Author: Ellen J. Green
Narrator: John Chancer
Started: April 16, 2022
Finished: April 20, 2022
Ray Havens is waiting to see if he can get a haircut when something horrible happens. He sees his neighbor, Howard Unruh, murdering their neighbors. In a matter of twelve minutes, Unruh murders thirteen of his neighbors on River Road in Camden, NJ. This horrible day is noted as the first recorded mass shooting in America.
Howard Unruh is a decorated war veteran who came home and was never the same. He is a quiet, odd man who has no job, no friends, and feels the world is against him. Each day he is teased mercilessly by his neighbors who call him "Nancy boy" and allude to the fact that they know his biggest secret - in a time where it is completely unacceptable, Howard is homosexual. One day Howard decides he has had enough of the teasing and bullying and decides those who have tortured him must pay for their sins - with their lives.
This story is told through the eyes of neighborhood boy Raymond Havens and Howard's mother as they try to make sense of what happened and relive how it changed their neighborhood forever. Thanks to newly released documents, the author was able to present a fuller story with intricate detail.
The narrator, John Chancer, does a wonderful job of expressing the horror and dismay of the story of River Road in 1949. He was able to effectively evoke the confusion and dismay that Howard's mother felt when trying to make sense of what Howard had done and why he did it. I was extremely impressed with how easily his voice drew me into the story of this lone man and the havoc he caused.
While the story revealed itself a little slower than I normally would have liked, I believe the author laid out all the details beautifully and gives a great trip from beginning to end.