Today, the name Marion Miley is largely unrecognizable, but in the fall of 1941, she was an internationally renowned golf champion, winning every leading women's tournament except the elusive national title. This unassuming twenty-seven-year-old woman was beloved by all she met, including celebrities like jazz crooner Bing Crosby. With ambitions to become a doctor, it seemed Marion Miley was headed for greatness.
But on September 28, 1941, six gunshots broke through the early morning stillness of the Lexington Country Club. Marion had been brutally murdered. News of her death spread quickly, headlining major papers such as the New York Times. Support flooded in, spurring police in the hunt for her killers. However, the bombing of Pearl Harbor less than two months later would redirect public attention and sweep Marion's story to a forgotten corner of time—until now.
The Murder of Marion Miley recounts the ensuing manhunt and trial, exploring the impact of class, family, and opportunity in a world where steely determination is juxtaposed with callous murderous intent. As the narrative voice oscillates between Marion's father, her best friend, and one of her killers, an ever-present specter of what could have been—not just for Marion, but for all those affected by her tragic death—is conjured. Drawing on intensive research typical of the true crime genre, Beverly Bell produces a passionate homage to one of the greatest golfers of the early twentieth century.
Beverly Bell is an award-winning magazine and crime writer whose work has appeared in Arizona Highways, Indianapolis Monthly, Keeneland Magazine, and Kentucky Monthly. Bell is also a featured consultant in Kentucky Educational Television's recent documentary Forgotten Fame: The Marion Miley Story.
Don't let Beverly Bell fool you: she must have been reporting live in 1941 from the scene of Lexington's most notorious crime. Bell writes with a golden erudition and preternatural imagination that keep the wide-eyed reader up all night—think Truman Capote.
~Patty Friedmann, author of Where Do They All Come From?
Marion Miley was one of the country's leading amateur golfers during the 1930s until her promising career was cut tragically short. Beverly Bell's engaging and meticulously researched book explores the twists and turns in the hunt to find Marion Miley's killers in one of the nation's most sensational murder cases. The Murder of Marion Miley is a story all golf fans should know.
~Michael Trostel, USGA Historian and author of Great Moments of the U.S. Open
In The Murder of Marion Miley, author Beverly Bell takes literary crime-writing to new heights. Unearthing the remains of an actual 80-year-old crime—the murder of a world-class golfer in her prime—Bell creates a lyrical, page-turning novel about chance, class, and the strains of family bonds. Set in Kentucky's Bluegrass region in the weeks before and after Pearl Harbor, Bell's book recounts the crime while plunging us into the minds of an assortment of American characters of the 1940s. From its riveting opening scene, The Murder of Marion Miley is story-telling excellence.
~Neil Chethik, author of FatherLoss: How Sons of All Ages Come to Terms With the Deaths of Their Dads
With twists and turns, heartbreaking in many places, but interesting throughout, I would definitely suggest that you add The Murder of Marion Miley by Beverly Bell to your upcoming summer reading list.
~Corbin News Journal
Bell's familiarity with the material allows her to tell the story in a taut, engrossing manner that fills in the gaps that she and other researchers had not been able to.
Often true crime novels are at their best contrasting the lives of victim and perpetrator. Bell sets this up in outstanding fashion, with thoroughly researched reportage alongside realistically imagined dialogues and might-have-happened vignettes.... Part of the greater enjoyment in this read is how the best of the short chapters stand by themselves but simultaneously play out careful threads of continuity.