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The truth is extracted after 14 years

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By Pat Wellington

Ann Rule is at the top of her form in this latest true crime venture about double murders carried out 14 years apart by a respected dentist, Bart Corbin. I have been a Rule fan for years, but what makes this book different is that she’s avoided using every bit of her laborious research, which often burdens the reader with more detail than needed or wanted.

No indeed, this time she moves fast to her conclusion with a page-turner you can read in a single afternoon.

The book opens just weeks before Christmas 2004: “The shriek of sirens piercing the chill December morning on Bogan Gates Drive was almost as alien as the thackety-thackety of helicopters overhead would be. This quiet street in Buford is a relatively new part of an upscale neighborhood, home to young and middle-aged professionals and their families. ee On this day in early December, Bogan Gates Drive just happened to be the site of one of the most horrific crimes in Georgia.”

That morning 7-year-old Dalton Corbin tries to wake his 33-year-old mother, Jennifer, but finds her dead instead, with a single bullet wound near her right ear. As always, the husband is initially suspect, but Bart Corbin has an airtight alibi – or so it seems.

Few knew that the couple had recently separated and that divorce was imminent. But when her death is suggested as a suicide, Jenn’s close-knit family howls in protest.

She would never have deserted her sons, let alone allow one to discover her body. To police they liken her to a lioness protecting her cubs.

Even though forensic pathologists knew that ballistics and physical evidence ruled out the possibility that she shot herself – with little else to go on the case seemed destined for the cold file. That is until a caller from Augusta tips off police that another woman involved with Bart, a gorgeous dental student named Dolly Hearns had died under eerily similar circumstances. The Hearns family had also never accepted suicide as the cause of death.

The two crimes, 14 years apart and in two different jurisdictions, emerge as the work of a single killer – the spurned Bart Corbin in each case. Here was a man who could not accept rejection and was so confident of his own superiority that he murdered the second time just like the first, even using the same alibi – that he was having a haircut.

Rule delineates her two victims – both beautiful, vivacious women with everything to live for – with respect and sympathy. Their mutual downfall was loving Bart Corbin and then attempting to discard him.

This is a riveting tale of hardnosed police in two counties doggedly connecting the dots. An impossible to put down read.

Pat Wellington is a retired English professor, freelance writer, and faculty member of On Top of the World’s Master the Possibilities, who shares her passion for books with others.