Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Marek Fuchs Brings Cold Case To Life

A Cold Blooded Business: Love, Adultery, and Murder in a Small Kansas Town A Cold-Blooded Business: Love, Adultery, and Murder in a Small Kansas Town

You can tell Marek Fuchs is a reporter by trade. His facts are presented in a logical yet tension-building order, his characters are true and reveal themselves mostly through their own words and actions, and events and circumstances are weighted appropriately to their impact on the story rather than their potential to produce book-selling blurbs. It is this professionalism that separates A Cold-Blooded Business from many other examples of the true-crime genre.

There is plenty of melodrama in the story itself, and Fuchs puts it all before the reader without making you wallow in it. The Church of the Nazarene could have been depicted as a near-cult for example, but it was portrayed instead as a fundamentalist sect for Christians who don't believe you have to wear wool underwear to feel closer to God yet want the protection of a semi-closed society that holds itself just slightly holier than everybody else.

The characters reflect reality, too. All three of the main players, victim David Harmon, his wife Melinda, and their eerily successful and intimate friend Mark Mangelsdorf, are real people who lean on their religion when they need it, being very careful to not look at the underpinnings of their beliefs too closely lest they learn the foundation is a bit shaky. Fuchs did an especially fine job of demonstrating how Mark turned away from the religion of the prairies to worship at the altar of the corporate boardroom with much the same calculating proficiency he used to purchase, use, and hide the murder weapon that apparently has yet to be found.

I appreciate the way this story was told without the sensationalism that pervades and overwhelms most such books. At the hands of a skilled reporter like Marek Fuchs, A Cold-Blooded Business carries you through a sordid affair without making you feel like a rubber-necker sniffing around the blood stains at a highway fatality.

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a about in the

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