I am probably one of many who picked this up after it was name-checked during My Favorite Murder’s discussion of the Texas Yogurt Shop Murders, and I found it to be incredibly informative, not just concerning the crimes, but also the factors that have made it so notorious, and so hard to solve. Beverly Lowry’s detailed account explores the facts of the horrifying crime, from the girls’ lives and families, the landscape of Austin before and after, through the decades long investigation. But it isn’t a clinical point for point account, effectively weaving in interviews with one of the lead detectives on the case, and other perspectives on the impact that unexplained violence can leave.
The harrowing subject matter makes this a little hard to review in a traditional sense. The profiles of each of the girls is suitably detailed, giving as much of a rounded view as possible of the lives cut short and the people lost in this crime. The facts of the case and the
The book spends a good chunk of time recounting the arrest, conviction, and eventual release on appeal of a group of teenage suspects. Spending so much time on suspects that we know will be released when DNA is finally tested feels like a big sidetrack. The case of their false confessions and overturned convictions is a very compelling story in itself, but doesn’t do much to answer the central question at hand, and it feels like we drop the thread of the investigation for their story. (Which I suppose is ultimately appropriate considering the investigation was dropped in a way.)
Nothing really does answer the central question, and while the gruesome facts of what physically occurred can be sussed out from the evidence, the actual identity of the killer isn’t any clearer. The lasting effects of the crime on the people closest to it are, and the human elements of the story are a big part of what makes the book so compelling.