Monday, August 24, 2015

A Killing in Iowa

A Killing in Iowa
A Daughter's Story of Love and Murder
Rachel Corbett
Byliner Originals
San Francisco, California
ISBN: 978-1-61452-018-4
$ 1.99 Kindle book

How many of us have questions about our family's past?   The problem is often that the question needed to be asked years ago or the only person who could have answered the question is now dead. So how do you find these answers?  That is what Rachel Corbett is asking.

Rachel grew up in eastern Iowa.  Her mother like many others was a single parent who had temporary dads.   One of these dads who seemed more permanent and more fatherly to her ended up murdering a former girlfriend and then killing himself.   To Rachel this was confusing.  This man was always loving and caring in her household.  Why the complete change?  Could the victim have been her mother?

Scott Johnson was the man and the killing happened on May 13, 1993 in Vinton, Iowa.  This is a small town where life seems to stand still.   Everyone knows everyone.  There is little change throughout the years.   The village looks very similar today as it was in 1993.

Rachel Corbett has been haunted by this event and has constantly questioned this man who was a caring father to her.   She returned to the town to find answers to the change in this man.

What has bothered Rachel throughout the years was that she didn't understand the reasons for the murder/suicide.   Scott Johnson had been a loving and caring man when he was living at their house for years.  Could the murdered woman have been her mother?  What had caused this violence?   Scott had been with Rachel's family earlier the day of the incident.  What had changed?

Eighteen years before the author wrote this memoir, she could never have imagined the violence or the actions by Scott.

Rachel Corbett now lives as an arts writer in New York.  She has written for the "New York Times," "The Nation," and the "New York Observer" as well as being the news editor at "Art Net Magazine."

A Killing in Iowa beautifully describes much of the state, especially the rural areas explaining the multi-generational homes and towns where everyone does know everyone and many things have not changed for years.

A Killing in Iowa journeys Rachel's past childhood as each person slowly reveals their perspective to the author. As the truth through various sources is revealed, Rachel still discovers that the answers she is searching for just are not there.  Many are a waste of her time as is realistic in any investigation.  Being that she was a child at the time of the murder, she needed to read the newspaper and police accounts to attempt to find out why.  Why had this man who had been kind and caring to her change into someone violent?

Unfortunately sometimes answers to the questions from the past cannot be resolved.   The tale of the investigation is completely haunting.

How well do any of us know anyone?

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