Alison Pratt. A Murder Before Eden. Morrisville, NC: Lulu.com, 2010.

The adage that claims that “Truth is stranger than fiction” is often proven true. Newspapers publish “Weird News” sections, family folklore (albeit possibly embellished a little) is passed down through the generations, and history books always have their fair share of bizarre tales.

One such head-scratcher is set in 1940s Leaksville, North Carolina, which is now Eden. Tom Pratt, an elderly man, is viciously murdered in the middle of the night in his cabin. Only his wife, Ruby, caught a glimpse of the intruder. As the authorities begin to build an easy case against Junior Thompson, a neighbor who recently escaped from prison, Tom’s family begins to question that theory. Ruby’s description of the killer fails to match Junior’s appearance, and the circumstances of the crime seem highly unusual. Then there is the fact that they do not necessarily trust Ruby, the much younger and somewhat estranged wife of their father. Could she have something to do with the crime, allowing a possibly innocent African American man to be the scapegoat? Or is the Pratt family so caught up with questioning Ruby – to the point that they hire a lawyer to defend Junior – that they ignore all other possibilities? Only a small town jury can decide, but their ruling does not stop Leaksville residents from speculating for years to come.

This book is based on a real event, one that Alison Pratt has meticulously researched. In the book’s second part, she offers a follow up on the characters’ real lives as well as her own questions related to the case.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, Historical, Piedmont, Pratt, Alison, Rockingham

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