It was the time of the Great Depression and soon after Prohibition's end, when law-keeping was on shaky ground, when the line between cop and robber blurred and, for some, disappeared completely--a time when a good man might be killed over scarce and valuable . . . butter? Egan recounts the 1935 Spokane creamery robberies and the murder of Town Marshall George Conff--employing some novelistic techniques--then draws out the story to its fascinating resolution in 1989 when a number of the suspects and witnesses are still alive and still sitting tight on their secrets. Gripping, start to finish!
In 1935, the Spokane police regularly extorted sex, food, and money from the reluctant hobos (many of them displaced farmers who had fled the midwestern dust bowls), robbed dairies, and engaged in all manner of nefarious crimes, including murder. This history was suppressed until 1989, when former logger, Vietnam vet, and Spokane cop Tony Bamonte discovered a strange 1955 deathbed confession while researching a thesis on local law enforcement history. Bamonte began to probe what had every appearance of widespread police crime and a massive cover-up whose highlight was the unsolved murder of Town Marshall George Conff. The fact that many of those involved, now in their 80s and 90s, were still alive made it imperative that Bamonte unravel this mystery. The result is Breaking Blue, a white-knuckle ride through institutional corruption and cover-up that vividly documents Depression-era Spokane and an extraordinary case that few believed would ever be brought to light.
About the Author
Timothy Egan is the Pacific Northwest correspondent for The New York Times and the author of The Good Rain. He lives in Seattle.
"As a former police reporter I can give Breaking Blue the ultimate complement—I wish I had written it. No one who enjoys mystery can fail to savor this study of a classic case of detection" --Tony Hillerman "An engrossing tale of corruption in the Nor