Murder in Mayberry Review
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Madisonville, Kentucky is a small town like any other. Everyone knows everyone, people feel safe, and they seldom have a need to lock their doors—at least not during the day. The most crime they’ve seen is someone speeding or running a stop sign. One night, however, something dreadful occurred that changed their opinion about just how safe they were in their own homes—and just who might mean them harm.

With charm that defied reasoning, the killer drew people to him—mostly women, who didn’t care that he had brutally murdered successful businesswoman Ann Branson, first bludgeoning her, then delivering ninety-seven stab wounds to her dead body. He always seemed to have someone to help him, including his father. But when it became apparent that the police considered him their number-one suspect, he fled to Costa Rica. Little did he know that fleeing was probably the worse thing he could have done, since most of the evidence against him was circumstantial, and the jury might have had a hard time convicting him if he’d stayed.

Jack and Mary Branson spent almost five years in distress while they waited to bring Ann’s killer to justice. The system seemed to run slower than molasses in January, and the trail often became cold. Tormented, sometimes beyond endurance, they helped with the case whenever possible, and they agonized over delay after delay. They needed to lay Ann’s murder to rest. They needed closure. They needed to bring her killer to justice.

In this true crime, Jack and Mary Branson offer an inside look at a family murder. Filled with greed, gossip, and small town scandal, Murder in Mayberry is just as gripping as a fast-paced thriller—but more real and honest.

While reading the Bransons’ story, I did get a little frustrated with them—because they acted as if Ann’s death was the only murder the police had to investigate. And that left me feeling less sympathetic to their plight.

I was also bothered by some of the details of the case. I felt that they should have taken a closer look at Judy Harvey—Ann’s housekeeper and confidante, who was awfully persistent in pointing her finger at the person she thought was the killer. She seemed to be trying to give herself an airtight alibi. And since she knew that Ann kept large sums of cash hidden around the house, she could have killed Ann and taken a bunch of it.

Murder in Mayberry will have you putting on your thinking cap as you hang on every word, wondering if they’ll find the killer and bring him back for the trial. True crime buffs will definitely enjoy this book—and, even more, you’ll enjoy picking the clues apart and coming up with different conclusions than the one that’s offered.

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