Smooth Talker: Trail of Death

Smooth Talker: Trail of Death

by Steve Jackson

Paperback

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Overview

One morning in July 1974, Anita Andrews, the owner and bartender at Fagiani’s Cocktail Lounge in Napa, California was found dead in her bar–raped, beaten, and stabbed to death in a bloody frenzy. She’d last been seen alive the night before talking to a drifter who sat at the end of the bar, playing cards and flirting with her. But the stranger, along with Anita’s Cadillac, had disappeared. Unable to locate a suspect, police investigators sadly watched the case grow cold over the years.


Meanwhile a month after Anita’s murder, young Michele Wallace, was driving down a road in the mountains near Crested Butte, Colorado, when she gave two stranded motorists, Chuck Matthews and a man named Roy, a ride. Dropping Matthews off at a bar in Gunnison, she agreed to take “Roy” to his truck. She was never seen alive again, nor could a massive search of the mountains locate her remains. The trail leading to her killer also ran into deadends.


Fourteen years later, Charlotte Sauerwin, engaged to be married, met a smooth-talking man at a Laundromat in Livingston Parish, Louisiana. The next evening, her body was found in the woods; she’d been raped, tortured, and her throat slashed. The police suspected her fiance, Vince LeJeune, though he proclaimed his innocence to anyone who would listen. Meanwhile, the man from the Laundromat couldn’t be located.


The three murders would remain unsolved, eating at the hearts, minds and lives of the women’s families, friends and communities. Then in the early 1990s, a rookie Gunnison County sheriff’s investigator named Kathy Young began looking into the Wallace case and identified a suspect named Roy Melanson, a serial rapist from Texas. SMOOTH TALKER is the story of Melanson, his depredations, and the intrepid police work that went into bringing him to justice.


I originally wrote about the Michele Wallace case in 2002 as part of my book NO STONE UNTURNED: The True Story of the World’s Premier Forensic Investigators. The book detailed the history and best cases of NecroSearch International, a renowned group of scientists and law enforcement investigators who pool their knowledge and experience to locate the clandestine graves and remains of murder victims. Their first real success was locating the remains of Michele Wallace in 1994. However, at the time the book came out, no one knew about the true extent of Roy Melanson’s horrific rampage or the connection between the Wallace case and the murders of Andrews and Sauerwin. It’s all pieced together in SMOOTH TALKER: Trail of Death, in which the readers get two fascinating cold case murder investigations in a story filled with brutality, grief, forensic science at its finest, and exemplary police work.


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781942266433
Publisher: SceneBooks Inc.
Publication date: 04/07/2016
Pages: 188
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Best-selling and award-winning author and journalist Steve Jackson has written nine non-fiction books in true crime, history and biography genres; he has also written a dozen crime fiction thrillers for the "Butch Karp Series" in collaboration with former New York assistant district attorney Robert K. Tanenbaum.

In August 2014, he and a partner, Michael Cordova, launched a publishing company, WildBluePress.com, which as of Spring 2015 has a half-dozen best-selling and award-winning authors publishing true crime and crime fiction books. The company is rapidly expanding both the number of authors and number of titles, and will be moving into other genres in the Summer 2015.

In April 2014, WildBlue Press released an updated version of Jackson's true crime classic NO STONE UNTURNED for the first time in eBook and audiobook. His first book for WildBlue Press was the bestselling BOGEYMAN, which was published in August 2014.

His first non-fiction book, MONSTER, a true crime, was published in October 1998 and within two weeks became a NYTimes bestseller. In 2003, his World War II dramatic narrative, LUCKY LADY, received The Colorado Book Award, best biography/history, from the Colorado Center for the Book; Lucky Lady was also the runner-up that year for the Admiral Samuel Morrison Naval History Award.

In June 2013, Jackson joined forensic investigative team NecroSearch International, the group featured in NO STONE UNTURNED, searching for the remains of the Grand Duke Mikhail Romanov in Perm, Russia as part of his research for an upcoming dramatic history FINDING ANASTASIA. He and the team will return to Russia to continue the search in June 2015.

Born in Bethesda Naval Hospital in 1955, Jackson grew up in Hawaii and Colorado. He graduated in 1979 from Colorado State University with a BA in Journalism. A newspaper journalist for 25 years, he worked in locales as varied as Montana, Hawaii, Guam, Micronesia, Indonesia, Indiana, Washington D.C., Florida, Oregon and Colorado. During his career with newspapers, he received numerous national and regional awards for feature writing and investigative reporting.

He lives and works in the mountains of Colorado. Outside of writing, his interests include backpacking, fly fishing, skiing, guitar, reading, softball, music, wine, beer and spending time with his family and friends.

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