The haunting true story of a triple murder in the Ozarks, two lovers on the lam, and a death-row inmate saved by the pope.
On a spring day more than ten years ago, sixty-nine-year-old Lloyd Lawrence was gunned down in rural Missouri. The shooter also turned his twelve-gauge shotgun on Lawrence's wife and their paraplegic grandson. The crime took place in a region known mostly for Pentecostal fervor, country music, and family-friendly tourism. But soon the murders would expose a dark underbelly in the Ozarks: Lloyd Lawrence was a notoriously violent crystal-meth kingpin, killed by an aspiring drug dealer named Darrell Mease.Capturing the raw circumstances that took Mease from his clean-cut youth to the front lines of Vietnam and an aftermath of drug use, Almost Midnight unites an unforgettable range of characters in some of America's most peculiar locales. When Mease and his girlfriend fled to the Southwest on a hair-raising road trip, this only brought Mease closer to death row. After his conviction, he claimed to receive a religious revelation guaranteeing that his life would be saved by miraculous intervention, a long-shot prediction that came true. A bizarre twist of fate brought Pope John Paul II to Saint Louis, where he pleaded with Missouri Governor Mel Carnahan to commute the sentence just months before Carnahan's fatal plane crash. In a triumph of investigative journalism, Michael Cuneo gained unprecedented access to Mease and immersed himself in the culture of the Ozarks, exploring its bucolic farms and seedy strip joints, and the lives of its preachers, cockfighters, and outlaws. By turns chilling and riveting, Almost Midnight brilliantly evokes the life of controversial renegade Mease, and the stranger-than-fiction world he still inhabits.
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February 08, 2012
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