THE SOLDIER OF FORTUNE MURDERS: A True Story of Obsessive Love and Murder-for-Hire by Ben Green

THE SOLDIER OF FORTUNE MURDERS: A True Story of Obsessive Love and Murder-for-Hire

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Appalling, fascinating story of murder for money and low-rent lust in the trailer courts and Dogpatches of Texas and Florida. As Florida investigative-journalist Green tells us, John Wayne Hearn grew up in Pasadena, Texas (""storage tanks, chemical plants, and belching smokestacks...as far as the eye can see""), and escaped to Vietnam. After two tours, he returned to a boring 18-wheeler driving job and combat flashbacks. But one clay while reading Soldier of Fortune magazine, inspiration struck. Hearn placed an ad for his ""World Security Group,"" which offered the services of ""'Nam vets willing to take on high-risk assignments."" Soon 20 to 30 calls a clay came in from contra suppliers, drug distributors, dirty-money dealers, and people looking to do away with their spouses, lovers, business partners, etc. One of these was Debbie Bannister, steamy siren of the Sims clan--a clutch of redneck queens given to pistolwhipping recalcitrant boyfriends. Romancing Hearn through a string of no-tell motels in Georgia and Florida, Bannister convinced him that she was worth killing for. Hearn came to stay with her family on Starvation Hill in Gainesville, Florida: first up was Bannister's sister's husband. Hearn quoted $10,000--which the Simses raised by burning down Granny's house for the insurance. The husband took two 12-gauge magnum rounds in the face while he slept. Next up was Bannister's own husband, who got caught in the sights of an AR-7 while driving home one night. On the lam, Hearn killed a housewife in Texas for $1000, which he spent taking his inamorata and her children to Disney World. Green gives all the tasty crime details, outstanding portraits of the lawmen who ran Hearn to ground, and vivid shots of little-seen rural hamlets. In a coda, he follows various lawsuits brought against Soldier of Fortune--""the flagship of the violence industry in America""--for its classified ads. Top-drawer lowlife saga.

Pub Date: Jan. 14th, 1992
Page count: 496pp
Publisher: Delacorte