Bitter Blood: A True Story of Southern Family Pride, Madness, and Multiple Murder
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Bitter Blood: A True Story of Southern Family Pride, Madness, and Multiple Murder

4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  2,728 ratings  ·  81 reviews
The killings began with the murder of a feisty millionaire widow and her beautiful daughter in their posh Louisville, Kentucky, home. Months later, another wealthy widow and her prominent son and daughter-in-law were killed in North Carolina. Clues led to the person who linked the families, former child "princess" and fraternity sweetheart Susie Sharp Newsom Lynch. "A tale...more
Paperback, 573 pages
Published April 4th 1989 by Onyx (first published January 1st 1988)
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In Cold Blood by Truman CapoteHelter Skelter by Vincent BugliosiThe Stranger Beside Me by Ann RuleThe Devil in the White City by Erik LarsonColumbine by Dave Cullen
Best True Crime
43rd out of 419 books — 679 voters
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True Crime
24th out of 358 books — 407 voters

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Community Reviews

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I like true crime stories, and I started reading this book I think because the murders were based in my home-state, North Carolina. I very good book to read if you like true crime novels. It's a bit slow going @ first, but it gets better and turns out to be a real page-turner.
Geraldine Meskill
Good read

Good read

very well researched, left you wondering. sad to think that people like these two murderers exist, it's scary. would recommend if into true crime.
Teresa Slack
I read this book on the recommendation of my dentist who went to dental school with Janie Newsome. This was my first true crime book, and maybe my last. I'm used to fiction and found this very dry and very clinical. History on every family member, every detective, judge, lawyer, neighbor, counselor, and reporter. I think he even covered the guy at the car wash. Okay, maybe it wasn't that bad, but I started skimming pages about 1/2 way thru. Maybe all true crime books are like this. Now I know.
Read this because it takes place in my hometown and surrounding areas. My family knew the Klenners, which made this an exciting read, but the prose style was lackluster and the structuring of sections of the story was tedious and hard to get through - the author gave every character's whole biography before explaining any of their relevance. It took about a hundred pages before the story felt like it properly began.
There is a thing as too much information. I didn't need to know about the churches that each member of the police force belonged to. Yawn.

On the other hand, the story was intriguing if a bit grisly. Certainly, it would be hard to develop a fiction as odd as this.

The family tree helped and the photos were illuminating. Living in Greensboro definitely made it more interesting.

If I could give this one more than "5 stars" I would; awesome read and scary someone could think and do these things. If you think you have a nutty family, be grateful! This one was "normal" too, except for a few explosive personalities that found one another or rubbed each other the wrong way! If I didn't have such a long reading list, I'd read this one again!
Jan 25, 2013 Shana rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: True crime nuts like myself
Whoever said "truth is stranger than fiction" must have been talking about this totally unbelievable true crime story. This is a well researched and well written account of this bizarre story about Susie Lynch, who is from a wealthy and well known southern family. After a bitter divorce and custody battle with Tom Lynch, she returns to her home town in North Carolina and becomes romantically involved with her crazy (I mean seriously, stone cold crazy) cousin. Unfortunately, they seem to develop...more
Although this is a good book, it is not as good as Bledsoe's book, Before He Wakes: A True Story of Money, Marriage, Sex and Murder, which sucked me in from page one and kept me going even until today. I recommend it every chance I get. This book has a large number of "characters" which need to be kept straight. This one seems to have a tad bit more information/history than what I think benefits the book, but that is just my opinion. If you are looking for a fantastic 5 star read by this author,...more
Rita McDowell


This book will bring into reality that there exists evil in the world! I truly had to keep reminding myself that this was a true story and not a fictional one! To read that such evil exists was extremely difficult. Guaranteed to keep
you turning pages rooted and reading to there very last word. Awesome!
Sep 30, 2008 Kelly rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who like true crime books
I don't have a whole lot to say about this book. I did enjoy reading it, though it also scared the living crap out of me (and I had to sleep with the light on for several days). It's the story of two sets of multiple murder that end up being related. They're related by one woman in North Carolina in the midst of using her children to get back at her ex-husband, while having a fling with her crazy cousin. The book can go slow at times, because there is a lot of background information needed to ge...more
This book is a "fleshing out" of a series of newspaper articles that Bledsoe did for for what I believe was the Greensboro Record back in the mid-80's. My mom saved all of them for me to read on my trips home from college.

As an adult now living in Winston-Salem, NC, I often pass by the lovely colonial home where Bob & Florence Newsom and Bob's mother, Nanna, were brutally slain, and I never fail to think about Bledsoe's book and the aftermath of 2 families torn apart by hate, revenge and she...more
When I read it I thought it would be a great movie. Discovered that it was a Lifetime movie. Will have to watch.
This is a must read for my OC friends! I didn't love the style of writing, and I'm not a "true crime" reader. But the fact that I frequently drive by the house where these murders took place, and that I knew two of the people who were mentioned in the book, kept me reading! If you know the OC, you will recognize landmarks, common family names, OC churches, etc. This is a story that shook this community in the early 80's, and people who were around then remember it, and usually have something to...more
May 25, 2008 Nomanisan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: see above
If you like meticulously researched, painfully detailed coverage of actual crime, this book is for you. If you can't hang in for 600+ pages of every possible detail, think twice before you pick this book up, because you're going to find it hard to put it down till you get to the very end. Bledsoe does a remarkable job of tracing down every tiny piece of information about, background to, and aftermath/impact of the 1984 and 1985 murders of Delores and Janie Lynch, and Bob, Florence, and "Nanna" N...more
Andrea Forro
Decent book by Jerry Bledsoe Took me quite a while to understand the characters and the relation to each other. Well written as usual but not his best. The story itself is wild though!
I have several ties to this book. I was living in Greensboro when these events occurred...and had just moved out of the apartment complex where Susie and Fritz lived. My daughter was a classmate of John Lynch's when he was killed. For these reasons and more, I had a special interest in reading this book and so it is difficult to give this book an unbiased review. I found it engrossing.
Jerry Bledsoe is an excellent writer and carefully researched this fascinating story. He guides you through the...more
If you like the "true crime" genre, this one is a good choice. Great writing.
Lyn Richards
Truth is stranger than fiction. This woman reminded me of my mom.
Oct 20, 2013 Tommy added it
I actually grew up in the house across the street from the murder house. I was too young at the time to really understand what was going on. I just recently read the book and now when I drive down the driveway and look across the street at the door that she was shot at and the retaining wall where her daughter was shot the first time at.... My hair stands up on the back of my neck. Love the book, but REALLY describes too much in detail for the guy that lives across the street from there lol!
OMG!!! How could a woman do that!!! I don't care if you dislike your ex-mother in-law and your ex-sister-in-law, you don't kill them!!! You don't kill family!!! And you don't kill your babies!!! You don't kill people!!! This lady is this book is a spoiled brat!!! IT TORE MY HEART APART AND BELIEVE ME I HAVE READ SOME TRUE STORIES BEFORE LIKE HELTER SKELTER BUT OMG!!! THIS ONE WAS JUST AS BAD IF NOT WORSE!!!!! It was a good book but if you read it please have a lot of tissue with you please
By melding detectives into one conglomeration, and skimming over other details while laboriously detailing other thing... I have to rate this a 3. Too much lost in translation. Especially given the fact I knew the KSP officers personally and heard several times how they were misquoted. But a bizarre and gripping story.... And the actions of the criminals will haunt you as you try to understand how one man and woman can do such things.
This book is really good if you're into anything about crime, psychology, or just fucked-up people. It's a true story, based in North Carolina, and my dad is actually in the book a few times. I highly recommend this to anyone, it's long, but it kind of reads like a newspaper article (it was written by a journalist from the Greensboro News & Record) so it's pretty easy to read.
I found this fascinating - I like true crime (I'm a 'Snapped' and 'Forensic Files' nut. But mostly because I spent every summer of my young life in Reidsville NC where much of this takes place. My grandmother remembers all the people in it and always felt so sorry for the doctor's wife after all this happened. She apparently really turned into a recluse after the murders.
Donna Starner
I could not put this book down until it was finished! Strange, but true, multiple murders in a tangled web of a family! It is difficult to keep the cast of characters straight, so entwined are they, but it is worth the read. A true crime story that will mystify you at it's many twists and turns. Pure evil really does exist - this storyline will prove it!
Two of the perpetrators of this crime were from my home county. I read this book and the one by Joe McGinniss. The latter was based only on interviews with the wife of the victim and her son, one of the perpetrators. Bledsoe's book, on the other hand, was based on interviews with many people and in my opinion was, by far, the better book.
okay this was well written but not well edited - i did not need the history of EVERYTHING and EVERYONE to get how creepy these murders were. it was way too looooong. Mary Elizabeth needs to stop picking the bookgroup book - no more true crime for a while. But hey if this is your genre you will probably like it.
If "Helter Skelter" and "In Cold Blood" had an offspring it would be this book "Bitter Blood". I could not put it down (ask my wife). Just an amazing true story, with police work that at times was brilliant and at other times inane. So sad though, very possible that some of this tragedy could have been avoided.
I've read it twice (years apart) and the story continues to haunt me. Driving down those same roads, knowing friends of the families and seeing one of the names on a graves is just surreal. Once you've experienced true violence or know someone who has, you will no longer be "entertained" by it on TV or in movies.
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