Deaths on pleasant street - The Ghastly Enigma of Colonel Swope and Doctor Hyde by Giles Fowler

May 25, 2011

     This true crime fiction genre book covers “the case of the century”.  In the year 1909 a prominent Kansas City family because the center of investigation of a mysterious cases of mass poisoning.  A wealthy Mr. Swope, who donated his land to the city for Swope park, and several members of his family, the Hydes, died under suspicions circumstances.  The prime suspect was a new member of the Swope-Hyde family, Doctor Bennett Clark Hyde.  He was accused of trying to poison the extended family of his wife Frances Swope, to gain fortune of Colonel Thomas Hunton Swope, one of the richest men in the Kansas city.  However, no positive proof was ever found to convict him.  The book is written in the style of investigative journalism, and is a compilation of newspaper articles, courtroom transcripts and personal memoirs of family members and medical staff.  Modern science is also brought to the picture to figure out what may have  happened.

     A fast paced and fascinating read for everyone wanting to learn about the history of Kansas City.  In early 1900s Kansas City, with its populations of 248,000 was a major metropolis. It was the 20th most populous city the in the United States and if merged with Kansas City Kansas, it would outnumber Los Angeles or Washington D. C.  The author mentions the rich architectural history of the city, the era of building boom by famous architects in the area of Quality Hill and along the Rockhill and Gillham road and the Independence area.   These glamorous mansions, once in a ritzy part of a town, are unfortunately long gone.

      This high profile case which in its time was followed closely by newspaper readers thoughout the whole country is worthwhile reading.

Reviewed by Library Staff