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The Pastor's Wife

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  220 Ratings  ·  31 Reviews
When Pastor Matthew Winkler was found dead at his Fourth Street Church of Christ parsonage in Selmer, Tennessee, both police investigators and parishioners were shaken and mystified: How could evil strike this cradle of faith? Meanwhile, Mrs. Winkler and her three daughters were still missing…

A frantic search for Mary Winkler and the girls ensued. Once they were found, on
Paperback, 320 pages
Published November 4th 2008 by St. Martin's True Crime (first published 2008)
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Petra Eggs
Dec 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Secret lives, who knows what goes on when the front door is locked and the children in bed? Abusive men threaten women with death and taking away their children all the time, but the women go to the police, they go to Women's Shelters, they go to various charities, churches or their family. They don't in general pick up guns to threaten their husbands and oh, it went off accidentally, so then they take the kids and run away trying to cover their trail as they go. Was she guilty of murder or mans ...more
Mar 06, 2011 rated it liked it
This book was fairly good to read, it didn't tell me anything that other sources (i.e., CNN, HLN, etc.) have not already indicated to us. I don't know anyone involved in this case, but we all know & understand that Domestic Violence is a growing issue, sadly it does end in violence sometimes. No, I don't think it's OK kill another person, ever. I also don't think that she should have done what she did w/ small children in the house. I try to put myself in her shoes & ask: "what would I h ...more
True Crime books will either engross me or bore me, black or white with little gray. One of the hardest subjects to engage readers in, because facts are hard to get through without putting the reader to sleep. This book was at times boring... like when the author went through huge details of the state, when I really didn't care and mostly paragraph skipped through it. On the flip side of the coin, she did a pretty good job of keeping me wanting more info on the crime itself and the personalities ...more
Nancy Loe
Dec 08, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: true-crime
I've never read any of Fanning's other true crime books and now I'm not likely to. Her writing is saccharine and florid and apparently there's a rule that every noun must have an adjective. This is an interesting case, but it needs a real writer to do it justice.
Jul 12, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: true-crime
I felt the author put more information not needed into the book to extend the book.. I did not find the book that interesting nor did it keep my attention. I was slightly disappointed.
Steve Kemp
Jan 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
I live in middle tennessee and have followed this case since day one. My first thought was "that crazy bitch is lying her ass off" ! Pisses me off that this murderer served virtually no time all because she decided to destroy her husbands image with lies that got bigger and bigger the longer the trial played out . I believe that when she was caught in Alabama her intention was to kill herself and the kids ,I have always thought that ! And the author also brings up this scenerio toward the end o ...more
Jul 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I'm not a huge mystery fan, but every once in awhile, a true crime title will grab my attention like this one did. A few years ago I'd read an article in Glamour about a pastor's wife awaiting trial for the murder of her husband, and had always wanted to know how the case turned out.

This is one of those situations where truth is more complicated than fiction. While it appears clear that Matthew Winkler was a controlling and probably even abusive husband, it's not clear how far that abuse went, a
Aug 26, 2011 rated it really liked it

"When Pastor Matthew Winkler was found dead at his Fourth Street Church of Christ parsonage in Selmer, Tennessee, both police investigators and parishioners were shaken and mystified: How could evil strike this cradle of faith? Meanwhile, Mrs. Winkler and her three daughters were still missing…

A frantic search for Mary Winkler and the girls ensued. Once they were found, on a beach in Alabama, Mary was charged with murdering her husband in cold blood. But why did Mary pull the trigger? What sexu
Sally Kilpatrick
Clearly, I had to read about Mary Winkler. I mean, what writer from Chester County could resist a such a story that happened next door? Heck, some of the story happened IN Chester County.

I skimmed some of the reviews for this book, and I have to say that it's written well enough that I read the entire story in one day. I think Fanning's damn good at what she does. Another thing that really struck me was how she talked about the strain the trial put on McNairy County and how she handled the Fourt
Dec 04, 2013 rated it it was ok
This book was hard to follow because there was too much back story that led nowhere. This was more of a history book on the cities where the couple lived, and famous people from those areas, than it was a book about the hows and whys of the murder of a pastor in a small community at the hands of his wife. While I get that there are never any real answers as to why someone would do something so heinous, I just feel that this book wasn’t well thought out. For the small amount of information this b ...more
Jul 30, 2011 rated it liked it
Unless you've been living under a rock for the last 5 years you've heard about this...A young pastor is found dead, shot in the back, and his wife and three daughters are missing. Three days later she's found in Alabama, and confessing to murder. The book was really good, and interesting, up until chapter 35. The author went into way too much detail about the courtroom testimony, which was quite boring. My suggestion would be to read up to chapter 35, then skip chapters 36-51. Trust me, you won' ...more
Wayne  Harvey
Dec 06, 2014 rated it liked it
Much of the book is simply reiteration of court testimony, which is interesting but most true crime books I've enjoyed provide more interpretation and comments than this one does. Of course, this one is more difficult than most to determine whether the main character is guilty or not. That fact makes this book difficult to like as much as others that are clearer in their endings. The author did well with her subject, though I still give it only three of five stars because she had such few commen ...more
Jan 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: owned
I love true crime (I didn't go to university for criminology for no reason), but I'm not sure I love Diane Fanning's writing style. I remember this case being on the news back when it happened, but over the years the details were lost on me. While I do appreciate a presentation of accurate facts, the way they were presented made the book boring and sometimes hard to slog through. I might give her one more try, to see if a more interesting case would make for a more interesting written account.
Jul 31, 2014 rated it liked it
The author does a good job of presenting the facts in this murder case in an unbiased way. This is the story of pastor's wife, Mary Winkler, who shot her husband in the back as he slept including the capture, investigation and trial. An unsettling book. I can't help feeling that she got away with murder.
Graceful Disaster
Sep 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
I just happened upon this book by accident. It was given to me by a friend. I found it ironic that it's a true story about a Church of Christ preacher being killed by his wife, because I grew up in the Church of Christ. I've not been active since my parents' divorce more than 20 years ago. Diane Fanning did a great job telling the facts of this case with an unbiased voice.
May 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Great read. Justified or not, nobody deserves to be treated badly, physically or emotionally. And I can understand not everybody is strong enough to just leave the situation. I enjoyed this book a lot. I feel sorry for the little girls. Hopefully they are not too scarred.
Jun 09, 2014 rated it it was ok
Thought i might like it because of the same religious background as the people in this real life story of the preacher's wife who shot her husband. It could have been a lot better.....disappointing...
Dec 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
Followed the trial closely and now having read the book about this case. I am still not sure if it was premeditated murder or not. Learned many things I did not hear or see on the news. Fascinating book on a real life crime in my home state of TN
Jan 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
I'm not sure this is an excellently written book---or even that well written. But, I've known this family for years, and I was interested in getting more details about what happened. The book helped me see some of the events leading up to the shooting more clearly.
Tawnya Smith
Didn't even get 1/2 way thru, and that's really unusual for me. Was not written well at all!
Beth Farley
Jan 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
Interesting insight and take on the Church of Christ. Actually not as negative as I was expecting. Sad story all the way.
Faith Repp
Aug 20, 2012 rated it liked it
Saw this story air on Lifetime and didn't realize at the time it was based on a true story. Saw this story when browsing through new books to read. Interesting story!
Dec 12, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I think we will never know what happened until Mary decides to tell us. Personally, I kinda believe what she said so far.
Suzie Flohr
Nov 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
Just finished last night. Great book. Cant believe she didn't spend any time in jail. She should have just divorced him. The kids will grow up confused...
Michelle Zearing
Feb 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Really enjoyed the writing style in this book, It was really well written and this author is one of my favorites.
Kristine Victoria
Oct 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
I found this true life story very interesting. I feel that there could have been more added about the trial, but all in all it was really worth reading
Oct 07, 2009 added it
This book was horrible. I only read to page 37 and I had already decided three times to stop reading. it was not holding my attention at all and it did not flow.
Feb 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This was a good read. The writer kept her opinions to the last few pages and brought about the true nature of what went on. I clung to the pages while I read quickly to finish and see the outcome.
Eva Leger
Nov 22, 2012 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I registered a book at!
Dec 02, 2008 rated it it was ok
Ive been following this story since it happened...this is the first book ive read on the case....very interesting so far....
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