Murder in Little Egypt
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Murder in Little Egypt

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  398 ratings  ·  26 reviews
The residents of Little Egypt, Illinois, admired Dr. John Dale Cavaness as a medical practitioner and a selfless humanitarian--not knowing he was also a brutal drunkard who murdered his two sons. Now, Darcy O'Brien presents a riveting portrait of this Jekyll and Hyde personality and the 1984 murder trial that shocked an entire state.
Paperback, 346 pages
Published February 6th 1990 by Onyx (first published 1988)
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Rebecca Martin
One of the best true crime books I've ever read. How did I never come across this book before? It was published in 1989 and I only found the title by happenstance recently while reading an essay on true crime and female readers by Laura Browder. The deep historical and cultural background of "Little Egypt" (southern Illinois) and the portrait of the incredibly insular atmosphere in which the story of a father's crimes against his family takes place are a real stand-out in this book. The story of...more
In December 1984 Dr. John Dale Cavaness was charged with the murder of his son Sean. The community was outraged and rose to his defense. What they didn’t know was that for years he had terrorized his family and his employees. He made disastrous financial investments and was a womanizer. No one spoke out because everyone was afraid of him.

Seven years earlier Cavaness’ first son was found dead of homicide in the woods of Little Egypt. That murder has never been officially solved but many believe C...more
This is a chilling true crime story that will horrify and perhaps leave you convinced that there are people walking amongst us, appearing to be completely normal, who are the embodiment of evil.
The story follows the life of a country physician, much beloved by his patients and community. His personal life however is punctuated by violence towards his family, alcohol abuse, shady financial dealings, and insurance fraud. He is very abusive to his wife and sons, and ultimately is charged with murde...more
K.A. Krisko
Dec 10, 2013 K.A. Krisko rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: true-crime fans
Well, I'm glad I went ahead with this one. I recently read (well, tried to read) another of O'Brien's, 'Dark and Bloody Ground', and was so bored I could not finish it. This one is much, much better. In fact, when I couldn't be reading it, I was thinking about reading it. It's detailed without bogging down, hits on all the necessary background of all the important characters, and finishes with a nice but not overly-technical run-down of the trial. One creepy thing is, Dale Cavaness reminds me to...more
♥ Marlene♥
Nearly finished. Wow what a treasure I discovered at one of my true crime books.
Very very well written.

Update: This is how to write a great true crime book. I do not understand why this author is not more famous although I did know him from a great book The Hillside Stranglers. Just learned he died in 1998 so no more books by this author. I still have to get a copy of The Power to Hurt.

I did not read the description of this book so I did not know what would happen. He kept me on my toes from pa...more
Maybe because I live in St. Louis, and know a bit about southern Missouri and Illinois, but I found this to be a very interesting and well written story. I vaguely remember reading the story in the Post Dispatch at the time.
I know the area where the second murder took place and the neighborhood where the boys lived at the time of the murder so I could visualize a lot of what was described in the book.
Kudos to the Author for his investigation into this Bazar event. It would probably make a good...more
I read this book because I'm from Southern Illinois and I wanted to learn more about some of the history of the area. It was well written...very interesting and sad. My only problem is that the book seems to depict all of Southern Illinois as violent and ignorant...and that is completely untrue!
This is a true story of a well respected Doctor in Southern Illinois. This area is known as "Little Egypt" due to the fact that its best known city is named Cairo. It was the location that this doctor was convicted of killing most of a family in a motor vehicle accident while he was drunk. Later his two sons were murdered seven years apart and the good doctor was ultimately convicted of their demise which was done for the insurance proceeds. His wife left him due to her continual beatings and th...more
The author's widow let me borrow this book, I'm so glad she did. It was a fast read. I love the way Mr. O'Brien writes! It shows you truly don't know a person. I can't wait to read more of his books. This is his second book I've read.
If there's anything that reading true crime will teach you, it's that monsters are real. They may come in the form of a charming, disarming serial killer who catches flies with honey. Or a seemingly unsolvable mystery in the media forces us to wonder what horrors could lay around each street corner. Perhaps a night of horror leads us to feel unsafe in our own homes, with our sweet sleeping families. What happens, then, when the monster comes from within - and fools everyone on the outside?

The la...more
This is a great read if you like true crime stories. I think the only other one I have read was Truman Capote's In Cold Blood. In my opinion, this was just as good. It really held my interest and I read it in one week. I got it for a very low price on my Kindle.

I won't go into the story since others have covered it here. It was a very tragic tale that had me stumped as to how a person could turn out to be so cold. I asked a therapist about it and she said those kind are made, not born. Somethin...more
This is true crime at the top of the genre. Dale Caveness is traced from his boyhood to the culmination of the book, from beloved physician to murderer--of his own children. An amazing tale of lack of normal feelings and conscience. Perhaps the most astounding of all is the refusal to believe his role in the murders by his supporters--NOT those who knew him best, but patients, and peripheral players in his life who thought they knew him. Those who knew him best believed it well enough, as is app...more
Taffey Champion
Dr. John Dale Cavaness is truly revealed in this unimaginable true story account as a heartless, cold-blooded monster. The ability to murder one's own children for insurance money shows that some souls' hearts can be as cold as ice.
Susan Sprouse
Non-fiction. Interesting, disturbing main character. New section of the country for me to learn about.
Riveting true crime story of an Illinois doctor who murdered two of his sons. I thought it was very interesting. When I finished the book, I had to google some of the family because I was curious as to how their lives turned out. I was disappointed to learn that his oldest surviving son Kevin, had died of cancer, and that Kevin's mother had also passed away last summer at age 85. It's heartbreaking to know what the family went through, especially when you consider how many of the townfolk rallie...more
This True Crime Novel was fascinating to me because the murderer in the book was my grandparent's family physician in the 70's. I remember visiting them in Eldorado, Ill. one year, and seeing the house that the doctor burnt down when trying to "do in" his family. I haven't been to Eldorado since 1991 for my grandmother's funeral, but I'd love to go back sometime to have a look around again.

This is a very well written true crime about a doctor from a place known as Litte Egypt in Illinois. The doctor murders two of his sons. I know its not a lot of folks cup of tea, but if you are a true crime buff then pick this one up!
Marcleitson Leitson
Was a bit disappointed. Other than the historical perspective of that particular geographic area if America was did not provide many insights other than there are people that are sociopaths
My sister & brother-in-law recently moved from Idaho to the area of Illinois where this [true:] story takes place. It was interesting to get a feel for the flavor and history of the area.
Martha Duckworth
I thought this was very interesting. It is set in a place where my family happens to be from and I know several of the places and people mentioned in the book.
wow....amazing story. I wouldn't say the WRITING itself was the best. But the story will blow you away. once you start, it's hard to stop.
This book was interesting, but I think only if you are familar with the region the doctor is from, and the people in it.
Very well written..loved the details and how Darcy went into the mindset of the doctor. Very good.
Vicki White
I read this book because I had vacationed in this area and was curious. Very sad.
An engrossing account of a very cold, calculating man who destroyed his own family.
It is amazing how people can be so blind.
Bernadette Carrillo
Bernadette Carrillo marked it as to-read
Aug 19, 2014
Neem marked it as to-read
Aug 18, 2014
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Darcy O'Brien was born in Los Angeles, the son of Hollywood silent film actor George O’Brien and actress Marguerite Churchill.

O'Brien attended Princeton University and University of Cambridge, and received a master's degree and doctorate from the University of California, Berkely. From 1965 to 1978 he was a professor of English at Pomona College. In 1978 he moved to Tulsa, and taught at the Unives...more
More about Darcy O'Brien...
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