THE VANISHING EVANGELIST by Lately Thomas

THE VANISHING EVANGELIST

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Hoax or hokum, The Aimee Semple McPherson Kidnaping Affair which developed into one of the extravaganzas of the '20's, is here subjected to an exhaustive re-examination, and while after months of wild speculation and lengthy litigation through the courts it was dropped- the reader can now reach his own unofficial conclusions. From the time when Sister disappeared at the beach unseen (this was unlikely to begin with) to her resurrection five weeks later, after her kidnaping and imprisonment in a desert shack, the story sparked tremendous notoriety, along with rumors and crank letters. In the heyday of hysteria, her mother was sure that she was dead (but the sea doesn't give up its own), there were reincarnations in the various cities where she was believed to have been seen; and, finally with her return, there was the suggestion- denied- that she had been hibernating with a lover, Kenneth Ormiston. The charges that she was ""forcibly taken"" seem negated by the evidence of her tryst- in Carmel- with Ormiston, but Ormiston remains under cover. There is a mystery challenger- ""Miss X"" who contends that she had been with him; the first grand jury investigation falters, but the later reopening of the case seems to have greater possibilities when a trunk is seized in New York- c/o Ormiston- filled with an extensive trousseau (and robes)- and there are incriminating letters in her hand. Once again the case which could not be prosecuted ""with any reasonable hope of success"" is abandoned, and Aimee goes on to make her ""vindication"" tour of the country, her congregations flocked and swelled.... A lively review of an ""extravagant epic"" of fabrication and falsification- this is thoroughly entertaining.

Pub Date: May 11th, 1959
Publisher: Viking