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Murder in Little Egypt by Darcy O'Brien

Murder in Little Egypt (original 1989; edition 1988)

by Darcy O'Brien (Author)

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1205148,035 (3.86)6
Title:Murder in Little Egypt
Authors:Darcy O'Brien (Author)
Info:William Morrow & Co (1988), Edition: 1st, 340 pages
Collections:Books I've Read
Tags:non-fiction, true crime

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Murder in Little Egypt by Darcy O'Brien (1989)



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To his patients in the impoverished area of Southern Illinois known as Little Egypt, general practitioner Dale Canvaness could do no wrong. His employees and family, however, saw another side to him--alcoholic, abusive and completely lacking in empathy for others. When two of Canvaness's four sons were found shot to death in separate incidents, it was hard for the residents of Saline County, IL to believe that their trusted physician had anything to do with it. The evidence told another story.

Murder in Little Egypt is a frustrating read. Author Darcy O'Brien shares anecdote after anecdote describing Canvaness's mistreatment of those closest to him, yet the physician gets away with bad, even murderous, behavior time and again. Canvaness's second wife, who was one of O'Brien's informants for the book, is a particularly pathetic figure, always hoping against hope that her sociopathic husband would somehow change back into the fun-loving man she thought she had married.

Detailed and slow-paced, this book is recommended for the true-crime reader with a strong tolerance for human failings. ( )
  akblanchard | Oct 3, 2017 |
The unbelievable tale of a well-respected doctor by day and a familial tyrant by night. The town loved this man, but those who truly knew him, saw a much different man who actually killed two of his sons. (Read twice.) ( )
  creighley | Nov 26, 2016 |
An engrossing read about a selfish man who destroys his family and himself. ( )
  MCDyson | Mar 26, 2016 |
In December 1984 Dr. John Dale Cavaness was charged with the murder of his son Sean. The community was outraged and rose to his defense. What they didn’t know was that for years he had terrorized his family and his employees. He made disastrous financial investments and was a womanizer. No one spoke out because everyone was afraid of him.

Seven years earlier Cavaness’ first son was found dead of homicide in the woods of Little Egypt. That murder has never been officially solved but many believe Cavaness is responsible for it. This is the story of what happens when greed is greater than the love a man has for his children.

Meticulously researched and compelling written this is a fascinating account of the history of the area in Southern Illinois known as Little Egypt and the life of Dr. Cavaness and his family and how he was able to hide his predilections for power and money from almost everyone. I recommend this to true crime fans. ( )
  BellaFoxx | Feb 14, 2015 |
John Dale Cavaness was a beloved doctor in southern Illinois, in a poor area called Little Egypt. He oftened treated patients without requesting payment. To his family and co-workers Dr. Dale, as he was known, by his patients, was a tyrant, he took no interest in his wife and four sons, he threatened co-workers and forced them to sign forms saying treatment was received by patients who had never entered the office. Dr. Dale was particularly embarrassed and upset with his oldest son, Mark and his third son, Sean whom he felt lacked direction.
In 1986, Mark was found shot to death, near his truck. Six years later, Sean was found shot to death along a road. Investigators found shortly before Mark and Sean's deaths Dale had taken out insurance policies on both boys. Witnesses were able to place Dr. Dale with Sean just hours before he was shot.
Dale was convicted of the death of his son, Sean and sentenced to death. ( )
  dara85 | Jun 14, 2009 |
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Pap warn't in a good mood that moning--so he was his natural self.
--Huck Finn
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Southern Illinois, called Egypt by its natives, is that inverted triangle bounded by the Wabash, the Ohio and the Mississippi, bordered by Kentucky on the south and by an indeterminate line drawn east from St. Louis on the north.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0786710950, Paperback)

The unimaginable crime of filicide takes on the cast of tragic inevitability in this haunting true tale of violence, greed, revenge, and death. Fusing the narrative power of an award-winning novelist and the detailed research of an experienced investigator, Darcy O'Brien unfolds the story of Dr. John Dale Cavaness, the southern Illinois physician and surgeon who in December 1984 was charged with the murder of his son Sean. Outraged by the arrest of the skilled medical practitioner who selflessly attended to their needs, the people of Little Egypt rose to his defense. In the trial, however, a radically different, disquieting portrait of Dr. Cavaness would emerge. For throughout the three decades that he enjoyed the admiration and respect of his community, Cavaness was privately terrorizing his family, abusing his employees, and making disastrous financial investments as well as brawling and womanizing. What was not revealed in the trial, however, was that seven years earlier, in a homicide that had never been solved, the body of Cavaness's firstborn son, Mark, had been found shot dead in the woods of Little Egypt. In addition to a compelling chronicle that uncovers the truth behind two ghastly crimes and lays bare the Jekyll–Hyde psyche of their perpetrator, Murder in Little Egypt brings into stark midwestern light the hidden, gothic underside of an America bred on violence and bathed in blood. "Stunning material,"—Nobel Prize-winner Seamus Heaney "A meticulous account ... an implicit indictment of a culture that condones and encourages violent behavior in men."—The New York Times Book Review

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:59:16 -0400)

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"The true story of a filicide--a crime so shocking that its name is seldom heard"--Jacket subtitle.

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