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Swift Justice: Murder & Vengeance In A California Town
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Swift Justice: Murder & Vengeance In A California Town

4.16 of 5 stars 4.16  ·  rating details  ·  83 ratings  ·  17 reviews
In 1933, a nightmare shook the quiet town of San Jose, California, when a young man named Brooke Hart was abducted while leaving his father's department store. In the days that followed, the Harts, local and state police, and J. Edgar Hoover's FBI scrambled to outwit the kidnappers, whose demands kept them at bay until they--and Brook Hart's murder--were at last discovered ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published December 15th 1992 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published March 1st 1992)
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Kim Ulmanis
It has actually been awhile since I read this book but being from San Jose the story has been lodged in my mind for years. Although a tragic story, I enjoyed the way Farrell wrote about the kidnapping and murder from beginning to end. Some of the photos are somewhat graphic in nature but it helps the reader to understand the full effect of what happened to both Brooke and his murderers. It's definitely a must read if you're into true crime and history.
This book came highly recommended by my Grampy and he even let me borrow his copy. It is a local reporter's findings about a kidnapping / murder that took place in San Jose, CA (where we live) in the 1930s and the author/reporter's investigation took place in the 1980s. It was so neat to read about places and streets that I actually know and have been to or walked on. The young man who was kidnapped even attended the same university I did. The reason I enjoyed the book so much was definitely bec ...more
Stephanie Griffin
The story of the Brooke Hart kidnapping and murder in 1933 was the sensation of not only San Jose, California, but of the entire country at a time when kidnapping for ransom was becoming the crime of choice among brazen criminals. This book was written in 1992, but as far as I know, there isn’t another book which so thoroughly examines this case.
Brooke Hart was a 22-year-old who had just been made vice-president of the department store his father owned in downtown San Jose. He was abducted and t
Therese Wiese
Account of the 1933 lynching of the two men accused of kidnaping and killing Brooke Hart heir to Harts Department Store in San Jose. Written by Harry Farrell who wrote for the local San Jose paper - the Mercury News. If you have an interest in San Jose (CA) history, this book is a "must read". Did they do it? Who knows!
Excellent true-crime book detailing the kidnapping/murder of Brooke Hart, heir to the Hart's Department Store chain in San Jose, California. Hart's kidnapping occurred just months after the famous "Lindberg baby" kidnapping and Farrell points out that in the 1930's kidnapping wealthy citizens was viewed as an easy way to make money in the depths of the Great Depression. Hart's kidnappers bungled their chance at collecting anything when they killed Brooke and tossed his body into San Francisco Ba ...more
I read this years ago. It was very interesting as a local history story.
Donna Stuedeman
It's probably not fair to say I "read" this book. It's better to say I skimmed it and very much enjoyed the history lesson. I'm not one for non-fiction, but since I lived and went to school right where this happened, it was fun to picture the area as I read.
Peter Clarke
i great non-fiction story on a piece of San Jose history. The focus is the kidnapping and ultimate death of a local department store heir. The author was a local newspaper reporter and he describes the subsequent arrest of the 2 perpetrators and their imprisonment in the local jail. The news of their arrest was well known and the jail was stormed by a bunch of vigilantes who pulled the criminals into a local park and lynched them.
Tricia Lawrence
A gripping true story of the Brooke Hart kidnapping in San Jose in the 30's and subsequent lynching of the perpetrators, published in 1992. Very well researched and written, particularly fascinating as a crime in my local area. A fascinating, emotional and terrifying chain of events with great insight by the author made a very compelling read.
Nancy L.
One of the best true crime books ever. Department store heir Brooke Hart was kidnapped and murdered in 1933. The subsequent lynching of his murderers, Harold Thurmond and John Holmes (the last public lynching in California), is a case study of Depression-era San Jose. Outstanding book by a long-time reporter for the S.J. Murky News.
A very impressive book. Farrell's writing style is gripping. This book is very well researched. The details are incredible. He documents the names of a lot of the people involved, as well as times, dates, and places. I'd find it hard to believe there are many errors in Farrell's facts and his insights are persuasive.
A great story about the last lynching in California. It took place in the park in San Jose and I'm almost certain my grandparents were in that mob. I wish they were still alive so I could ask them. Highly recommended. I read it for a book club.
Extremely well-written and researched account of the kidnapping and murder of Brooke Hart as well as the subsequent lynching of the perpetrators, which took place in San Jose in 1933, two blocks from my current residence.
It was good for people who have some connection to the town/events. I enjoyed it and passed it on to a cousin who lived in San Jose and knew the story.
This should be essential reading for anyone interested in Bay Area history . Lynch law does not confine itself to any one area of the country
Creepy reading about my hometown area, awesome to learn the history.
Must read if you call yourself a native of San Jose.
Jenn M
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Shallow Grave in Trinity County San Jose, And Other Famous Places

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“San Jose is made up of the finest citizens of any city in the entire United States- peace loving, quiet, cultured people. ... God-fearing, law-observing, good citizens have been watching these murders increasing and have watched crime increase in this country and from the time this splendid young fellow [Brooke Hart] was murdered this vigilance committee had in mind carrying out what in their minds was real justice...” 1 likes
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