SHALLOW GRAVE IN TRINITY COUNTY by Harry Farrell

SHALLOW GRAVE IN TRINITY COUNTY

Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

 A heart-stopping study of the infamous Stephanie Bryan murder trial, four decades after the crime. Farrell, an Edgar Award winner (Swift Justice, 1992), was a rewrite man at the San Jose Mercury News when word broke of the Bryan kidnapping, a case that shocked the sleepy Berkeley community. Stephanie was the pretty, brainy teenage daughter of a doctor who had recently moved to California from Massachusetts. Her mother had shown her a shortcut from school, and when Stephanie was walking home one September afternoon, tragedy struck in the form of Burton Abbott, a married 27-year-old studying to be an accountant. Stephanie apparently got into Abbott's car, and her family never saw her again. Farrell makes excellent use of newspaper accounts of the mounting horror throughout California as it became clear that Stephanie had been kidnapped. When her body was found in a shallow grave near Abbott's mountain home, the case was sealed against him. Farrell chooses to focus on the Abbott family and on Burton in particular, a man so emotionally distant that the doctor who administered a lie detector test to him said that of all the men he had ever examined, ``Herman Goering and Burton Abbott were the most self-centered.'' While Stephanie never fully comes alive to the reader, the description of the singular Abbott family and the trial is as compelling as it is unnerving. Abbott never admits his guilt, despite such evidence as Stephanie's purse and muddy bra buried in his basement. After little more than a year on death row, Abbott was put to death in the gas chamber. Two years later, emotionally devastated, Stephanie's father died of a sudden heart attack. A chilling look at an old crime that seems sadly modern; true-crime buffs won't want to miss it. (For another look at this case, as well as other kidnappings in America, see below, Paula S. Fass, Kidnapped.)

Pub Date: Nov. 13th, 1997
ISBN: 0-312-17009-2
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1997




SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

IndieThe Well by David A. Epperson
by David A. Epperson