Every small town has a moment when the real world abruptly intrudes, shattering the town's notions of itself and its people. For citizens of Marshall, Michigan, that moment came August 18, 1967. Nola Puyear was working downtown at the Tasty Cafe that morning when she received a package. She opened it and was instantly killed in a fiery explosion.
In the months that followed, law enforcement and prosecutors wrestled with a crime that to all appearances was senseless. Evidence recovered from the blown-up restaurant, including a bottle of pills that had been tainted with lye, suggested a concerted plot to murder Mrs. Puyear. But why had someone wanted to kill the well-liked woman, by all accounts a pillar of her close-knit community? For that matter, was Marshall really the quaint paradise it seemed to be?
Secret Witness brings to light startling new evidence and freshly uncovered facts to address these and other questions that, to this day, surround one of Michigan's most brutal murders. Based on extensive interviews with surviving prosecutors, police, and witnesses, Blaine Pardoe re-creates the investigation that pried into Marshall's dark underbelly and uncovered the seamy private lives led by some of the town's citizenry but led to only tenuous theories about the bombing. The book also examines the pivotal role played by the Secret Witness program, an initiative by the Detroit News that offered rewards for anonymous tips related to violent crimes. What's ultimately revealed is the true depth of evil that occurred in Marshall that day. Every small town has dirty little secrets. This time, they were deadly.
"Secret Witness reads like a Jim Thompson noir novel, burrowing into the dark crevices of the rural American landscape. But this is no fictional work of fevered imagination; it's the real thing. Blaine Pardoe nimbly explores his story of murder, sex, and psychopaths in what makes for a crackling good read. This is a real 'can't put it down' page turner!"
—Arnie Bernstein, author of Bath Massacre: America's First School Bombing
Read: Review: Publishers Weekly, 4/30/12
Read: Interview: MLive.com, 6/7/12
Listen: Interview: WGVU Morning Show, 6/21/12