's growing Nazarene Church, in which Melinda's father was highly placed. In 2001, the case was reopened and two Olathe detectives tracked down Melinda, happily married to an Ohio dentist, and Mark, a Harvard Business School graduate and former v-p at Pepsi. Melinda was convicted but reached a deal for a reduced sentence, and Mark eventually reached a plea agreement. Fuchs never delves deep enough into the crime or the killer(s)' motivation in this compelling case. Despite frequent references to In Cold Blood (murderers Smith and Hickock began their journey in Olathe), Fuchs fails to capture the intensity and lyricism of Capote's tale. 16 b&w photos. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“[...] Readers will be riveted by Fuchs’ debut, which begins with background stories on the major players and testimony by the Harmons’ neighbors, but soon moves on to list key components surrounding the case....” (Kirkus Reviews)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing (March 10, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1602392544
  • ISBN-13: 978-1602392540
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 6.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #761,936 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By K. L. Ritz on February 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What a disappointing book. It might have been a real-life "Bonfire of the Vanities," filled with fascinating character analysis and societal description. Instead, it is a flat bit of rehashed reportage and sloppy editing. (The most comical example lies at the bottom of page 120 and the top of 121: "When one of the men's indictments for child molestation was read aloud, Kristina buried her hands in her head." Hands in her head? Unless Kristina stuffed her fists in her mouth, this should have read "her head in her hands.")

The book is short and the type is large. It lacks thoroughness. I'm forced to surmise the author, being unable to draw precise conclusions about the defendants' guilt or innocence, grew bored with the subject and was ready to move on with his gig [...]. The result represents a lost opportunity to shine a light on many different worlds: corporate, religious, legal, Olathe, Pelham, lower class, upper class, etc. I, as a reader, felt cheated because Fuchs failed to flesh out many of the key characters. Surely, Dr. J Wilmer Lambert, Big Daddy himself and the primary impediment to good policework, deserves a full chapter.

Scant attention is paid to the larger concepts of evil, justice, and redemption. A better writer--Truman Capote, say--would have done so much more with this motherlode of moral relativism. Why does Truman Capote come to mind? Because Marek Fuchs invokes Capote's spirit in the foreward. He sets himself up with this unfortunate comparison because, alas, Fuchs is simply a reporter without Capote's perspicacity, art and soul. The reader gains little insight into a case that continues to haunt me personally and, using one of Fuchs' few polished phrases, threatens to lead my "entire worldview down a rabbit hole."
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Format: Hardcover
"A Cold-Blooded Business" is Marek Fuchs' account of a 1982 Olathe, Kansas, murder and the two killers who were finally convicted of the crime almost 25 years later. The crime itself was a fascinating one. The victim, a much-admired, religious 25-year-old man, was brutally bludgeoned to death in his bed in the early hours of the morning. The two most likely suspects were the victim's wife and a family friend whom authorities believed might be his wife's lover. The victim's father-in-law was a powerful member of the Church of the Nazarene, a man with enough influence and prestige in Olathe to stop the murder investigation in its tracks if that is what it would take to save his daughter from spending the rest of her life in prison. So that is just what he did.

Melinda Harmon and Mark Mangelsdorf, after relatively brief interviews were allowed to get on with their lives. Melinda left Olathe, not to return until she was finally charged with the crime more than two decades later. Mark, who resumed his classes at Olathe's MidAmerica Nazarene College, and who eventually earned a Harvard MBA, faced much greater pressure from Olathe authorities until he, too, left the state for good.

By the time two Olathe detectives decided to resume the department's investigation into David Harmon's murder, Melinda and Mark were doing quite well for themselves. Melinda, by now the mother of two children, was living the good life with her wealthy dentist husband in Ohio. Mark had reached the top management echelon with some of the largest companies in the world, including a vice-presidency with PepsiCo, and was living with his wife and two children (he had three children by an earlier marriage) in one of the wealthiest suburbs of New York City.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
OK. If you want to read a book that's going to get you hot under the collar, this is the book for you. It's the story of two low-lifes disguised as nice human beings who got away with murder for 20 years. And when they are finally held accountable for the crime, they get short prison sentences. The first low-life (disguised as a happily married dentist's wife with children) is Melinda Harmon, who was married to David Harmon, the victim. She wasn't happy anymore in her marriage (wah! wah!) and thought that murder was better than divorce (if you can believe this, due to religious reasons, she thought it would look better). The other low-life is Mark Mengeldorf, a wealthy Harvard MBS grad with a second wife and 5 children (note that his first wife was not Melinda - he had 3 kids with her). OK, I'm rambling. The book was good. It got me stirred up. It was not lengthy, but it was enough of a story for me. If I was David Harmon's dad, I would sue these two people in a civil trial for all every dime they have. Am I critiquing the book or the two murderers? Justice was not served in this case!!! The author did a fine job of agitating me!
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I followed this murder case from the day it happened and then through the events leading up to the trial, read the trial transcripts, etc. which were available on the internet. This all was very fascinating to me because I knew both sets of parents, and both Dave and Melinda. I also have family members who live in the general Olathe, KS area and they lived there at the time of the murder. In general, the author was true to the story; however he lacked correct information in his research of the International Church of the Nazarene. Dr. J. Wilmer Lambert, Melinda's father, was never a general superintendent in the Church of the Nazarene. He was, however, a district superintendent and there is a world of difference. A general superintendent helps in the supervision of the world wide denomination while a district superintendent supervises a district which is made up of approximately 60-80 churches. The author also states that the Church of the Nazarene has a stand against birth control and this also is not true.

I found the story to be a quick read and I was interested to see how the last few events unfolded in the book.
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