The following review appeared in the November 4, 1996 edition of Publishers Weekly.


Criminology professor Fisher, a former FBI agent, has written a compelling account of his investigation into two seemingly unrelated murder cases in towns near Pittsburgh during the 1950s. After writing The Lindbergh Case (1987), Fisher accepted an invitation to lecture on celebrated western Pennsylvania crimes, even though he knew little about the subject. Preparing for the lecture, he ran across a clipping about 11-year-old Charlie Zubryd who confessed to killing his 41-year-old widowed mother, Helen Zubryd, when he was eight. The 1956 case made Pittsburgh headlines, but Fisher saw only contradictions and unanswered questions. His detective work, decades later, solved the crime and led him to a similar case: 13-year-old Jerry Pacek, grilled for 41 hours, falsely confessed to the 1958 rape-murder of 52-year-old Lillian Stevick and had served ten years in prison. After discovering that both youths were investigated by the same malicious homicide detective, Fisher's subsequent investigations revealed the true killer of Helen Zubryd and resulted in Pacek's 1991 pardon by Governor Robert Casey. Fisher is both an excellent investigator and a smart writer, capably combining the details of his research with a vivid recreation of the past. Most of all, he shows a fine sensitivity to human tragedies and shattered lives reverberating through the years.