Several years ago, first-time author Franck's brother was convicted of murder. Here is her bathetic tale of his crime and its aftermath. On March 4, 1980, Ken Andre, a logger in rural Oregon, loaded his hunting rifle and strode to a neighbor's window, where a couple and their son were watching TV. Andre killed the parents with one shot each, then marched around the corner, executed another couple—sparing their children as well—and threw his rifle away. He immediately gave himself up and confessed. The next time Franck saw her brother was at arraignment, where ``an avalanche of feelings festered beneath my outwardly calm facade.'' Compounding the author's distress was her continued ignorance of why Andre had killed—even though, when she visited her brother in jail, his speech practically screamed ``paranoid schizophrenic'': ``They're spying on me,'' Andre told her, ``...there're microphones hidden in my mattress.'' While Andre, as Franck and others eventually realized, was clearly psychotic, the public defender decided that an insanity defense would fail, and so he had his client plead guilty to manslaughter and murder: Andre drew 25 years. Franck's primary intent here is to show the effects the killings had on her, her parents, and the children of the two murdered couples (she herself often reacted by drowsing off into idealized memories of herself and her brother playing in the pastures of the family dairy farm). She devotes space to the lives of the victims' children, but, with scant characterization, it amounts to emotionless filler material. And, moving far from her theme, Franck presents chapters on an adulterous affair and her marriage problems, and she offers many saccharine descriptions of her warm, loving, Christian family. Earnest—but poorly written and tough to digest.
Read full book review >