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those readers old enough to remember cbs's hogan's heroes in the late 1960s, might find this account of bob crane's life and death intriguing. robert graysmith's biography touches on his youth, his life as a star, his violent murder, and the 16 years of futile investigation that followed.
after hogan's heroes went off tv in the early 1970s, crane got a lead part in "beginner's luck", a stage show then playing in scottsdale, arizona. at this time, crane was separated from his second wife, and his closest companion was a video trouble-shooter and salesman, john henry carpenter. john helped bob set up video equipment in his apartment so he could tape pornographic sex acts, which involved himself and any young girl he could date for the night. john, who was bi-sexual, often tagged along to get into the act.
john was in crane's apartment on the night he was murdered, and he became the prime suspect. however, a squabble between the district attorney's office and the scottsdale police department complicated the investigation of the murder. it was not until 16 years later that a new district attorney put carpenter on trial.
graysmith does an acceptable job of interviewing detectives, attorneys, and witnesses or family members who were involved with or affected by crane's murder. and he creates suspense in the last chapters before carpenter is finally taken into custody.
but graysmith ends the story there, evidently assuming that his readers have no particular interest in the trial, since john carpenter's guilt is a foregone conclusion. but this impression is false, for in november, 1994, a year after the book was published, associated press revealed that the phoenix jury acquitted john carpenter "of charges he bludgeoned the actor to death..."
robert graysmith ended the crane story before it was actually over.
from kirkus reviews -
april 15, 1993
crane was living on reruns and a kind of supper-club-circuit play he was taking around the country when he befriended an overweight electronics salesman, john carpenter, who consistently failed to score on double-dates with crane even while crane scored daily, if not twice daily, taking polaroids and videos of his romps.
then the actor was found in bed with his head battered in by a blunt object.
scottsdale investigators finally linked carpenter to the murder, but the state could find neither weapon, witness, nor motive and so failed to prosecute. but detectives refused to close the case, and carpenter--who in the interim had entered a plea bargain in l.a. for molesting female minors--recently was arraigned for the killing. gruesomely sexy but not a provocative read. (eight pages of photos, 23 line drawings).
-- copyright � 1993, kirkus associates, lp. all rights reserved.
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