Reviewed by Ellen Wallace
Put on your fedora, sit back and enjoy one of the best period true-crime books to be released recently.
“Deadly Hero” by Jason Lucky Morrow takes the reader back to the heartland of America — Tulsa, Oklahoma, in the mid-1930s. The book illuminates how power, money, and a killer who is right on the edge of sanity combined to produce a tragedy that rocked Oklahoma for decades after the crime.
“Deadly Hero” is the story on two “rich kids” from Tulsa and a scheme involving get-rich-quick-money and a damsel in distress. Setting up this convoluted convergence of story lines takes Morrow’s gift to cut to the chase and boil the story down. The heart of the book reveals how the killing of one of those boys occurred, a brazen claim of self-defense and how the parents of both young men reacted to the crime and the ensuing trial.
Morrow is the perfect storyteller for this crime. His prose is crisp, no-nonsense and uses just enough period lingo to shed light an era when the justice system was easily swayed not by what was right, but by the connections of the criminal. Morrow’s research and careful examination of hundred of pages of court notes, newspaper archives and first-person interviews are handled with care and accuracy.
Morrow’s earlier career as a reporter provides him a solid footing to approach this type of book. “Deadly Hero,” however, is more than this — it’s a look at the dark side of the newspaper business in the 1930’s and how it fed hysteria as reporters worked fast-and-loose to cover the murder.
It also describes the painfully slow legal process that is as true today as it was then, and how political power may or may not help when a parent is protecting his child who has done something unspeakable.
The story is filled with many characters (even some who gave police false names), the rumors of unknown illegal past behavior of the victim and his killer and a town all too eager to spread gossip as gospel. Morrow’s attention to detail is evident on every page. The book includes footnotes, maps and photographs that help readers understand a time that few lived in. The story unfolds at a great clip, and the author makes additional impact by providing insights into an era when being a cop, detective or reporter were just beginning as true professions in America.
“Deadly Hero” is a great read that reminds one of the black-and-white films that we all love to watch on dark, stormy nights. Enjoy.
VISIT Morrow’s website Historical Crime Detective HERE.