Almost Midnight: An American Story of Murder and Redemptionby Michael W. Cuneo
On a spring day more than ten years ago, sixty-nine-year-old Lloyd Lawrence was gunned down in rural Missouri. The shooter also turned his twelve-gauge shotgun on Lawrence’s wife and their paraplegic grandson. The crime took place/i>
The haunting true story of a triple murder in the Ozarks, two lovers on the lam, and a death-row inmate saved by the pope.
On a spring day more than ten years ago, sixty-nine-year-old Lloyd Lawrence was gunned down in rural Missouri. The shooter also turned his twelve-gauge shotgun on Lawrence’s wife and their paraplegic grandson. The crime took place in a region known mostly for Pentecostal fervor, country music, and family-friendly tourism. But soon the murders would expose a dark underbelly in the Ozarks: Lloyd Lawrence was a notoriously violent crystal-meth kingpin, killed by an aspiring drug dealer named Darrell Mease.Capturing the raw circumstances that took Mease from his clean-cut youth to the front lines of Vietnam and an aftermath of drug use, Almost Midnight unites an unforgettable range of characters in some of America’s most peculiar locales. When Mease and his girlfriend fled to the Southwest on a hair-raising road trip, this only brought Mease closer to death row. After his conviction, he claimed to receive a religious revelation guaranteeing that his life would be saved by miraculous intervention, a long-shot prediction that came true. A bizarre twist of fate brought Pope John Paul II to Saint Louis, where he pleaded with Missouri Governor Mel Carnahan to commute the sentence just months before Carnahan’s fatal plane crash. In a triumph of investigative journalism, Michael Cuneo gained unprecedented access to Mease and immersed himself in the culture of the Ozarks, exploring its bucolic farms and seedy strip joints, and the lives of its preachers, cockfighters, and outlaws. By turns chilling and riveting, Almost Midnight brilliantly evokes the life of controversial renegade Mease, and the stranger-than-fiction world he still inhabits.
The Kansas City Star
"Crisp, informative and evocative . . . Compelling, vibrant, rich with winning details about scuffling life."
The Washington Post
"Engrossing . . . disturbing noirish undertones and undeniable spiritual flair."
"Cuneo handles these saints and sinners with equal aplomb."
"A reichly detailed exploration . . . Cuneo's writing does not flinch."
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"Cuneo's detailed descriptions of the virtues (loyalty, self-reliance, faith, family) and negatives (violence, chemical dependency, lawlessness) of the Ozarks' culture not only fleshes out Mease's personality but also vividly portrays this overlooked area of Americana. Cuneo's skillful writing allows him to convey the romantic notions of Mease's outlaw ways and travels on America's back roads, while never romanticizing the violence or the hand-to-mouth living . . . one cannot help but appreciate Cuneo's in-depth, interwoven stories of Mease and the Ozarks."
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Meet the Author
MICHAEL W. CUNEO teaches at Fordham University. His research has been featured in media coast to coast. Also author of the critically acclaimed American Exorcism, Cuneo divides his time between New York City and Toronto.
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