Almost Midnight: An American Story of Murder and Redemption [NOOK Book]

Overview

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...
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Almost Midnight: An American Story of Murder and Redemption

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Overview

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.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Darrell Mease, the Ozarks-born convicted murderer who got a death row intervention from Pope John Paul II in 1998 (the execution was to take place on the day the Pope visited St. Louis), is at the center of this true crime saga. Cuneo (American Exorcism) follows Mease from his religious upbringing in the backwoods of Missouri, through his tour in Vietnam and baptism into the crystal methamphetamines trade to his love affair with Mary Epps and brutal murder of a drug kingpin, his wife and disabled grandson. Cuneo looks closely at Mease's time in prison, where he rediscovers religion and, while professing "God is my lawyer," is miraculously delivered from lethal injection just as he predicted he would be. 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. The book could use a little more analysis, however, on the impact Vietnam and crystal meth had on Mease's psyche and behavior. When all is said and done, one cannot help but appreciate Cuneo's in-depth, interwoven stories of Mease and the Ozarks. (Jan.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
In 1988, Darrell Mease was convicted of capital murder in the deaths of a fellow drug dealer and his wife and grandson. Here, Cuneo (Fordham Univ.; American Exorcism) traces Mease's story from his childhood in the Ozarks to Vietnam, where he began using drugs and returned suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder, through his unsuccessful marriages and life as an "outlaw." The murders and trial are described in detail, as are Mease's sentencing and subsequent life on death row. When Mease's execution date coincided with a visit to Missouri by the Pope, the Pope successfully interceded with the governor to commute his sentence. Three aspects of this book, the only one addressing this case, are particularly interesting-the transformation of a young, religious man by the violence he experiences in Vietnam; the description of living the chaotic and fearful life of an outlaw; and the discussion of how a special plea such as the Pope's fits into the U.S. justice system. Recommended for public libraries.-Mary Jane Brustman, Univ. at Albany Libs., NY Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
An engrossing examination of an Ozarks triple murder and its strangely sympathetic perpetrator, who avoided execution via the pope's intervention. As in his American Exorcism (2001), Cuneo (Sociology/Fordham) methodically examines a tangled American subculture, rife with extremism and religious fervor. Here, he addresses the outlaw archetype that's endured within southwestern Missouri culture, at odds with the milieu presented to the state's Branson-bound tourists. Darrell Mease was the most charming boy in Reeds Spring, Missouri, and his idyllic childhood bred within him the region's strict Pentecostalism; yet Vietnam, failed marriages, and involvement in the Ozarks methamphetamine scene left him a fractured and paranoid man. Following disputes with feared local drug kingpin Lloyd Lawrence (whose ordinary lifestyle belied a brutal history, including the rape of his own daughters), Mease fled Missouri with stolen meth and with Mary Epps, whom he considered his true love; Lloyd then put out murder contracts upon both. Cuneo argues that an unspoken code of Ozarks vengeance, developed in response to historically corrupt law enforcement, influenced Mease's decision to return and settle accounts with Lloyd; in a shocking ambush, he shotgunned Lloyd, his wife, and handicapped grandson. After several months on the lam, Mease was captured and confessed in an attempt to protect Mary; following his 1989 conviction and death sentence, he experienced a jailhouse conversion, claiming that God would not allow his execution. Incredibly, the 1999 papal visit to St. Louis forced postponement of Mease's execution date; after noting this, the Vatican indeed prevailed upon then-governor Mel Carnahan tocommute Mease's sentence to life. (Yet, Cuneo concludes that Missouri's pro-execution politics have since continued unabated.) Despite a slightly dry prose style, Cuneo is skillful at nailing down the elusive stories of warts-and-all heartland America; he does a fine job of untangling this complex affair's ambiguities, in which idealized rural lifestyles collide tragically with the concentrated violence of both the drug war and state-sanctioned capital punishment. A strong regional true-crime tale with disturbing noirish undertones and undeniable spiritual flair.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307815453
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/8/2012
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 216,089
  • File size: 2 MB

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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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 10 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2013

    Great

    This book is hard to put down, you will not be disappointed.. the Pope did the right thing.. i feel Darrell is not as bad as what everyone makes him out to be.. no you should not kill, im having a hard time putting down the right words, read this book its one of the best !! .... Bn

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 23, 2008

    almost midnight

    this book was very touching to me.i know the family personally. the arthur could not have done a better job and i commend him for that!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2006

    Love it!

    The author, Mike Cuneo, was actually my college professor last year and he is brilliant! Needless to say, so is his book! The way he delved into the culture and the lives of the people in the Ozarks, especially Mease, is amazing! He truly turned a cold-blooded murderer into someone every reader could sympathize with...not an easy task! I recommend this book to anyone!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2004

    Highly Recommended

    A great read. The writing is never less than note-perfect. The characters are memorable and the events never less than mind-blowing in their unpredictability. The best book I've read this year by far.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2004

    An Incredible Story Told by A Wonderful Storyteller!

    This is an extremely provocative book that takes the reader on a fascinating trip into the lifestyle and culture of the Ozarks. The way that Cuneo was able to get up close and personal with Mease, outlaws, investigators, and many others who were involved in the case allows for a read like no other. The story of Darrell Mease's life and surroundings takes the reader on an extremely personal ride describing his SPIRITUALITY, love, dissapointments, the murderous day, and the incredible tale of what happens after the murder. As interesting as this story is in and of itself, the way Cuneo tells it makes it all the better. This is a story that will remain imprinted on my mind forever.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2004

    Wonderfully done!

    Cumeo captures both the events and the inner lives of the main participants in the crime drama he recounts. The book is hard to put down.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2004

    This book is great

    The author captures a part of America that I had no idea existed. After reading a few chapters you will find yourself immersed in the world of Darrell Mease.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2004

    An enthralling read...

    Cuneo's research is unbelievable. The guy obviously got his hands dirty in his endeavour to bring the Ozarks and a cast of its characters alive to the reader. He captures and recreates a fascinating story. The principal, Mease, is both hero and anti-hero. And, this guy can write. The book's flow makes you reluctant to put it down and anxious to pick it up again ...highly recommended.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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