A True Story of Murder, Money, and Family Secrets
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 The fatal poisoning in 1991 of Dallas socialite Nancy Lyon has all the ingredients for a solid true-crimer: big money; a philandering husband; incest; ambiguous evidence; courtroom drama. But rather than offer a straightforward rendering, mystery writer Gray (Killings, p. 687, etc.) contrives needless suspense and melodrama to tell the tale. Nancy, daughter of a powerful Texas family, was a successful landscape architect, but her marriage to landscape-developer Richard was troubled--not least by revelations of her teenage incest with her brother (incest, Gray hints, that continued into adulthood). When Nancy and Richard separated, the woman seemed to fall apart, suffering numerous illnesses, losing weight, and even dyeing her hair as blond as that of Richard's girlfriend. Moreover, Nancy allegedly spoke of attempts by Richard to poison her, like the time at the movies when she got sick from a soft drink he'd brought her. Later, she became violently ill and was hospitalized until, six days later, she died--and Richard was arrested on murder charges and brought to trial. There, his defense attorney suggested that, if Nancy had indeed been poisoned, the poisoning was simply the desperate act of a woman trying to get attention. In order to reconstruct the case, Gray resorts to speculation and outright (if admitted) invention. He suggests that Nancy's powerful family, suspicious of Richard, may have pressured police for advice on handling a potentially incriminating wine bottle and other ``evidence.'' He makes up conversations and contends that the activities of Nancy's physician ``were choreographed as if he spent the entire day thinking of ways to make his future testimony admissible'': This was the same M.D. who, although testifying that Nancy had told him ``everything,'' failed to prescribe poison treatment or to expedite her blood-screening. Richard was found guilty and is serving life behind bars--but the evidence in the case, confounding and contradictory, is hardly clarified by Gray's often melodramatic treatment. (Eight pages of b&w photographs--not seen)

Pub Date: Dec. 6th, 1993
ISBN: 0-525-93710-2
Page count: 358pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 1993


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