Murder Out Yonder

By Stewart H. HolbrookMACMILLAN
By ‘out yonder’ Mr. Holbrook means outside the great centres of population. One of his secondary purposes is to prove that by no means all the fascinating crimes of violence — or even all the smart detecting — take place in cities. As a chronicler and partisan of the American countryside he wants to show that farms and hamlets enjoy, perhaps not bigger and better murders than those of the metropolis, but murders often as baffling, as bloody, and quite as arresting in both motive and technique. Mr. Holbrook’s method of proof is by chapter and verse — specifically by ten chapters, each giving the case history of a rural murder or series ot murders. Some of them achieved a brief national notoriety, all of them an immense and perennial local fame in their several places from Maine (the murder of Sarah Meservey in Tenants Harbor, 1877) to Oregon (the fouryears-undetected crimes of Norman Williams near Hood River, 1900). One chapter recites the prodigious history of Belle Gunness, who not only murdered on a large scale but butchered the victims; another reconstructs the life story of the dynamiter known as Harry Orchard, the strange assassin whose last victim was ex-Governor Steunenberg of Idaho. The detective work and the trials are made uniformly interesting; but, for some reason as baffling as any of the crimes, the cumulative effect of the grisly deeds themselves is rendered more rather than less horrifying by the fact that mass slaughter is today a commonplace and so much of the world a blood-bath. w. F.