DEADLY BLESSINGS: The Killing of Price Daniel, Jr. by Steve Salerno

DEADLY BLESSINGS: The Killing of Price Daniel, Jr.

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A dogged but poor effort by Salerno (TNS: The Newest Profession, 1985) to pump melodrama into the slaying of Price Daniel, Jr. Scion of Texas governor and US Senator Price Daniel, Sr., young Price shocked family and community first by failing in politics, then by divorcing his thoroughbred wife and marrying a local Dairy Queen waitress: a choice that proved fatal. At 27, Price Daniel, Jr., won a seat in the state legislature, but he wasn't the operator his dad was. From the start, he was a cold, rigid loner, lucking into a second term and a stint as Speaker of the House only because a scandal made his aloofness pass for virtue. As he faded into the political woodwork, he divorced his well-bred wife, Diane, and inexplicably courted and married Vickie, a divorced Dairy Queen waitress. She bore him two sons, but married life was a battling hell. While Price found success in the real-estate business, at home he proved stingy and sexually ambiguous. In 1981, Vickie shot him during an argument, and the family--spearheaded by sister Jean--closed ranks against her. Jean's determination to get custody of the children exposed at least one family rift as Price Sr.'s brother hired famed attorney Racehorse Haynes to defend Vickie. In the longest custody case in Texas history, Haynes played up the strange sides of Price's personality, easily winning the case for Vickie. She was acquitted in the truncated murder trial that followed. A stale disappointment. The people and trial remain distant and lifeless, and Salerno's postscripted insinuation (based on telephone-interview observations) that Vickie could have killed in cold blood seems only a reckless and desperate attempt to prop up an empty saga.

Pub Date: Nov. 17th, 1987
Publisher: Morrow