William Van Meter, one of my favorite, most brilliant-with-language, clear-of-thought, funniest, sharpest, honest, and most charming friends has written a great true crime book -- I was lucky enough to read the galley a few months ago and it's a real page-turner. It's on bookstore shelves tomorrow.
"Five feet two in heels and without a bad word to say about anyone, Katie Autry was sweet, kind, and utterly naïve. She was making the clumsy strides of a newborn colt, discovering what the world was like and learning to be her own person. And on the morning of May 4, 2003, Katie Autry was raped, stabbed, sprayed with hairspray, and set on fire in her own dormitory room.
In telling the true story of this shocking crime, Bluegrass describes the devastation of not one but three families. Two young men, whose lives seem preordained to intertwine, are jailed for the crime: DNA evidence places Stephen Soules, an unemployed, mixed-race high school dropout, atthe scene, and Lucas Goodrum, a twenty-one-year-old pot dealer with an ex-wife, a girlfriend still in high school, and an inauspicious history of domestic abuse, is held by an ever-changing confession. The friends of the suspects and the foster and birth families of the victim form complex and warring social nets that are cast across town. And a small southern community, populated by eccentrics of every socioeconomic class, from dirt-poor to millionaire, responds to the horror. Like Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, this tale is redolent with atmosphere, dark tension, and lush landscapes.
With the keen eye of a talented young journalist returning to his southern roots, Van Meter paints a vivid portrait of the town, the characters who fill it, and the simmering class conflicts that made an injustice like this not only possible, but inevitable."