Kirkus Reviews QR Code
BLOOD GAMES by Jerry Bledsoe

BLOOD GAMES

A True Account of Family Murder

By Jerry Bledsoe

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-525-93369-7
Publisher: Dutton

 Chilling if overlong true-crime chronicle by the author of the bestselling Bitter Blood (1988). Here, as in the earlier work, the setting is North Carolina and again the narrative revolves about a brutal murder committed by a family member. Though less involving than Bitter Blood, this is nonetheless top-notch reporting. In mid-1988, a hooded figure burst into the bedroom of Lieth and Bonnie Von Stein in the town of Washington, N.C. The intruder bludgeoned and stabbed the pair, leaving Lieth dead and Bonnie gravely wounded. The woman was able to summon aid and eventually survived. Suspicion soon focused on Chris Pritchard, Bonnie's son by a previous marriage. Chris was a college student in nearby Raleigh, where he apparently was less interested in his studies than he was in drugs and the game Dungeons & Dragons. Evidence, including a crudely drawn map of the area and a charred baseball bat, was discovered near the scene and seemed to link the young man to the crime. Bledsoe traces the subsequent police investigation in painstaking detail, showing how it eventually became clear that Chris had enlisted the aid of two college chums, Neal Henderson and James Upchurch, and masterminded the plot to kill his mother and stepfather in order to inherit their multimillion-dollar estate. The author is especially effective in capturing the aimlessness and amorality of the campus scene, though he does tend to overload his narrative with such details as street addresses and incidental figures in the story. Also, the linkage he attempts to establish between Dungeons & Dragons and the crime seems tenuous. Still, by and large, a worthwhile follow-up to Bledsoe's earlier blockbuster--but for a richer, more riveting account of the same crime, see Joe McGinniss's Cruel Doubt, reviewed below. (Eight pages of photographs--not seen.)