Monday, June 18, 2012

Gripping True Crime Story

Rich Weatherly 


The author of "Fighting the Devil" and several reviewers have shared the synopsis and overview of the book. I won't attempt to restate what has been so clearly presented. To be honest, this isn't a genre that I usually read. That said, once I started reading, I was hooked from the beginning. Jeannie's story is far more compelling than I anticipated. I finished it in two days. It was a book I couldn't put down! 


Published Review
"ForeWord Clarion Reviews: Readers who enjoy suspense, strong female leads, and crime drama, like Law and Order, will cling to every word of Fighting the Devil. Those with weak stomachs are warned that this book contains graphic descriptions of slow death by poison. Read this nail-biter with the lights blazing!"

The author and I both hale from north Texas and are approximately the same age so that connection drew me in at first. It is an amazing story of a how this couple who started from humble beginnings became amazingly successful through hard work and smart business practices. The author deserves much of the credit for that success, having supported, and encouraged her husband to pursue his dreams. Over time the relationship deteriorated. Jeannie and Jerry Sternadel separated and eventually divorced.

I mentioned earlier that I won't restate the synopsis. Suffice it to say, Jerry Sternadel died a terrifying death by arsenic poisoning. All evidence clearly pointed to his ex-wife Lou Ann and his bookkeeper, Debbie Baker.

Something I didn't expect in the story involves supernatural events which the author describes in great detail. She experiences a premonition that a brother-in-law will die a premature death and he does so, soon afterward. There are scenes where she appears to be forewarned of danger on a lonely dark road only to be confronted by the face of a devil. Other scenes describe a host of demonic creatures. There are even a couple of ghost stories.

After Jerry Sternadel died, the author's first actions were to protect the interests of her children and to give them the support they needed. As she learned more about the death of the father of her children, her sense of justice drove her to set the record straight. Jeannie Walker stopped at nothing when it came to helping her son and daughter through the tragedy. Her love is an open book.

It is hard for me to imagine living through so much tragic loss brought on by cold blooded murderers all because of greed. I felt much of the emotion experienced by the author and her family because the facts are presented so clearly. Jeannie's loyalty to family and her ex-husband helped her to build support from friends and the officials she worked with.
Much of the book focuses on her conversations with witnesses, law enforcement officers, public officials and experts as she probed for evidence that would lead to a conviction of the guilty.

For me the story had a conversational tone with realistic and detailed dialog. It was like sitting in on a real conversation. From the onset, it is clear who the guilty parties are. Jerry Sternadel even pointed them out from his hospital bed, describing embezzlement and stating they were trying to kill him. As far as the prosecution was concerned, all the evidence was circumstantial. That's where Jeannie Walker's determination and persistence kicked in. She continued to dig for new evidence and when found pass the information to the appropriate officials. The trail was long and complex but she was relentless.

I have profound admiration for Jeannie Walker. One of the guilty parties went to prison; eventually. The one with the strongest motive and opportunity did not. To some extent, this is a story about justice denied. Something tells me that if more evidence is to be discovered, Jeannie Walker will find it.

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