Zero at the Bone: The Playboy, the Prostitute, and the Murder of Bobby Greenlease
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Zero at the Bone: The Playboy, the Prostitute, and the Murder of Bobby Greenlease

3.08 of 5 stars 3.08  ·  rating details  ·  114 ratings  ·  25 reviews
In 1953, six-year-old Bobby Greenlease, the son of a wealthy Kansas City automobile dealer and his wife, was kidnapped from his Roman Catholic elementary school by a woman named Bonnie Heady, a well-scrubbed prostitute who was posing as one of his distant aunts. Her accomplice, Carl Austin Hall, a former playboy who had run through his inheritance and was just out of the M...more
ebook, 240 pages
Published July 21st 2009 by St. Martin's Press
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Anne Hawn Smith
I thought this book was the most complete of all the books I've read. At the time Bobby Greenlease was murdered, I was a 9 year old kid in a Catholic school in St. Louis just like Bobby, and I thought I might get kidnapped also:>) My father worked for the FBI and he worked long hours on this case.

Most books don't report the second half of this story, the disappearance of a portion of the ransom money and the suspicions surrounding Lou Shoulders who was the Sheriff at the time.

Other reviewers...more
Brooke
Quick read, compelling simply due to the nature of the crime. But where was the insight? The telling of this story was absolutely bloodless. I was left with little more than facts and no insight. The author of this book states boldly (in the afterword) that as a child his father took him on a search for the ransom, and I felt that the ransom still held sway in his mind throughout the book. He cared far more about the money trail than he did the characters.

I wanted background. The author sums up...more
Margaret Sankey
This is like the perfect storm of stupid criminal behavior, made tragic in that it caused the death of a child. In 1953, having run through his family's money, Carl Hall and his alcoholic hooker girlfriend kidnapped (and immediately murdered) the six year old son of St. Louis' biggest car dealer. Although the family promptly paid the ransom, Bobby was dead, and the dimwit duo attempted to spin out their plot by involving other stupid people (hiring their own personal taxi driver for 24/7 service...more
Shawna
The “good old days” were never really all that good. This case fell the same year as the Rosenbergs’ execution and five years before the infamous “In Cold Blood” murders. I was interested in this case – which I wager is largely forgotten today, because it happened partially in St. Louis, where my family is from, and my great grandmother had actually cut out articles from the paper about the case and saved them. This book was clearly painstaking researched – but that level of minute detail might...more
Kathleen
I'm not sure how the author managed to make this tale of kidnapping and murder boring. He included everything in excruciating detail. A few of these details, as it turns out, would be crucial to the story later. But just a few. If you can slog your way through the first half, the rest is less dull. Personally, I read this as fast as I could hoping that it would get better, then just to finish the thing when it didn't.
Catherine Woodman
I readily admit that non-fiction is not a genre that I read widely or deeply, so take my opinion with a grain of sale, but I thought this was less than wonderful--it is the retelling of a kidnapping by two really incompetent people, who miraculously pull off nabbing the kid and getting a large ransom--which is amazing considering that they are constantly drnk and occasionally high. They do not plan to hold the child either, which is wise because they would never have been able to keep him quiet-...more
Dixie Diamond
Apparently I'm the only reviewer who liked the straightforward writing of this. I don't want an author to inject too much melodrama into my nonfiction. Just the facts, ma'am. The crime itself was awful enough; it doesn't need to be dramatized.

I liked this but it doesn't quite give the reader a full feel for the people involved. Or maybe it does, and it's just that Hall and Heady (is it pronounced "heddy" or "heedy", anyway? Heedy, I guess) were basically unremarkable people who turned out to be...more
Jan
The author was a high school junior in 1953, living in St Joseph Missouri, when 6-yr-old Bobby Greenlease was kidnapped from his private school in the same city, by a woman posing as his aunt. This gripping book recounts the deed, the subsequent killing of little Bobby (briefly-it does not dwell on this sad tale), and the eventual capture of two privileged people, Bonnie Heady and Carl Hall, gone bad. The $600,000 in ranson money they received is the second largest cash haul in US history; about...more
flannery
Other reviewers are right; this is a pretty dry, unimaginative retelling of the Greenlease kidnapping. I kept waiting for the gun that appears in the first act to go off in the third act but no, there really are just a lot of inconsequential facts included for the sake of inclusion. Still I love true crime and this is a really well researched book. It's set between Hyde Park, Mission Hills and St. Louis, places where I live, work, and have lived (respectively) so it's hard for me not to take int...more
Eric
Good account of a pivotal event in Kansas City's history. Unfortunately the St. Louisan who authored it focused too much on his city's connection to the case and not enough on its impact in Kansas City. The incorrect use of place names and other local lingo was also somewhat annoying.

Like most things in Missouri, this book could have less STL and more KC.
Alecia
It kept me going as these two drunken, amoral 1950's psychopathic criminals were too heinous (and stupid) to believe. The writing is straightforward and almost journalistic. Nothing lyrical or poetic about this writing. But somehow, the laying out of the plan of this kidnapping and murder is horrendous and compelling in the simplicity of the telling.
Kara Thomas
I usually reserve 1 star reviews for books that I can't finish. And while I did complete this book, it was only for a reading challenge. The writing was redundant and disjointed. The best thing about this book was the title. I wouldn't waste your time.
Teri
An exciting read for someone living in St. Louis South City. Most of the places described (Hampton Village, the rented apartment on Arsenal across from Tower Grove Park, Gurney Court) are still here today.
Carol
Very compelling true story, which I had not been aware of around the time and place I was born. Simply written, but gets the job done describing the pathetic moral structure of the kidnappers.
Jessica Fure
Sadly, this goes astray in the last half. It's disconcerting when there's so much detail in the first part and the second half is noticeably rushed. I feel like I've just read one of my old papers...
Shana
Jun 26, 2012 Shana rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: True crime nuts like myself
Shelves: true-crime
A decent portrayal of a horrible crime. It was a little slow in parts. Not my favorite true crime book ever but if you're a real true crime buff, you will probably still enjoy it.
Chris
Very interesting if poorly-written and edited. I remember this case from when I was little as being sensational and scary and so I wanted to know more about it.
Hilary
I actually only got 1/4 of the way into this one before I gave up. The real murder case was depressing enough, and the author's writing style didn't help.
Kelly
Not the most exciting writing style, but the true story was interesting enough to keep me reading.
Mary
Quick read and an interesting account of the Bobby Greenlease murder. Good KC history included
Jana
The facts of the case, listed dispassionately. Not sure why the author bothered....more
Meleya
It was ok, not great but not bad. I learned a few things that were unique to this case.
Stacie
Good story with lot of potential but not very well written.
Michael Hermann
Decent read if you are into Kansas City history
Carrie
Interesting story from KC's past
Adrienne Olejnik
Adrienne Olejnik marked it as to-read
Jul 24, 2014
Charlie
Charlie marked it as to-read
Jul 21, 2014
Sam
Sam marked it as to-read
Jul 11, 2014
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Bird Revolution marked it as to-read
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Former editor of St. Louis Magazine and other periodicals.
More about John Heidenry...
The Gashouse Gang What Wild Ecstasy: The Rise and Fall of the Sexual Revolution The Boys Who Were Left Behind: The 1944 World Series between the Hapless St. Louis Browns and the Legendary St. Louis Cardinals Bad to the Bone: The Playboy, the Prostitute, and the Murder of Bobby Greenlease. John Heidenry Their's Was the Kingdom: Lila & Dewitt Wallace & the Story of the Reader's Digest

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