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The Prom Night Murders: A Devoted American Family, their Troubled Son, and a Ghastly Crime

3.22  ·  Rating details ·  68 Ratings  ·  14 Reviews
In 1989, a shocking tragedy shattered an otherwise peaceful small Indiana community. Much-admired pastor Robert L. Pelley was found slain in his home. In his basement were the huddled, blood-soaked bodies of his wife and daughters, executed by shotgun at close range. The doors to the house were locked, and there were no signs of forced entry. Meanwhile, the pastor's son, J ...more
Paperback, 302 pages
Published April 28th 2009 by St. Martin's True Crime
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Sep 15, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: true-crime
Interesting case where everything turns on which witness has the most accurate memory of what times they arrived at specific locations. Everything turns on if whether the clock was five minutes fast or slow, since the window for the defendant to have committed the murders is only 20 minutes. That said, the writer's need to explore tangents and insert strange and slightly biased commentary, was a bit distracting. There are several pages dedicated to a murder in Florida that occurred around the sa ...more
Jun 25, 2012 rated it liked it
I was so disappointed by The Prom Night Murders. I wasn't disappointed by the writing, which was good. I wasn't disappointed by the research, which was thorough. I was disappointed by the ending.

Warning: This may seem like a spoiler, though the back of the book and a check on Google will reveal nothing less than what I've included.

I love true crime. It's probably my favorite genre, and I've read quite a bit of it. When it goes as far as a trial, I have never once failed to develop an opinion of
Dec 15, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: true-crime
A pastor is found murdered along with his wife and their two small children. The police immediately zero in on the teenage son as their only suspect, but the evidence is extremely thin. Can they convict him?

This story sounds interesting, but unfortunately it is heavily mired in legal maneuvers and the reader doesn't get a feel for any of the people as a result. I have read books by this author before and enjoyed them, and I've read books with extraordinary legal detail too, so I can't quite put
Sep 30, 2015 rated it did not like it
This book was PAINFUL!!! I almost put it down multiple times. I felt that the first half of the book was all over the place. When I read true crime I always enjoy reading the history of each member involved and I feel this book really left it out. Then the second half about the trial...first I truly believe that this was political and Jeff was an easy target. Not to say that I don't think Jeff is innocent, but I feel the investigation was very narrow minded! Also the fact that it took over ten y ...more
May 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
This was interesting to me because it happened in my community. I didn't know any of the family members well, but going to a school at the time that only had about 100 students in each class, I knew OF them. I distinctly remember the speculation in the hallways and decided to read the book after the sentence was appealed, overturned, and then again reinstated.

Many familiar names are contained within (kind of a shock when you find out a distant cousin was a notable witness in a case such as this
Sep 22, 2012 rated it it was ok
I am a huge fan of true crime novels so this one immediately caught my attention - unfortunately it did not keep me interested. I found it hard to follow, the way it seemed to jump around. One minute we're reading about the murders and the next we're reading about some "rumors". Once the book dived into the laws and politics aspect of the case I lost interest fast. It seemed repetitive, it's all about time, I might even be afraid of clocks now. Anybody else pick up on the obsession the author se ...more
Katherine Smith
Jun 23, 2009 is currently reading it
I feel there is at the very least reasonable doubt and that Jeff Pelley could very well be innocent. I also think that the police did a huge injustice by not looking deeper into his father's shady past.
For a more contemporary true crime account, try Carlton’ Smith’s books. The Prom Night Murders is one of his more popular books, and so is a great starting point.
Jan 02, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: true-crime
It happened "close to home" but before I ever lived here. I just wanted to hear the story. Not sure the author was completely objective.
Corrine Purvis
Aug 22, 2014 rated it liked it
I liked it. It gave a lot of information and background on the whole event. Not everything is completely accurate.
Dara S.
I think this might have been a better story without all the politics and laws about clocks.
Ronnie Cramer
Oct 16, 2014 rated it it was ok
This book was quite compelling for a while but it more or less fell apart and ended with a whimper.
Kristy Christensen
Apr 16, 2016 rated it it was ok
I did not like this book and I am a True Crime buff. To much legalese and not sure about the ending.
May 02, 2016 rated it liked it
So far the book is awesome, can't put it down.
Kat Reed
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Sep 19, 2012
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