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Reviewed by Philip Zozzaro for Readers' Favorite
“Every crime has a solution. Sometimes the answers are obvious, but other times, layers of deceit cover up the truth,” opines Eve Carson at the inception of Simple, Safe and Secret: The 1981 Murder of Joan L. Webster. Thanksgiving had passed, and the holiday season was in full swing. Joan Webster had come home from graduate studies at Harvard to spend time with her family. She was on a flight back from Newark to Boston on November 28, 1981, and was last seen with a bearded stranger getting into a car. Her remains wouldn’t surface until 1990. The search for a possible suspect would dovetail with a criminal trial involving murder and bankruptcy fraud. Despite the weak circumstantial evidence, the defendant in the case was convicted of that murder but was never indicted for Joan’s death.
Simple, Safe and Secret is a riveting true crime narrative where the emotions never dissipate even after justice has taken its course and the case is considered closed. As Joan's sister-in-law, Eve Carson had an intense connection to the case, but her detached third-person narrative keeps the account of the inquiry and related trial relatively neutral. Readers will find themselves mesmerized by the slapdash investigation's ins and outs, the prime suspect's railroading, and the cool demeanor of most of the victim’s family. This book will appeal to the true-crime pundits who enjoy a real mystery, but also to those desiring to learn more about the cracks in the flawed justice system. Carson has written a harrowing tale dealing with injustice and loss.