The Death of an Heir: Adolph Coors III and the Murder That Rocked an American Brewing Dynasty by Philip Jett – review

The Death of an Heir: Adolph Coors III and the Murder That Rocked an American Brewing DynastyThe Death of an Heir: Adolph Coors III and the Murder That Rocked an American Brewing Dynasty by Philip Jett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received an advance uncorrected proof for review from the publisher. Disclosure: I do not generally read crime fiction, crime non-fiction, narrative non-fiction, but a publisher’s representative found me here on Goodreads and reached out to me, asking if I’d be interested in reading Jett’s book. I’d known of the murder, but nothing about it, and as I like to read books outside my comfort zone just to stretch the brain, I agreed. On a personal note, the book would have to be something I really did not want to read for me to turn down the offer. I don’t like to be rude to generosity.

When reading non-fiction, I tend to take a critical eye to how things are presented; something coming off, or stated explicitly, as fact needs to at least sound plausible/logical to me. I look for references, if not to actually check into them (which I do many times), then at least to know that they are there for verification…or to follow for more information. Because I do not read narrative/creative non-fiction, I had a hard time for the first third of the book: no references and some very conjectural scenes! I was marking in a few of the margins “How could he possibly know this?”, and comments similar. So much speculation! Especially for a nearly 60 year old incident!

But I was able to make the mental shift. And stop writing in those margins.

Jett writes a good story. The factual resources are numerous – trial transcripts, investigation notes, etc. – and the author said he was able to interview some of the participants, but memories are fickle and fade and change over time, too often morphing into the retold, remolded narratives from the country gathering places. And while I might still be bothered by speculation, Jett’s gap fillers were logical and consistent with what one might consider actually happened and did, as I noted above, make a good story. One observation: my copy had no photos and had no placeholders for any. I think given the temporal distance, they’d help set the background for the story.

Still, it’s a curiosity that for 48 years after the trial until his self-inflicted death, Corbett never seemed to have admitted to anyone that he was guilty of the crime for which he was convicted.

If you are a fan of the genre, familiar with the story, or just interested, you should enjoy this book. It’s quite good.

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