Books by Larry Attebery

Released: Sept. 29, 1993

Lackluster, overcomplicated chronicle of patricide and matricide in southern California. The morning after Gerry and Vera Woodman were gunned down in Brentwood, California, in September 1985, several members of the victims' family told cops that the couple's sons, Neil and Stewart, had orchestrated the slayings. By the time these accusations proved correct, police had engaged in a lengthy process of identifying four Las Vegas thugs who'd been spotted lurking near the murder site, and of linking them to the Woodman brothers by tracing hundreds of phone calls and interviewing witnesses who'd seen the suspects together. The legwork was fairly routine and, as detailed by Wolf (Fallen Angels, 1988 paperback) and Attebury, not especially exciting or ingenious. Meanwhile, the authors load their text with extraneous details—names and business histories of Woodman employees, backgrounds of minor witnesses, etc. They supply the necessary background, though, telling us that Gerry Woodman, a foul-mouthed bully, immigrated to US from England shortly after WW II. After taking up residence in California, he built a plastics- manufacturing business that bankrolled a luxurious lifestyle. But during the corporate-takeover frenzy of the early 1980's, Woodman's eldest sons wrested control of the company from their father, who vowed revenge. A major reason for Woodman's rage was that he was no longer able to skim millions of dollars annually from the company, a practice that for decades had financed his gambling habit and numerous mistresses. Neil and Stewart continued the skimming, though their money went to sprawling mansions, prestigious autos, and designer originals for their wives. But the sons lacked their father's business sense and, by 1985, the company faced bankruptcy. Neil and Stewart, desperate for cash, planned to collect on a $500,000 insurance policy on their mother's life and use it to salvage the firm. A complex tale lacking in narrative drive—but of interest for its Oresteian picture of a family bent on self-destruction. (Photos) Read full book review >