Book Report: Wicked Springfield, Missouri by Larry Wood (2012)

Book coverI received this book as a Christmas present. You can find a pile of books from the same publisher in the local interest section of the book store, and I guess my mother-in-law picked it up when she bought me the new Woody P. Snow novel, which she also gave me for Christmas.

At any rate, this meticulously researched book covers crime in Springfield from its establishment as a town to the 1910s. Unfortunately, the information is presented as an era-per-chapter docket from the crime report section of the newspaper (one of the historical sources). We get a lot of citations for liquor violations, a lot of prostitution, and a little other murder and mayhem, but it’s presented very drily in a who did it and where fashion. A couple incidents, including the Wild Bill Hickoc shootout and the murder of Sarah Graham, get full chapters with a bit more flavor and narrative, but otherwise it’s just a litany in paragraphs.

It could certainly have been improved with more local flavor or more in-depth looks at some of the people involved, as the chapters that focus on the individual incidents are the best in the book.

I’ll probably steer clear of these titles and other thin roll-up local interest books from now on. Unless they’re fifty cents at a garage sale or a gift.