Coal Country Killing: A Culture, a Union, and the Murders That Changed It All

Highbridge Audio. Nov. 2023. 12:32 hrs. ISBN 9781696613309. $24.99. CRIME
A union leader, his wife, and his adult daughter are murdered in their beds, and their bodies are found six days later. Authors Tanenbaum (Without Fear or Favor) and journalist Jackson (No Stone Unturned) offer a grim tale of deception centered on United Mine Workers of America president Tony Boyle’s headline-making murder of Jock Yablonski and his family in 1969. The story begins with a measured start as listeners are introduced to the principal players and taken through the investigations that bring the culprits to justice. Occasionally, narrator Frank Block employs formulaic voices, but his presentation of the multiple points of view in this well-researched true account is valuable. As the case unfolds, listeners will be absorbed by the inexorable reveal of this small Pennsylvania coal-mining community’s secretive ways. Prosecuting attorney Richard A. Sprague’s dogged dedication to the murdered family’s surviving relatives is the glue that holds this story together, making for a compelling listen.
VERDICT A story of conspiracy and murder, providing intimate knowledge of each person involved and allowing listeners to understand how far people will go to preserve a community’s solidarity.
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