I, a Squealer: The In­sider’s Ac­count of the “Pied Piper of Tuc­son” Mur­ders

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews - LINDA THORLAKSON

Richard Bruns Twin Feather Pub­lish­ing (MARCH) Soft­cover $17.95 (154pp), 978-0-9831665-5-9

Richard Bruns’s I, a Squealer prom­ises an in­sider’s ac­count of the “Pied Piper of Tuc­son” mur­ders. As in­trigu­ing as this nar­ra­tive is, the more com­pelling story lurks within the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the “squealer” and the “Pied Piper.” Pub­lished fifty years af­ter it was writ­ten, this tale is fueled no less by its teller’s com­pas­sion than by the killer’s de­plorable deeds.

From the out­set, one mys­tery begets an­other. Why did Bruns fi­nally squeal? Why didn’t he squeal sooner? How and why did Smitty plum­met from a charis­matic teen idol to Charles Sch­mid, killer with­out a con­science?

The in­tro­duc­tion of­fers an un­canny glimpse of the style and struc­ture em­ployed in sub­se­quent chap­ters. Sus­pense and ab­sur­dity abound as a cu­ri­ous, jovial crowd watches two of­fi­cers ex­ca­vate the re­mains of a teenage girl. A photo de­picts an im­age too lu­di­crous to fathom with­out proof. Then, the story cat­a­pults through time and space to drop in on scenes at their most cli­mac­tic mo­ments—a court­room as the ver­dict of is read; a jail cell where Smitty blames Bruns for his crimes.

Through­out the book, only as much is re­vealed as is nec­es­sary to pro­pel char­ac­ters from one ren­dezvous to the next. This some­times re­sults in con­fu­sion about where in time and place the char­ac­ters re­side, but fre­quently it en­hances the sus­pense rather than di­min­ish­ing the story line. Three ap­pen­dices of­fer ev­i­dence for the most un­be­liev­ably bizarre events while re­solv­ing any resid­ual con­fu­sion.

The fi­nal enigma spawned by I, a Squealer eclipses all oth­ers. How could a true-crime me­moir so in­fused with bru­tal­ity, be­trayal, de­ceit, and de­struc­tion si­mul­ta­ne­ously func­tion as an in­spir­ing trib­ute to in­tegrity and friend­ship? Yet Bruns suc­ceeds in hon­or­ing the in­vi­o­la­bil­ity of friend­ship de­spite un­mask­ing a bar­baric fiend be­neath the guise of his friend.

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