A Lovely Girl: The Tragedy of Olga Duncan and the Trial of One of California’s Most Notorious Killers

Pegasus Crime. Oct. 2022. 304p. ISBN 9781639362448. $29.95. CRIME
In this debut, Larkin, an elementary school principal, tells the story of the murder of Olga Duncan and how her death rocked her California suburb. A unique feature of this narrative is that the author was 10 years old at the time of the murder and is able to reconstruct the story based on her memories, community interviews, and the articles her journalist father wrote while covering the trial for the local paper. This true crime story centers around Olga, a pregnant nurse who disappeared in 1958 and was later found beaten to death and buried. Olga’s mother-in-law became a primary suspect due to her efforts to separate Olga and her son, Frank, including hiring hit men. Frank, a defense attorney, insisted upon his mother’s innocence, and through the dogged efforts of a new district attorney, the mother-in-law was tried, convicted, and ultimately became the last woman ever executed in the state of California.
VERDICT Readers will be drawn to Larkin’s first-person narrative of the events as well as her reconstruction of this tragic true-crime story.
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