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Eric Johnson
My Father's Story: The Murder of the Best Man I've Ever Known
Eric Johnson, author

Adult; True Crime; (Market)

Discover the captivating story within the pages of "My Father's Story: The Murder of the Best Man I've Ever Known" by Eric Johnson. The story unfolds when Eric delves into the life and tragic death of his father, Bill Johnson, who was brutally murdered by his ex-girlfriend in his own home, taking not only his life but also that of his beloved dog. In Eric's account of the story, you will witness first hand how profoundly an act of violence can change lives forever. Eric entangles his readers in a captivating journey toward truth and justice with surreal court hearings, fit for a horror movie, that puts his dad’s ex-girlfriend's mental health at the epicenter of her defense. As you flip through the pages, you'll be enthralled by each distressing twist and turn. Embark on this inside look into loss, heartache, and a brutal quest for truth that lies within "My Father's Story: The Murder of the Best Man I've Ever Known."

Johnson’s debut examines a heartbreaking crime and the legal and emotional aftermath. On March 17, 2021, William Johnson and two dogs were killed by his ex-girlfriend, Angelee Ross, whom William met in 2014 at the mechanic shop where he was employed. William’s son, Eric, enjoyed a close and loving relationship with his father (whom he called “Pops”) throughout his life and was of course shattered by this. In My Father’s Story Eric recounts fishing trips, learning about cars, and visiting his father frequently until his dad bought a “dream home” in the Manistee National Forest in Michigan 2017. By that time, William and Angelee had broken up amicably and then reconciled, a pattern that would continue, on less friendly terms. From the outset of the investigation, Angelee never denied murdering William. She would plead eventually guilty by reason of insanity on six different felony counts, including first degree murder.

Combining personal narrative and partially redacted transcripts of evidentiary hearings and other court proceedings, author Eric relays the story of his relationship with the man he called “Pops,” a loving father who, as Eric writes, “not only fulfilled his role as a dad but also became one of my closest confidants.” These passages are touching, as are Eric’s accounts of the aftermath, finding support from unexpected quarters (including relatives of Angelee's), and learning through hearings exactly what transpired in his father’s last moments.

The bulk of the book shares testimony from those hearings. In the end, Angelee was found not guilty by reason of insanity and remanded to a mental health facility, likely for the remainder of her life. The narrative would benefit from more first-person storytelling; in narrative passages, Eric’s style is offhand but effective, especially when capturing what it feels like, in the moment, to face such momentous hearings. The court transcripts are enlightening but also repetitive and technical, and more summaries and some explanations of state statutes and forensic terms would provide greater clarity.

Takeaway: A son faces his father’s murder and the transcribed hearings that followed.

Comparable Titles: Rachel Howard’s The Lost Night, Sarah Perry’s After the Eclipse.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: B+
Illustrations: A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: B