IN A CHILD'S NAME: The Legacy of a Mother's Murder by Peter Maas
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IN A CHILD'S NAME: The Legacy of a Mother's Murder

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Gripping true-crime about a sociopathic dentist, his wife's murder, and the court battles raging over his son; by the author of Serpico, The Valachi Papers, Father and Son, etc. Maas first worked up this material as a piece for The New York Times Sunday Magazine (""The Legacy of a Mother's Murder"") and now has expanded it. As an article, it exposed what amounted to a legal kidnapping by the dentist's family, seemingly sanctioned by Indiana law. That purpose no longer exists, since the court custody/adoption case that formed its keel has been resolved in favor of the murdered wife's family. The reader's larger interest focuses on villainous Ken Taylor, not his five-month-old infant son, who gets bounced like a basketball between two families. Raised in Marion, Indiana, deep in the Bible Belt, Taylor saw himself and his parents as ""the 'picture' of the American Protestant family."" In college he eloped with Emily Latrelle, an Indiana farm girl, found an early fondness for easily supplied pot, hash, amphetamines, and cocaine (which disrupted family life), and callously refused to acknowledge paternity of his first child. He left Emily for a sexy, hard-nosed airline hostess, Marilyn Hope, and moved to Connecticut. Now a Navy dentist with easy access to drugs, he began philandering, became overdrugged, heard voices, tried to chloroform and murder Marilyn, failed in the attempt and was hospitalized as a psychiatric case. Discharged, he opened a dental center in Brooklyn, took up with his dental hygienist, Teresa Benigno, was divorced by Marilyn and married Teresa. On their honeymoon in Mexico, he chloroformed and beat her nearly to death, but she lived; later, he murdered her successfully, massively crushing her skull with a dumbbell bar; drove to Pittsburgh to see Marilyn and enjoy her wonderful breast implants, and at last confessed to a police lieutenant. Maas details the investigation and Ken's trial, 30-year conviction, and tries at jailbreak, and the excruciating court battle over which family should raise his and Teresa's son. Strong story, but without the hard punch of the original article.

Pub Date: Nov. 21st, 1990
Publisher: Simon & Schuster