New York Times Bestseller: The “fascinating” true story of John Dale Cavaness, a much-admired Illinois doctor—and the cold-blooded killer of his own son (The Washington Post).
Fusing the narrative power of an award-winning novelist and the detailed research of an experienced investigator, author Darcy O’Brien unfolds the story of Dr. John Dale Cavaness, the southern Illinois physician and surgeon charged with the murder of his son Sean in December 1984. Outraged by the arrest of the skilled medical practitioner who selflessly attended to their needs, the people of Little Egypt, as the natives call their region, rose to his defense. But during the subsequent trial, a radically different, disquieting portrait of Dr. Cavaness would emerge. Throughout the three decades that he enjoyed the admiration and respect of his community, Cavaness was privately terrorizing his family, abusing his employees, and making disastrous financial investments. As more and more grisly details of the Cavaness case come to stark Midwestern light in O’Brien’s chilling account, so too does the hidden gothic underside of rural America and its heritage of violence and blood.
“A meticulous account . . . An implicit indictment of a culture that condones and encourages violent behavior in men.” —The New York Times Book Review
“A fascinating story, and Darcy O’Brien does a great job of structuring it for suspense.” —The Washington Post
“A terrifying story of family violence and the community that honored the perpetrator.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Stunning material . . . Handled with justice and fastidiousness by a natural storyteller.” —Seamus Heaney, winner of the Nobel Prize
About the author
Darcy O’Brien (1939–1998) was born in Los Angeles, California. He is a bestselling author of eleven works of fiction and nonfiction, including the PEN/Hemingway Award–winning novel A Way of Life, Like Any Other, based on his experiences with his movie-star parents, George O’Brien and Marguerite Churchill; The Hidden Pope, nominated for the Pulitzer Prize; The Hillside Stranglers, which became a bestseller and was made into an NBC TV movie; and Murder in Little Egypt, winner of the Edgar Award. O’Brien’s knowledge of the field of criminal justice made him a frequent speaker and panelist on television and radio, and he published numerous articles in the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, among others.
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