The Book Mark

Books that make the grade.

A Murder Before Eden

It seems I come to review books through many avenues. A Murder Before Eden (B) was actually given to me by the author. I had no idea that Alison Pratt had written a book about an actual event in her family history.  She has called the book “A Nonfiction Novel”, a genre a bit unfamiliar to me but one that I enjoyed very much.

In 1947 her great grandfather, Tom Pratt was bludgeoned to death in his own home. The only witness was his young wife of five years Ruby. Ruby’s claim was that she saw a large black man beating up Tom. As she retreated to the safety of her room, she heard the attacker leave. When she returned to Tom, he was bleeding from his head and in real serious condition. She fled the home seeking help from nearby neighbors and so the saga begins.

Pratt’s thorough research presents a timeline of events for the reader. Members of the family and community contribute to the story with their thoughts and suspicions.  Through the insistence of Ruby, a young black man by the name of Junior Edd Thompson is arrested and tried for Tom’s murder. In an unbelievable twist, Tom’s own family hires a defense attorney for Edd because they believe that he is not guilty. The dynamics of the trail are well written and detailed bringing the reader into the courtroom.

It was amazing to me to see the profound differences between investigations made in the 1940s and what occurs at a crime scene today.  Clues that were clearly overlooked then would not be overlooked today.  Today’s technology would have sealed the fate of whoever the murderer was. Even more interesting were the historical events that take place in the courtroom with women being asked to be jurors for the first time.

I commend the author for presenting her story without bias. She draws no personal conclusions and lets the readers decide outcomes for themselves. I particularly enjoyed her ending chapter that catches us up to the lives of the characters after the verdict. It enhances the story.  Pratt shares her family story in such a way that those who love “who done its” will definitely want to read A Murder Before Eden.




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