In January 1896, the headless body of a woman is discovered in Northern Kentucky. The body is eventually identified as 22-year-old Pearl Bryan from Greencastle, Indiana. The viciousness of the crime inflames the community. Demands for swift and retributive justice are loud and they get louder by the day. The attention of law enforcement is directed toward two dental students, Scott Jackson and Alonzo Walling. A cousin of Bryan introduced her to Jackson and a relationship allegedly blossomed. The same cousin alleges that Bryan was pregnant and was seeking an abortion. Jackson and Walling deny involvement, yet witnesses come forward with testimony that implicates the men in the dastardly deed. The evidence would be largely circumstantial, but the presumption of innocence may not be enough in a case riddled with yellow journalism.
So Far from Home is a true crime mystery that examines a vicious murder and the clues that point to and from the accused. Author Robert Wilhelm presents the facts of the case in an impartial manner and leaves it for the reader to ultimately decide on the guilt or innocence of the defendants. The victim, Pearl Bryan, is a sympathetic character, as her life is cut short at such a young age. Jackson’s characters are open to diverse interpretations, and the author skillfully writes them this way to build suspense, leaving readers with questions to answer and making them wonder about who the real killer could be. Walling’s guilt may lay solely in being associated with Jackson, certainly not enough to warrant a murder charge. Wilhelm poignantly points out how a poisonous press and the prospect of vigilante justice can prejudice a trial. This nuanced, balanced, and deftly written crime mystery certainly makes for a page-turner for fans of the genre.