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Judgment Ridge: The True Story Behind the Dartmouth Murders
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Judgment Ridge: The True Story Behind the Dartmouth Murders

3.83  ·  Rating Details ·  555 Ratings  ·  86 Reviews
On a cold night in January 2001, the idyllic community of Dartmouth College was shattered by the discovery that two professors had been hacked to death in their own home. Investigators searched helplessly for clues linking the victims, Half and Susanne Zantop, to their murderer or murderers. The residents of Hanover, New Hampshire, speculated endlessly -- could the killer ...more
Hardcover, 432 pages
Published September 16th 2003 by HarperCollins (first published September 1st 2003)
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Earl Solper
Aug 13, 2011 Earl Solper rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Women who marry death-row inmates
Shelves: ★★
So much useless detail. Do I need to know that little Jimmy Parker's 4th grade substitute teacher allowed him to stand on his desk? Is it important that "escargot with soft polenta and beurre rogue" cost $7.75 at the Hanover Inn? Is it important that the movie Diane and Mike watch as the troopers search their house is "Air Force One", which, the authors helpfully point out, stars "Harrison Ford playing the president during a terrorist hijacking"?

Next, the redundancies. The books shifts through t
Lance Gideon
May 15, 2013 Lance Gideon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I understand why some have given this offering a lesser rating due to its heavy (and as they say, seemingly useless) detail, as I also found myself getting a little distracted during such sections of the book; however, I found that these "useless" details were essential in telling the whole story, and made the read that much richer. To come to a true understanding of the depth of this account, and why it truly shocked so many, one needs to be exposed to the intricacies of life in Chelsea and Han ...more
May 23, 2013 Dawna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As far as true crime books goes, Judgement Ridge is one of the best I have read in a very long time. The book is so detailed, you almost feel as though you are a member of the small community of Chelsea. Having lived very close to Hanover, NH and spent a lot of time at Dartmouth, I can picture these areas in great detail. But the way the writer writes about these places, he is able to transport anyone to the beautiful green mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire. He also is able to show the live ...more
Jun 13, 2013 Barb rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Blrgggg... Sounded like an interesting real life crime. I really liked In Cold Blood . This was SO not that. The writing was atrocious. If I received a paper written like this from my students, esp when it was NOT the first draft, I would FAIL it. Run the other way. Read another book. Read any other book. Find an article that sums up the story of the murders and be done with it.
May 02, 2011 Karen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Although somewhat captivating, I found there was too much filler in this book. There were detailed examples of police terms, background information on insignificant characters and opinions from random townspeople.
Nov 28, 2013 Lobstergirl rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Jang Song-thaek

This is a chilling portrayal of teenagers turned evil. 17-year-old Robert Tulloch, whom the authors persuasively argue was a psychopath, was best friends with 16-year-old Jim Parker in the tiny town of Chelsea, Vermont. The two friends thought of themselves as intellectually brilliant, far smarter than everyone around them. (This was in fact belied by their high school grades, B's and B minuses, their numerous misspellings and grammatical errors in notes and emails the authors viewed, their subp
♥ Marlene♥
Just finished it and I am so glad it is over! Over is the constant talk about the smallest things.

Over is the constant talk that poor little innocent Jim was a victim of the mean nasty Robert.

Sorry I do not buy it for a second. Jim was the actor and Jim was the only one who told the story so it is so easy to say yes Roger made me do it.
This author fell for it hook line and sinker.

I did like the first half of the book although I did think there was way too much filler but because I was interested
Jun 10, 2013 R_ rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bio, crime
I suppose reading In Cold Blood spoiled me. In this genre, it's hard for any author to live up to that one. Apart from any fault in the writing, I think the problem with this book stemmed from the subject matter -- idiotic motives of the two teenage killers, Tulloch & Parker. Randomness...banality...teen angst. These guys were such boring morons that it was probably hard for the author to create a lot "complexity" to this book. They were so absolutely guilty that even they realized that goin ...more
May 24, 2013 Carrie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
I liked this book overall. It was an interesting story with some interesting characters. It was, however, a little too long. As true crime books go, this one wasn't that thrilling. There was too much background information that didn't really seem to add much to the story. As an example, the authors went into a great deal of detail about Robert Tulloch and Jim Parker's high school exploits, which, beyond helping us understand why investigators were initially reticent to believe two high school ki ...more
Mar 06, 2014 Menus67 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like true stories, murder mystery (even though this is true)
Because I mostly buy books on my nook, sometimes I don't read all the fine details before purchasing. That was the case with this one.
I did not catch "The True Story Behind the Darmouth Murders" subtitle. When I began reading I was disappointed that it wasn't written
more story like. Then I figured out that it was a TRUE story and I wanted to start it over again! I read whole thing and was amazed and stunned by
the attitudes and behaviors of the boys accused and what they did.
What a scary time
Peggy Jeffcoat
Jul 22, 2011 Peggy Jeffcoat rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a true story behind the Dartmouth murders in 2001. Two teenagers murdered a couple of Dartmouth professors in their home. The telling of the story reminds me of Truman Capote's In Cold Blood. It deals with the days and weeks leading up to the murders, the capture of the boys and their sentences. Very well written...probably a 4+
Jan 04, 2015 Rachel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Meticulously researched and fairly and objectively told. A very comprehensive look at the causes and effects of this horrible crime. A great read for anyone interested in crime and the psychology of violent criminals.
Jan 18, 2016 SouthWestZippy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
VERY good book. Well written and well rounded reporting on the murder of two College professors in a small town. In the minds of what seemed to be two normal boys was a
murderer and a follower. Their violent acts left a town forced to deal with the aftermath and their new normal.
Dylan Gould
Oct 29, 2015 Dylan Gould rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
It's always weird reading an outsider's perspective to a real life experience. While it's bound to be weird, I wish the writing had been better.
Courtney Barenbrugge
If you like true crime books, I strongly recommend.
Christian Smith
Jan 11, 2017 Christian Smith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dick Lehr does an excellent job detailing the horrific event that happened on the cold winter's night in Hanover, NH. Not only does Lehr focus on the one notable event but those that lead up to it and how each killer's childhood affected them. The history and psychology of the killers grabs the readers attention and helps them delve into the darkest depths of mankind. While although it is a long read, "Judgment Ridge" educates readers on every page and leaves readers speechless.
Amy Beyrle
Very hard to get into. The first half was choppy and I didn't love the writing style. The second half became easier to read but overall not my favorite book.
Hated it. Too much info, not enough insight.
May 16, 2011 Judy rated it liked it
Most murders I read about don't seem close to home but this one was chilling in that the murderers were two high school aged boys living in a Vermont town next to my sister and in an area I'm quite familiar with. Their escapades started with breaking into empty homes to raid the refrig and then one night deciding they would commit a murder at random, even digging the graves beforehand. The would be victims were a New York man and his son on a getaway weekend to their Vermont cabin. Luckily, the ...more
Sep 07, 2015 Annie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Growing up in New Hampshire and spending time in Vermont, I was very aware of this case and recall the almost constant news coverage that went on for weeks covering this case. That being said, I didn't really know many of the particulars and this book certainly digs deep. The reviews compare it to In Cold Blood and indeed I can see that the authors attempted to model the pace, atmosphere and seeming lack of motive that Capote artfully captured. However, I felt that they spent too much time talki ...more
Nov 15, 2016 Lois rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Was acquainted with the family and Robert and have always wondered why the neurological differences in the Tulloch family have never been looked at as a piece of this tragedy. I found this book chilling and the interpretation believable. We lived two towns away from Chelsea and I found my own children's development influenced by the insular meanness which seemed to go hand in hand with the jocular, woodsy conservatism of the locals. So. . the mixture of culture ( you are not one of us, there is ...more
Judi Middleton
Aug 18, 2016 Judi Middleton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Such a well-told story...

I read quite a bit of true -crime literature. There are several things I, personally don't care for. One is when the author goes into a lot of non-essential descriptive details about such things as the geographies or history of the location of the crime. Next, I am not fond of the crime/murder being the immediate opening of the book. I prefer getting to know the characters and how the crime comes about before the onslaught. Lastly, I do not like lengthy pages covering th
Apr 23, 2014 Gayle rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author certainly goes into depth with attempting to give the reader enough background information about the lives of these two high school students turn killers. Was Jim really in Robert's web? Where was the reality check for these boys? How could they really do this? The author answers this by establishing Robert as a psychopath, and Jim as Robert's tool (for lack of a better word).

I read this book with the hope of gaining some insight into what happened along the way with these two high sc
Anna Engel
The public's fascination with death, mystery, drama, and a manhunt was spawn ages ago, and honed to perfection in "In Cold Blood." And, in the grand tradition of "In Cold Blood," "Judgment Ridge" follows the lives, crimes, capture, and sentencing of two young men who committed senseless murders. Like so many other similar books, the authors get bogged down in the minutia of the boys' lives: grades, high school essays, basketball games, forts built in the woods, etc. "Judgment Ridge" tries really ...more
Oct 20, 2013 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
One giant, tragic, gray cloud with barely a trace of a silver lining (i.e. the resilience of a small community, the beauty of the two victims' interesting and rich lives). The book is thoroughly researched, arguably to a fault. Bogged down in excruciating and very often unnecessary detail, sometimes repeated. The authors did their homework and seem overly eager to prove that to the reader. Their efforts for extra credit actually count against them. That being said, there is surely no account of ...more
Michelle Hite
Aug 09, 2016 Michelle Hite rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book examines the killing of two Dartmouth professors by two teens from a nearby town in Vermont. I have long since stopped opening my door to strangers and this book supports the wisdom of my decision.

In the context of #BlackLivesMatter, it was striking to read about police incredulity regarding the guilt of the boys. They were so convinced that the pair couldn't have done it that the boys were never under surveillance and thus allowed to take flight. It's hard to imagine this being the c
Kathleen Perkins

judgement Ridge is the best psychological analysis of a senseless murder since In Cold Blood. What circumstances lead to such damaged individuals is the question. Lehrer answers the questions by meticulous research and presentation of facts and educated opinion with no hyperbole or sensationalism and that is what makes this book so educational for those interested in the mental processes of psychopaths and their ability to mimic normalcy; leaving trails of victims in their wake.
Stella Fouts
Jun 16, 2013 Stella Fouts rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
With their book Judgment Ridge: The True Story Behind the Dartmouth Murders, authors Mitchell Zuckoff and Dick Lehr expand the picture of the tragic and senseless murder of two beloved professors. We see in these added details that murdering Half and Susanne Zantop was never really about robbing them. The account of how the Antops became targets is chilling in its simplicity. And if it happened to them, we know it could just as easily happen to us. There are evil people in this world, and we can ...more
Rachel Cieplucha
Oct 29, 2014 Rachel Cieplucha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While I can see why some people think it's wordy and has too much information, I really enjoyed learning about the two main characters. It sort of helped me build who I thought they were in real life to light. I live in NH so it was very interesting to read about the different prisons and prosecutors that I already have heard of and know about. I thought it was an easy read and for .50¢ at goodwill I couldn't pass it up!
Sep 30, 2013 Paula rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was an exceptionally-written book; particularly for the true crime genre. In many cases, true crime books are short, and we don't tend to come out of the book knowing or understanding the characters.
In the case of this book, the author takes the time to familiarize us with all the people involved, and even the town is painted so vividly in words, that it seems like a character as well. A great book describing a tragic situation.
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Dick Lehr is a professor of journalism at Boston University. From 1985 to 2003, he was a reporter at the Boston Globe, where he was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in investigative reporting and won numerous regional and national journalism awards. He served as the Globe's legal affairs reporter, magazine and feature writer, and as a longtime member of the newspaper's investigative reporting unit, the S ...more
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