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Michigan and the Great Lakes

Secret Witness

The Untold Story of the 1967 Bombing in Marshall, Michigan
Blaine Pardoe
How a vicious bombing murder on Main Street shattered the small town of Marshall, Michigan


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

Blaine Pardoe lives in Virginia but was raised in Battle Creek and Marshall, Michigan. He is an accomplished historian, with several historical nonfiction books to his credit as well as a large number of science fiction and military novels. He is the author of Lost Eagles: One Man's Mission to Find Missing Airmen in Two World Wars, a winner of the State History Award.

News, Reviews, Interviews

Read: Review: Publishers Weekly, 4/30/12

Read: Interview:, 6/7/12

Listen: Interview: WGVU Morning Show, 6/21/12

Media Kit

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 232pp.
  • 15 B&W photographs.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Paper
  • 2012
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-03502-1

Add to Cart
  • $22.95 U.S.

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  • Marshall Michigan, Nola Puyear, Enoch Chism, Mail bomb, Postal bombing, Michigan murder, true crimes, Secret Witness program