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Joseph Wambaugh is the hard-hitting bestselling writer who conveys the passionate immediacy of a special world. He was a police officer with the LAPD for 14 years before retiring in 1974, during which time he published three bestselling novels. Over the course of his career, Wambaugh has been the author of more than 20 works of fiction and nonfiction, all written in his gritty, distinctive noir-ish style. He's won multiple Edgar Awards, and several of his books have been made into feature films and TV movies. He lives in California with his wife.
The bizarre, seven-year-long case of an Upper Merion, Pa., high school teacher, Susan Reinert, found murdered in 1979, and her two missing children receives masterful treatment from police novelist Wambaugh, who is now building a reputation as a true-crime writer. He shows the dead teacher's lover, colleague and beneficiary of her insurance policiesamounting to about $750,000to have been a superficial intellectual, able to dazzle impressionable high school students and to gather around himself a coterie of naive and trusting neurotics. There is no doubt in the author's mind that William Bradfielda Pied Piper of the chronologically adult but psychically underdevelopedcommitted the crime in concert with the former principal of the school, Jay Smith, whom he portrays as a sociopath. The skein of murder is highly complex, but Wambaugh unravels it superbly. 150,000 first printing. (February 16)
Wambaugh's latest is a true murder story in an unlikely setting: an upper middle-class suburban Philadelphia high school. English teacher Susan Reinert and her two children were the victims of a bizarre conspiracy hatched by her colleague William Bradfield and her former principal Jay Smith. Both men were convicted after a seven-year investigation. The case is also the subject of Loretta Schwartz-Nobel's Engaged to Murder ( LJ 2/1/86). However, Wambaugh's account is preferable. Where Schwartz-Nobel seems perplexed by Bradfield's character, Wambaugh convincingly identifies the guilty men's motives as sociopathic. Also, Wambaugh is a master of the crime genre and he deftly handles the twists and turns of the intricate plot. Recommended. Gregor A . Preston, Univ. of California Lib., Davis