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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  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,964 Ratings  ·  128 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 Devil in the White City by Erik LarsonThe Stranger Beside Me by Ann RuleTrue Hollywood Noir by Dina Di Mambro
Best True Crime
39th out of 608 books — 1,052 voters
In Cold Blood by Truman CapoteHelter Skelter by Vincent BugliosiThe Stranger Beside Me by Ann RuleThe Devil in the White City by Erik LarsonTrue Hollywood Noir by Dina Di Mambro
True Crime
29th out of 433 books — 538 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Ruth Turner
Nov 25, 2014 Ruth Turner rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned


I love big books, but at 1072 pages on my laptop, this was a chore to read, and with 100 pages to go I abandoned it.

Firstly, the number of people in this book, some of them adding nothing to the story, is mind-boggling, and it was exhausting trying to keep track of everyone. I had to keep a notepad and pen beside me and at one point I honestly contemplated doing a family tree.

Marjorie, a church friend of Tom Lynch’s mother, Dolores, makes an appearance in the first 322 pages and then is never
Feb 15, 2011 Pseudonym rated it it was ok
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.
Jan 03, 2009 Sarah rated it really liked it
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.
Robert Whaley
May 08, 2016 Robert Whaley rated it really liked it
I read this years ago when it was serialized in the News and Record. A remarkable piece of writing and all the more enthralling by the fact that it took place where I lived. I would highly recommend it.
Tanya Allen
Jun 07, 2015 Tanya Allen rated it did not like it
If you have unlimited time and patience, you might enjoy this book. You will get excruciating details of every acquaintance who ever interacted with the primary characters, every trip they've ever taken, and every vitamin they've ever popped. (Seriously.) And just when you think there's nothing left to tell....there's another 5 chapters of "aftermath." I wish I'd never started this book...
Mary Ballard
Jan 06, 2015 Mary Ballard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Blood on their hands

I read many books in true crime, and I'm usually sad afterwards, but this story made me so angry. My heart goes out to Tom Lynch. I highly doubt Susie was controlled by Fritz, or anyone else, in fact it sounds like she was controlling everyone and everything her entire life. She was nothing but a spoiled, selfish bitch. Shame on her family for sitting back and doing nothing and making excuses for her, while 2 small boys suffered emotional abuse and brainwashing at her hands.
Andrea Clark
Jan 04, 2015 Andrea Clark rated it it was amazing
This book has immense details surrounding tragic family murders.It is one of the most bizarre true crime stories I have read.I do believe a lot more could have been done by law enforcement to prevent the final tragedies.Prayers go out to all my personal opinion lack of awareness and acceptance of mental illness play a huge part in how things exploded into an unfixable situation.It is hard to identify mental illness,especially in prominent families where a "problem"such as "crazy"jus ...more
Geraldine Meskill
Jul 20, 2014 Geraldine Meskill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Rebecca McNutt
Jun 04, 2015 Rebecca McNutt rated it really liked it
Shelves: true-crime
Well-written, disturbing and memorable, this is a true crime novel definitely worth reading.
Teresa Slack
Dec 31, 2012 Teresa Slack rated it liked it
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.
Feb 02, 2012 Serena rated it it was ok
Shelves: mysteries
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.

Jul 06, 2012 Robbie rated it it was amazing
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!
Jun 25, 2015 Kathy rated it it was amazing
Unbelievable story, I could not stop reading. The author introduces you to several family members of this prominent South Carolina family. Each has their own unique quirks but all are very socially conscious since one family member is the first female judge in the court with a reputation to uphold. The story opens with the first unexplained murder of the family matriarch and her daughter. There is no obvious reason for the killing and the investigation goes nowhere, initially. I read this 700 pa ...more
Maryann MJS1228
Dec 13, 2015 Maryann MJS1228 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: true-crime
I've been rereading a few classic true crime books. Some hold up well and deserve the "classic" term, others are too much a product of their times to resonate today. Bitter Blood is, thankfully, a true classic. Arguably Jerry Bledsoe's best book it is the result of newspaper articles he wrote at the time of the murders. His personal desire to explain the tragedy is evident on nearly every page as is his ultimate frustration at his inability to find finite answers to all that took place.

The story
Aug 19, 2016 Laura rated it really liked it
I had mixed feelings reactions to this book, although it was very good and interesting.

As I was reading it I thought the book could be brought down a couple hundred pages and still impart much of the same information. There were times as I was reading the narrative that I could hear a narrator off a crime documentary narrating certain parts. That made me smile because I would begin to read like the voice I was hearing.

Other from that I thought the book was interesting and it is always interestin
Jul 01, 2016 Mwrogers rated it really liked it
Interesting true life crime drama. Lots of names to try and keep track of! Sad story but well written.
Apr 22, 2016 Brittany rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a tragic story, and I think it's important to remember that this happened to real people. But as a book, it presented a compelling mystery with a satisfying resolution (in the sense that most of the main puzzles were solved and all of the loose ends were tied up - the actual final events are horrifying). It's fairly well-written, although I didn't always know where it was going in the beginning, and the story was told in a circular manner. I hope the families involved were able to come t ...more
Jan 25, 2013 Shana rated it really liked it
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
Kristin Kibbee
Jul 27, 2015 Kristin Kibbee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Complex, complete, and unpredictable- Must Read!

This book deserves the highest rating because the author cleverly releases this complex story in bits and pieces. Sometimes the most unbelievable and unpredictable stories are the hardest to tell. This masterfully woven story seems like fiction, but unfortunately it is true. It left me wishing for a different and more satisfying outcome. Comfort was found in that this story had a clear ending and the evils ceased.
Dec 05, 2010 Naomi rated it really liked it
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
Sep 09, 2015 Rita rated it really liked it
Bledsoe is an outstanding writer. I demand good sound truthful accounts and he never fails! This is a sizable read and I did feel that some of the chapters were insignificant. I do however understand that we all like what we like and some people will love the history and backgrounds of all involved.
Great book. A excellent account of tragic situations.
Keith Lewis
Jun 01, 2015 Keith Lewis rated it liked it
Classic Jerry Bledsoe Southern true crime. He does a good job of the reportage and the detail is very fine. Some of the ancillary players could probably have been left out. This is a heartbreaking story (aren't most true crime tales?) and the added bonus is that you will recognize some of the names and places if you've lived in the Piedmont very long.
Rita McDowell
Jul 29, 2014 Rita McDowell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition


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!
Jan 20, 2015 Falina rated it it was ok
This was most true crime books I feel like the trial drags on too long and I end up skimming. This story didn't really have a trial, but there were detailed backstories on some of the characters which I didn't think necessary, and there was a big epilogue/aftermath discussion in the last 50-100 pages that I mostly skimmed through. I also really look forward to the pictures in true crime novels (I wait until I'm finished the book to look at them) and these were pretty disappointing.
ILove Books
Jul 18, 2015 ILove Books rated it it was amazing
This was such a well written book about a true story. It gave so much depth to every character involved in the plot and you couldn't help but feel like you were right there when this tragedy occurred. This is the first time I am reading a true crime genre and I must say I really liked it.
Shelley Stevens
Jul 21, 2016 Shelley Stevens rated it really liked it
Shelves: true-crime
Sometimes the telling is confusing, with the introduction of soooo many players. I felt that I wanted to start takings notes and compiling a family tree for a visual aid. Beyond that however, this was a gripping retelling and the way the stories meet in the middle is a very intriguing way to draw the connection. Sad that it's all real.
Jun 03, 2015 Tammy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Awesome book! Jerry Bledsoe did a great job capturing the story and taking us back to 1985. I've read the book before... today being the 30th anniversary of the tragedy that unfolded in Guilford County, I decided to give it another read.
Nov 18, 2014 Ruth rated it it was ok
Although this was an interesting crime story particularly due to the locale of one of the crimes being so close to home, I thought the author added far too many family related details that, in my opinion, added nothing to the story.
Donna Halloran
Apr 07, 2015 Donna Halloran rated it it was amazing
I loved this. Despite its length, I finished it in under five days. It was a powerful, crazy story. Part of me is desperate for an update of where these family members are today and what they think looking back 30 years...
Jan 29, 2015 Kellye rated it liked it
I like the south. I like true crime. True crime in the south...all the better. The story is compelling, but the writing style was a little off putting to me. The story, though, is totally worth the read.
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