Crime dramas are fairly popular on television. Shows like CSI, Law & Order, NCIS, and Sherlock take viewers through fictional mysteries of murders, bank heists, and elaborate schemes and by the end of nearly every episode show how it was all done. It should come as little surprise to my listeners then, that true crime novels are popular, and the library has quite a selection in the non-fiction section.
Well, I have a new addition for you. Love and Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere is a rather more poetic piece of real-life drama. Penned by essayist and novelist Poe Ballantine, Love and Terror is part memoir and part sensationalized real-life account of an unsolved death in Ballantine’s adopted hometown of Chadron, Nebraska.
Ballantine, a drifter by nature, first moved to Chadron in 1994. Itchy feet took over after about a year, and Ballantine drifted south, eventually into Mexico where he met a younger Mexican woman who wanted to improve her English. In 2001 the two moved back to the place Ballantine felt most at home: Chadron, Nebraska. Ballantine married his Mexican sweetheart and finally settled in Chadron, a son coming along in a few years.
Finally, about a quarter into this memoir slash true crime, the action begins: a young math professor at the local community college goes missing in 2006. Three months later the professor’s burned body is found tied to a tree on a forested hill behind the college campus. The police are stumped, and Ballantine begins a six-year examination. This is the easy part; in a town as small as Chadron Ballantine knows everyone involved.
As for the conclusion to this mystery, I recommend you check out the book to find out! It is a quick read – each chapter is less than five pages long, covering short scenes in the baffling case and chronicling the everyday lives of the residents.
You can get more great titles to watch, read, listen to, or play with at the Port Library at 1718 N. Hersey in Beloit, on the North Campus. This is director Rachel Malay, saying “Thanks for checking us out!"
Love and Terror on the Howling Plains to Nowhere by Poe Ballantine
ISBN: 9780983477549, 282 pages
Adult non fiction - memoirs