True-crime veteran Olsen (Son, 1983; etc.) latches onto the harrowing 1983 murder of lawyer James Campbell and wife Virginia...



True-crime veteran Olsen (Son, 1983; etc.) latches onto the harrowing 1983 murder of lawyer James Campbell and wife Virginia in Houston--shot in bed by their daughter and her Rambo-ish boyfriend. Olsen offers no real insight into the stone-cold parricide, sticking to the boyfriend and the police drama of certain guilt vs. lack of hard evidence. Pugnacious ex-Marine David West finds Cindy Ray (nÉe Campbell) repulsively overweight when he first meets her, but he's flattered when she calls. In no time, she's living in his ramshackle house, slavishly dependent on him for health tips and life-advice. This feeds his long-starved vision of chivalrous love, for despite his noble family-tree he's constantly rejected by women as a punk or a nerd (and for his hair-trigger temper and obsession with violence). Eventually, Cindy gets slim and pretty, captivating even David's critical mother, Cecilia--who coaxes Cindy to confess (after hearing ominous tales of mistreatment) that her father sexually abused her (Cindy claims that her mother abused her as well). What Cecilia and David don't see is that idle Cindy lives by extorting money and expensive shopping trips from her own mother--who, along with the rest of her family, is terrified of her, knowing her to be a cruel, pathological liar. Suddenly, Cindy shatters David by moving out, and after a binge of alcoholic craziness agrees to move back in only if he will kill her parents. So late one night, David pumps her sleeping parents full of lead while Cindy looks on and her tiny sons cower at the foot of the bed. Frustrated detectives shelve the case, but some 30 months later, after Cindy's elder sister, Betty, and Betty's husband put up every dollar they can raise for a private investigation, a young, free-spirited P.I. gets David to confess his crime as a way to prove the strength of his love. Olsen drams up enough momentum to keep the pages turning, but he never slakes our thirst for psychological depth. Passable fare for true-crime lovers, then, but monstrous Cindy remains an enigma.

Pub Date: Nov. 11, 1987


Page Count: -

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1987

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