Murder in Small Town Texas: A Collection of Van Zandt County Murders by Jennifer Bryant

Book Blurb:

Murder in Small Town Texas, a Collection of Van Zandt County Murders contains stories and events that happened in communities and towns within Van Zandt County, Texas. Various murders are contained spanning over 100 years. Gunfights, cowboys, love, deceit, moonshine, bootlegging, poisoning, stabbing, gangs, prostitutes and serial killers,

Murder in Small Town Texas, a Collection of Van Zandt County Murders contains true crime stories of murder, love and deceit. The book contains historical crimes and murders documented as early as 1870 and as late as 2014.

If you love Texas, Van Zandt County, history or anything true crime, This book is for you.

Rayleigh’s Review:

I love reading history about my home town. Over the years, I’ve picked up so many different historical documents from local yard sales, library cleanouts, etc, and I’ve learned a lot. But this book is probably one of the more “cool” books in my collection.

Having grown up in Van Zandt County, I have a very good mental map of where these murders happened and it was super interesting to read about the bizarre stories that spanned the county over the course of 100+ years. Many of them are still talked about today, so I was familiar with several of these stories, but most of them were new and I actually really enjoyed getting a glimpse into Van Zandt County during the late 1800s and early 1900s.

My only complaint is that the book felt rushed in being released. There were a lot of typos and grammar mistakes that interrupted the flow of reading that could’ve been resolved with a round of professional editing. Plus, the preface of the book is the author’s disclaimer that it isn’t a “history” book, so we’re not to expect sources, and we’re supposed to just believe that the stories are factual by taking her at her word. I have no reason to not believe the author, but this book had the potential to be very, very credible (not to mention “cool”) if the author were to have included the newspaper clippings, censuses, and public documents that she mentions to have researched to tell these stories. Especially since each of the stories includes her personal commentary and suspicions, it was sometimes difficult to tell the difference between the facts of the case and the author’s conclusions of the cases to get that storytelling effect.

Overall, I enjoyed reading it and would definitely recommend it to history buffs or true crime buffs.

Content disclaimer: Some of the terminology is very vulgar in describing various cases, but there is very little cursing. As far as reading age, I would keep the audience to a high school level because of the nature of the cases. Sexual content is not shown, however it is spoken about freely.


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