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AUTHOR SCOTT CAWELTI
SCOTT CAWELTI was born and raised in Cedar Falls, Iowa. He taught writing, film, and literature courses at the University of Northern Iowa from 1968-2008, and writes regular opinion columns and reviews for the Waterloo Courier. He has co-authored two writing textbooks and edited The Complete Poetry of James Hearst (University of Iowa Press, 2001). Having a BA in vocal music, he played for years in a folk duo with Robert James Waller and still regularly performs as a singer/guitarist/songwriter. On December 5, 2010, he released “Landscape Iowa: 16 James Hearst Poems, Sung” a collection of Hearst poems for which he wrote music and performs with 12 other musicians. (Available on iTunes and Amazon.com.)
I was absolutely fascinated from the get-go, and not a single section so boring or redundant that I wanted to skim; not even the trial. And I love it when a book is so well-written that I enjoy reading all of it. So Brother’s Blood by Scott Cawelti gets a big thumbs up from me. Most definitely put it on your reading list!.…Kim Cantrell, True Crime Book Reviews
Jerry Mark was a Peace Corps volunteer, lawyer, 4-H leader, vice-president of his Cedar Falls High School senior class, and certainly a most likely-to-succeed young man when he graduated in 1960. Sixteen years later he was convicted of four cold-blooded execution-style murders of his own family. How could he? That’s what Brother’s Blood explores. Author Scott Cawelti knew Jerry Mark in high school, interviewed him in prison, observed his arrest, trial, and conviction with shock and horror. Brother’s Blood reveals a mind consumed with anger, revenge, jealousy, and greed. This book is not a whodunit but a whydunit. This account engages readers with the actual facts: the killer’s cross-country motorcycle ride, the landmark investigation in which the murderer was fingered in ten days, the trial where circumstantial evidence was used to make a powerful case against him, and his appeals which continued for three decades.
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Anyone who is acquainted with the Iowa family murder recounted here will not only revisit the facts as they are known, but also speculate with the author about what thoughts might have gone through the twisted mind of the perpetrator both perspectives in keeping with the rich potential of faction. Those familiar with Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood; will find Cawelti’s handling of fact and fiction masterful and will conclude Capote has nothing on Cawelti. All readers should steel themselves for a disturbing encounter with the bafflements of a brother’s commission of a horrific act and an unpardonable sin. —Robert Gish, author, West Bound: Stories of Providence
The Marks were an Iowa farming family less well-known than the Clutters of Kansas, but comparable in the hideousness of their murders. Using interviews and trial transcripts, Scott Cawelti has given us the terse and mercifully distanced account of how one jealous brother carried out the crime. The allusion to Cain and Abel is apt; one dearly wishes the killer had read that story, and learned its lesson. –Robley Wilson, author, The Victim’s Daughter