A call to reopen the 40-year-old Sheppard murder case, as heavy and relentless as a killer's weapon. While coauthor Sheppard, then age seven, lay sleeping in the next room of the family's lakeside Cleveland home, someone raped and then battered to death his 31-year-old mother, Marilyn. The year was 1954, the nation was gripped with a McCarthy-esque zeal to indict the murderer of pretty Marilyn, and so the media and then the police pounced on her husband, Dr. Sam Sheppard. Never mind that Dr. Sheppard, a prominent osteopath and police surgeon, should have been cleared on forensic evidence alone: For starters, not a trace of Marilyn's widely spattered blood was found on his clothes. Dr. Sheppard's account of the murder scene--Marilyn's cry for help, his being struck on the back of the neck by a tall ""bushy-haired intruder""--was loudly scorned by the press and by Cleveland's megalomaniacal coroner, who issued a ""verdict"" announcing Dr. Sheppard's guilt. The trial was, in the words of the Supreme Court, a ""carnival"": Among other outrages, the press published the names, addresses, and photos of the unsequestered jurors. Dr. Sheppard was pronounced guilty of second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. Twelve years later, F. Lee Bailey successfully appealed the conviction, and Dr. Sheppard was freed. Marilyn's murderer was never found, but the authors name four possible culprits (a family friend, the couple next door, and, most convincingly, a window-washer later convicted of an unrelated murder). This tantalizing true-crime story has an obvious tie-in to the Simpson trial, which attorney and journalist Cooper and Sam Reese Sheppard repeatedly note but don't really explore. But their sledgehammer style, frequent time shifts, and needless emphasis on Sam Reese Sheppard's victimhood detract from the otherwise compelling narrative. The story that inspired the TV series and movie The Fugitive--minus the Hollywood ending.