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Echoes in the Darkness

Echoes in the Darkness

3.8 17
by Joseph Wambaugh

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On June 25, 1989, the naked corpse of schoolteacher Susan Reinert was found wedged into her hatchback car in a hotel parking lot near Philadelphia's "Main Line."  Her two children had vanished.  The Main Line Murder Case burst upon the headlines--and wasn't resolved for seven years.  Now, master crime writer Joseph Wambaugh


On June 25, 1989, the naked corpse of schoolteacher Susan Reinert was found wedged into her hatchback car in a hotel parking lot near Philadelphia's "Main Line."  Her two children had vanished.  The Main Line Murder Case burst upon the headlines--and wasn't resolved for seven years.  Now, master crime writer Joseph Wambaugh reconstructs the case from its roots, recounting the details, drama, players and pawns in this bizarre crime that shocked the nation and tore apart a respectable suburban town.  The massive FBI and state police investigation ultimately centered on two men.  Dr. Jay C. Smith--By day he was principal of Upper Merion High School where Susan Reinert taught.  At night he was a sadist who indulged in porno, drugs, and weapons.  William Bradfield--He was a bearded and charismatic English teacher and classics scholar, but his real genius was for juggling women--three at a time.  One of those women was Susan Reinert.  How these two men are connected, how the brilliant murder was carried off, and how the investigators closed this astounding case makes for Wambaugh's most compelling book yet.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The bizarre, seven-year-long case of an Upper Merion, Pa., high school teacher, Susan Reinert, found murdered in 1979, and her two missing children receives masterful treatment from police novelist Wambaugh, who is now building a reputation as a true-crime writer. He shows the dead teacher's lover, colleague and beneficiary of her insurance policiesamounting to about $750,000to have been a superficial intellectual, able to dazzle impressionable high school students and to gather around himself a coterie of naive and trusting neurotics. There is no doubt in the author's mind that William Bradfielda Pied Piper of the chronologically adult but psychically underdevelopedcommitted the crime in concert with the former principal of the school, Jay Smith, whom he portrays as a sociopath. The skein of murder is highly complex, but Wambaugh unravels it superbly. 150,000 first printing. (February 16)
Library Journal
Wambaugh's latest is a true murder story in an unlikely setting: an upper middle-class suburban Philadelphia high school. English teacher Susan Reinert and her two children were the victims of a bizarre conspiracy hatched by her colleague William Bradfield and her former principal Jay Smith. Both men were convicted after a seven-year investigation. The case is also the subject of Loretta Schwartz-Nobel's Engaged to Murder ( LJ 2/1/86). However, Wambaugh's account is preferable. Where Schwartz-Nobel seems perplexed by Bradfield's character, Wambaugh convincingly identifies the guilty men's motives as sociopathic. Also, Wambaugh is a master of the crime genre and he deftly handles the twists and turns of the intricate plot. Recommended. Gregor A . Preston, Univ. of California Lib., Davis

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.87(h) x 0.88(d)

Meet the Author

A former police officer, Joseph Wambaugh puts his experience to good use when crafting his mystery and suspense novels, which have been praised for their authenticity and complex characterization. The author of more than twenty books, Wambaugh writes both fiction and non-fiction. His non-fiction book, The Onion Field, was hailed by The New York Times as "a complex story of tragic proportions... more ambitious than In Cold Blood and equally compelling!"

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Echoes in the Darkness 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Zimmerman1 More than 1 year ago
Echoes in the Darkness is a stunning book, alive with well researched details of a seven year long murder case. Author Joseph Wambaugh is an exceptionally good writer. There wasn’t one boring page in the entire book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was a wonderfully written book. This one will be hard for you to put down. It is somewhat confusing at times, so you really have to pay attention. I had to read some paragraphs several times to keep everything straight. This is an excellent book. I can't wait to read another book by this author. This book is somewhat graphic at times in both a violent and sexual nature. This true story will leave you astonished and surprised. A wonderful read!
VariableStar1 More than 1 year ago
This is one of my all time favorite books. I was living in the area at the time all this occurred and Wambaugh does an excellent job of relaying the entire event. I highly recommend this book if you like true crime with all its complexities.
Macnchuk More than 1 year ago
In his defense, The story occurs over a long period of time with a bunch of crazy people. There are two trials and numerous developments before during and after both trials. The read is a little slow in parts because of the complexity. It is one of the most unusual crime stories I have ever read. So if you want to put up with a lot of complex stories and individuals, it is well worth the energy required. I like fast moving, adventure oriented books and this is not that. It is a detailed, interesting look at 2 very difficult investigations and murder trials.
Abigail22 More than 1 year ago
The troubling fact about this book is that you never do truly know anyone even if they are working very close to the public and not to mention part of our ever changing school system. I would have to say that background checks on anyone working closely with school children needs to be investigated thoroughly. It was a somewhat good read however slow and it was a little difficult trying to keep track of the character's themselves and the roles that they played.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
JW is one of my favorite writers. This is not my favorite of his works, not because of him but because these people really exist more than we want to believe. I loath followers. Unfortunately there is no charge for "stupidly helping to murder".
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Quite frankly, other than the two innocent children, there wasn't a single sympathetic character in the whole situation. Smith and Bradfield were surely twisted, damaged people and the motley crew of idiots who allowed and participated in their outlandish behavior leading up to the crime exasperated this reader. Not being familiar with Wambaugh's work, I wonder are all of his narratives this disjointed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm a huge Wambaugh fan and this is his best work ever.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
A well written book, even if some of the lunacy of this case was either left out or embellished a bit. The fact is that our community still knows NOTHING about this case. Wambaugh was truly relentless in his pursuit of the info. of the case .
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
About ten fox-lengths from the other side of that lazy river, there is a border. This is the border with a friendly clan, but all the same, mark it daily. If the river is too high, do not come here. <br> ~$ilverstar
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Looked out across the river and smelled. He then looked into the river and faster than lightning he stuck his paw in amd came out with a medium sided trout. Smiling to himself he left sents along the border and troted on
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Trots in to watch for any signs of commtion.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She walked quickly until she reached the river. It was overflowing, and it looked freezing. 'I bet the cats are past it,' she thought. She backed up a few steps, ran, and jumped. Her paws just grazed the ice-cold water. She landed, and shook out her fur, soaking wet from the rain.