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Judgment Ridge: The True Story Behind the Dartmouth Murders Hardcover – September 16, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
In this meandering yet irresistibly absorbing book, Lehr (co-author of the bestselling Black Mass, about a turncoat FBI agent) and Zuckoff (Choosing Naia, about a Down syndrome child) recount the harrowing story of the murders of Half and Susanne Zantop, two beloved Dartmouth College professors who were savagely butchered in their home on January 27, 2001. The messy crime scene soon led investigators to James Parker and Robert Tulloch, a couple of popular teenagers from nearby Chelsea, Vt. But after being interviewed by detectives, the two promptly fled, leading authorities on a three-day manhunt that ended abruptly at a truck stop in Illinois. While the stunned and bewildered residents of Chelsea muscled their way through choking crowds of reporters (the already sensational story was made all the more lurid by the suspects' youth and the sleepy, idyllic setting) and came to terms with the unimaginable (two of their own townspeople were murderers), Parker and Tulloch were remanded to New Hampshire and arraigned on murder charges that were supported by an arsenal of incriminating evidence. Although the authors (Lehr supplies the grit and Zuckoff the sympathetic touch) assiduously reconstruct the events surrounding the pointless double homicide (Parker and Tulloch made off with a whopping $340), the authors appear to have been reluctant to omit any mundane detail or passing commentary, bogging down their energetic narrative in its own research. But the authors nicely expose the strange relationship between these two boys, their muddleheaded motivations for the crime, and Tulloch's arrogant and volatile personality, disregarded by his family and teachers as youthful exuberance when in fact it was the self-absorbed posturing of a burgeoning psychopath. 16 illus. not seen by PW.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From The New Yorker
In January, 2001, Half and Susanne Zantop, popular professors at Dartmouth College, were murdered in their home in New Hampshire. Clever detective work linked knife sheaths found at the scene to a pair of teen-agers, Robert Tulloch and Jim Parker, who lived in an isolated Vermont town thirty miles away. Confronted by police, the boys fled; eventually, they were tracked down in Indiana. Parker, the sidekick, struck a plea bargain that may free him in sixteen years, but Tulloch pleaded guilty and received a sentence of life without parole. Zuckoff and Lehr, who covered the case for the Boston Globe, examine in fascinating detail the ordinariness of the boys' grudges—typical high-school controversies about the student council and the debate team—and how, in Tulloch's twisted mind, the idea of random killing became an obsession.
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker
Top customer reviews
Truman Capote had spent much time with Perry Smith, building a relationship with him, that virtually destroyed Capote in the end.
The authors of this book interviewed people related to the murders and not the actual murderers themselves. This makes the book much more clinical and detached in feeling than Capote's book. It's still good, but doesn't give quite as much insight into the mind and heart of the "good boy", James, as Capote's does into the mind of Perry Smith.
Both books delve into the criminal psychology of how one pathological person can seize control of the mind of another person, who may have the same proclivities but may never have acted upon them without the "push" from the other.
Interesting study. Not detailed enough into the early childhood of either boy. Left me feeling there was a lot unsaid, or many questions unasked other than to those who saw no wrong in the boys. Many "allusions" to those who saw problems, but the people who seemed to see problems, weren't interviewed. Perhaps the wounds were too deep, or the crimes too fresh for people to talk.
As stated, interesting, but left unsatisfied if you were really looking for answers. Was Robert a sociopath? Were James' tears at his sentencing truly for the family of those he murdered, or only for himself? We'll never know.
The author took me on a journey behind the scenes and into these four lives and all the other lives this crime affected and even though I gained an understanding somewhat, all it did really was compound the original sadness of such promising loss, the couple killed and the murderers in prison..
Well written, although at times I wanted to get to the end. The writer explains these lives in true detail.
I recommend this book to everyone who enjoys reading about true crime. However, it's a long book with lots of details, so if you like reading only short stories, this is not for you. But it's a learning experience so I gave it a try and enjoyed it.
I gave a 5 star rating because it's so well written, documented and organized.