Snake Eyes: Murder in a Southern Town

Prometheus. Mar. 2022. 216p. ISBN 9781633887763. $25.95. CRIME
Martin never forgot her junior high friend Cathie Ward, whose death in Hot Springs, AR, in 1966 was at first called an accident and later a murder; this book is Martin’s ultimately failed attempt to revive Ward’s story and flesh out the life of multiple murderer Frank Davis. Davis is described as a ne’er-do-well and ranch operator who allegedly murdered his estranged wife Sharron in 1967, in front of their sons. While investigating Sharron’s murder, police discovered hidden documents that led them to charge Davis with Cathie Ward’s earlier death. Police now alleged foul play, though Davis claimed that Ward, who on the day she died went riding at his ranch, had been killed when her foot got caught in a stirrup. But in the end, police dropped the charges against Davis for Ward’s murder, and he ultimately served 17 years for only the murder of Sharron Davis. For this book, Martin interviewed many people directly involved in these cases, but she fails to follow up on some of the claims made in passing (like that Davis might have murdered a young Black boy to cover up the Ward death), and the book often reads like list of facts instead of a complete narrative.
VERDICT Cathie Ward’s death clearly affected a generation of children from Hot Springs, but Martin’s work offers no unique angle to the true crime genre. Not recommended.
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