SOMETHING TERRIBLE HAS HAPPENED by Peter Van Slingerland

SOMETHING TERRIBLE HAS HAPPENED

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In 1931, listless, unhappy, unsociable Thalia Massie, the wife of a gregarious Navy Lt. J.G., stationed in Hawaii, left a party alone, later claimed to have been attacked and raped by some ""Hawaiians."" All of her story was very unsatisfactory (there was no medical evidence thereof) and even though a Japanase, Horace Ida, was implicated by his license plate number, the jury failed to reach a verdict. But the Massie case was anything but over; the Navy's honor was impugned along with that of American womanhood; so was Hawaii's aspiration to statehood and right to home rule; and Thalia's mother and Massie, driven to ""heroic extremity in defense"" of Thalia's virtue, kidnapped and murdered one of the exonerated defendants. Darrow was retained in their defense; Hearst even more flamboyantly championed the ""honor killing""; and it almost seems as if the fate which was worse than death was justified by death since while Massie and his mother in law were found guilty, the sentence--ten years--was commuted to one hour....The many implications--racial, social and political, give the case an interest far beyond its continuing conjectural aspects and they have not been minimized here. They structure this intensive re-run, along with large parts of the trial transcript. It's a very good job, and even though there will be two other books this fall on the same case (Hawthorn and Random House), it's hard to imagine that they could be better.

Pub Date: Sept. 28th, 1966
Publisher: Harper & Row