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Deaths on Pleasant Street: The Ghastly Enigma of Colonel Swope and Doctor Hyde
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Deaths on Pleasant Street: The Ghastly Enigma of Colonel Swope and Doctor Hyde

3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  149 ratings  ·  48 reviews
The 1909 murder case surrounding the wealthy Swope family of Independence, Missouri, gripped newspaper readers throughout the nation. This book gathers the facts behind the suspicious fates of three Swope family members: the eccentric Colonel, millionaire donor of Kansas City, Missouri's Swope Park, his affable cousin, and a young nephew and heir. The mystery pits the Swop ...more
ebook, 264 pages
Published December 1st 2010 by Truman State University Press (first published January 1st 2009)
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Lisa Nocita
Fascinating glimpse of Kansas City history from 1910. I was as much intrigued by the description of the town as by the intrigue surrounding the deaths or murders of a prominent family. If the deaths were in fact murder, then Dr. Hyde was certainly a maniacal, calculating madman with an ingenious scheme that could have profited him tremendously. And his wife was more than a pretty face teeming with wifely devotion and ardor. I cannot help but think that she must have acted in cohort with her husb ...more
This was a great book. It was so fascinating and my book club loved it. While we all agreed that he was guilty, I was out voted in my belief that Frances Hyde was duplicitous as well. I had a supporter or two but most of my club believed that she was just stupid and loyal. I am not sure. If she was such a good person, then why didn't she forgive her mother earlier. Anyway, that is just my opinion and it made for such a great discussion. Fowler really did a good job of presenting the case and the ...more
The writing was jarringly inconsistent. I expected an even tone from a journalist, not a plethora of overly descriptive adjectives. Oh, no! It's influencing my writing style!!! Less melodrama would have been better. A straight forward telling in terms of events would have made the story clearer. Interesting material, poorly presented.
Jun 08, 2013 Katherine rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mystery or true crime lovers
The Swope family in Independence, Missouri, was well-known. The grandfather, Colonel Swope, was a recluse philanthropist. He had given to many projects in Independence, including the land and money for a large park. The family was rich.
Frances Swope, his granddaughter, married Dr. Clark Hyde against her family's wishes, .
Colonel Swope's will designated that his money should be divided equally among his family. If one of them died, whatever was designated for him would be added to what the othe
A true crime book with victims and criminals that I only had a vague hint of - which is a rarity for this true crime nut!

In 1909, when Colonel Thomas Swope dies and then others in his family start falling sick, with some dying as well, suspicion falls on a family doctor who also happens to be the son-in-law of the Colonel's daughter-in-law. Dr. Bennett Clark Hyde is eventually accused of killing the Colonel with strychnine, a nephew with the same weapon, a niece who comes close to dying and almo
This is the story of the death of one of Kansas City's most generous benefactors, Colonel Swope. But it is not just the story of his death; there were several other Swope family members that met their demise, as well as a few more that were made violently ill. The common thread: Dr. Clark Hyde, the eldest Swope daughter's husband. He knew the old Colonel was about to change his will, essentially cutting Hyde's wife out of her share of the inheritance. Did Hyde do the unthinkable? Hmmmmm.... I li ...more
A very entertaining and easy to read account of the 1909 murder case surrounding the wealthy Swope family of Independence, Missouri. If you live in Kansas City, Missouri, you know of Swope Park and the many attractions that it contains. Colonel Thomas Swope was a multi-millionaire who donated the land for the park. In 1909, there were a series of mysterious deaths in the Swope mansion, including his own. The suspected cause of the deaths was Dr. Bennett Clark Hyde, the son-in-law of the Colonel' ...more
Jo Ann
This is the true story of a murder case, in 1909, in Independence, MO, involving the death of the milionaire donor of Kansas City's Swope Park, and members of his family. The case was "the trial of the century," in KC, and the author utilizes many newspaper accounts, court transcripts and testimonies, to depict what may have happened at the Swope mansion on Pleasant Street. Did Dr. Bennet Clark Hyde, the son-in-law of the mansion's matriarch, really stystematically kill 3 members of the family a ...more
Anna Francesca
This story fascinated me, and I found myself looking forward to reading more. I also went to the Kansas City Public Library's Missouri Valley Collection webpage to view places described. The photographs in the book also lent a visual side to imagining the happenings in 1909. While this was an extensively researched book, it read like a piece of good fiction. Readers form an opinion about who committed the murders from the start, but there is still suspense waiting to see how the jury will decide ...more
Interesting account of true story. Did he or didn't he murder his wife's relatives for money. Since moving to K for college, training here too and working in the KC many of the places and names are familiar to me. I liked this book.
Mary Aubuchon
A fascinating book written by a historian instead of a crime/mystery/thriller writer. You couldn't make up everything that happens in this book, and I am glad the writer didn't try to make some kind of an ending out of it.
I really enjoyed this book. I can't believe I've lived in KC most of my life and didn't know about the Swope murders. I didn't know my city had such scandal in its history!
Another "crime of the century" book. Since the century had only begun in 1909, this was slightly premature, but the crime is still fascinating. The son-in-law, Dr. Hyde, was charged with killing Colonel Swope and attempting to kill other members of his family in order to get Swope's fortune for himself. The bizarre crimes were particularly heinous, since they involved killing Swope with poison and then infecting other family members with typhoid. The nurses alerted the physician in charge and th ...more
A true crime story about a family that was fairly wealthy, lived in a huge old house ,but strange things began happening . First one person got ill, then died. The next one got the same type of illness, then also died ... it's always strange that some of these books like this, the person can do what they did for quite some time before two and two are put together and they are caught. Won't give away any more of the story, other than to say it was a good book , but predictable. One person gets gr ...more
Historical true crime story from 1909: the appropriately-named Dr. Hyde is accused of murdering his wife's rich elderly uncle and then infecting the rest of the extended family household with typhoid in order to increase his own inheritance. Fowler, who used to be a journalism professor at Iowa State, has recreated the scene as best he could from contemporary reports and primary sources. He spends a wee bit too much time commenting on the journalism of the day (those of us who are not journalist ...more
Steve Sullivan
True crime that reads like a cross between Agatha Christie and Stephen King. It's the story of a series of suspicious murders in Kansas City in the early 1900s. Involves the once prominent Snopes family, a classic dowager, a creepy doctor who may have cultivated nasty bacteria for nefarious purposes, a big rambling mansion, heroic nurses and an marvelously macabre autoposy on a frozen corpse. Beautifully written and wonderfully reported, anyone who loves a good murder story will find this hard t ...more
Though this book will have limited appeal, I enjoyed it. I learned a bit about the history of the Kansas City area. The author did an excellent job of presenting the strange happenings that occurred in the Swope Mansion in 1910. I only wish the mansion was still standing so I could see it. I usually don't read "true crime," but this one reads like a novel.
This is a really good book if you like mysteries. And, living near the site of this real-life drama, the local color is interesting. Col. Tom Swope, a KC philanthropist and real estate developer dies suddenly. Is it stroke or poisoning at the hand of his niece's husband whose motive is the family fortune? It's not possible to say for certain, but the author does a good job of laying out all the evidence. This is well researched and written.
K Christy
Very interesting view behind the well known name of Swope in Kansas City. Of much interest to me because I live in and love all things Kansas City. At times, as other reviewers have noted, the adjectives seemed a little "overdone" but all in all a fantastic read!
Rachel Brune
I am on a business trip to Kansas City and picked this up in the local bookstore. It was an entertaining read that gave a fast-moving description of not only the events of the crime, but also a peak into life in the turn of the century Midwest. It also details some of the challenges facing the criminal justice system before the dad of CSI, etc. All in all, an entertaining read.
My Dad wrote this book. And, obligations aside, I still really enjoyed it. In fact, due to a paucity of English language reading material in the region, a large number of teachers in an obscure corner of Southeast Asia read my pre-release copy, and damn if they didn't like it too.

I mean, I don't really read true crime ever, but hey, this was pretty good. Maybe I'll start?
Good non-fiction account of the mystery surrounding two elite families, of early 1900's Kansas City by a former journalist of Kansas City. Good example of how sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. I'm having a friend get this book autographed by Mr. Fowler, the author, since he is living in my home town of Ames, IA.
Mary Kay
Excellent true story about suspicious deaths in Independence, MO, in 1909. One of the victims was Charles Swope who bequeathed the land for Swope Park. Giles Fowler has done a meticulous job of sorting out all kinds of original information & has included helpful illustrations. Fascinating reading!
An interesting non-fiction book about murders of some members of a well known, wealthy family in Kansas City (Independence actually) at the turn of the century - early 1900s. True crime meets local history. (I probably wouldn't have loved this book as much if I didn't live in KC.) Overall good read.
A fascinating retelling of a century-old (murder?) mystery that I thoroughly enjoyed! It is based in my hometown and my dad has told me stories of going through the old mansion as a kid! The tale of the Swopes and Dr Hyde is still as mysterious and gripping today as it was 100 years ago!
Kim Meyers
I’m not much of a fan of non-fiction true crime, but this one piqued my interest because it happened in my hometown of Independence, Missouri. Clinical in presentation, but just long enough to hold interest and make you think about the non-conclusory conclusion of the case. A worthwhile read.
A really unusual read. I have never heard anything about this story before although I read alot of true crime novels. The book flowed incredibly well and I read it in one day because the story was so unbelievable and shocking, esp during the time period and location the crimes occurred.
Stacy Allison
I thought I would really enjoy this novel since it's about geography that I'm familiar with. Nope. It was disappointing. It took me way too long to read, and that's because I kept falling asleep while reading it. This novel almost ruined reading for me.
Malia Illing Hatley
I LOVED this book. I was completely sucked in from the beginning pages. It reminded me a bit of Devil in the White City. Similar creepy, smooth villian. A great read for anybody, but a must read for anyone in Kansas City.
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Deaths on Pleasant Street: The Ghastly Enigma of Colonel Swope and Doctor Hyde

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