Book Review "Evidence of Love"

True Crime Book Review
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"Evidence of Love" by John Bloom and Jim Atkinson

"Evidence of Love" is a riveting true crime book about a killing that occurred in the mid-80's in the outskirts of Dallas, Texas.

At several points I had to check the book's publishing data to make sure I wasn't reading fiction so unbelievable was this tale of housewives, Texas churches and murder. But not to fear, the book details a true story and the authors, both Texas newspaper reporters who collaborated to compile the story of Candy Montgomery, her husband Pat, Betty Gore and her husband, Allen.

The authors did a pretty good job of it too. Unlike many true crime novels, this story was written as if the reader had no recollection or knowledge of the crime story being told and there were surprises scattered throughout the book. A true crime book is rarely written in this manner as so many true crime details are well-known by the reader. Indeed I had never heard of this particularly strange crime and would suggest that the story was probably more of a local Texas tale than a true crime of national proportions. Also, the killing occurred at a time when the wild and wooly Internet was not yet a vehicle for newsgroups and/or bloggers to speculate on these types of crimes or were 24-hour cable news channels yet a TV establishment in most American households.

This true crime tale read like fiction in that at various points throughout the book, shocking truths and strange twists were inserted, exactly at the point when the reader thought he/she had it figured out.

I could not put this book down.

For if ever there were two couples so very, very odd while appearing for all the world to be so perfectly normal, it would be the Montgomerys and the Gores of Collin County, Texas.

Then there was the Methodist church and the strange preachers combined with weirdly devoted parishioners and oddball church-sanctioned "marriage counseling" that added to the reader's perception that this book HAD to be fiction; surely churches and normal people don't behave like this.

Betty Gore was discovered dead in her home's laundry room. She had been killed by an axe. Whoever murdered Betty Gore wielded that axe so forcefully and with so much anger that her left eye had sunk deep into her skull and could not be seen on her dead body. Many of the axe blows that killed Betty Gore were applied AFTER she was dead. Someone hated and despised Betty Gore, this was obvious by the heinousness of the crime.

The last person to see Betty Gore alive was Candy Montgomery. Candy had dropped by Betty's house to pick up a swimsuit for Betty's daughter who was spending that evening with the Montgomerys. Betty Gore's baby was alone in her crib and spent that entire day sobbing for her mother. Who lay hacked to death in the home's laundry room.

The authors dived into the story of Betty Gore and Candy Montgomery as is typical of this genre. Backgrounds of people involved in true crime cases are often relevant to their lives after childhood. While the history of both of these women was interesting and good reading, frankly I found nothing at all odd about the women and their past. Betty is depicting as being "cold and aloof" while Candy is depicted as vibrant and a risk-taker. So, I thought. These descriptions describe a lot of people and few of them end up hacked to death by an axe.

The church background as involves this story is especially important as the reader slowly discovers that there's just something damn odd about a church that plays such a major part in normal family life. The devoted parishioners of Lucas Methodist church were so involved in church activities that it seemed to swallow their families whole. I had always considered the Methodist church to be against such things as marital infidelity yet the oddball female preacher who ministered at the Lucas Methodist church merely cluck-clucked when a parishioner not only confessed to seeking a string of extra-marital affairs, but actually listened to the details with little comment.

Betty Gore's murder was determined to be an act of self-defense.

Chew on that sentence a bit then try to understand that a woman brutally murdered by an axe, hacked to death then hacked more after she was dead, was self-defense. Yet that was the verdict.

The authors almost, but not quite, convince the reader by providing background of Texas, churches and bored housewives, that this verdict is understandable.

I thought the verdict totally unbelievable and yet it is true.

Read the book.

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Anonymous said...

Just a brief comment. I live in Collin County Texas, and I was in the town of Wylie when this murder occured. This is a very true story and very sad. I happened to know some of the people personally. The policeman on the scence was my brother in law at the time. The book was pretty much right on target.

Anonymous said...

I moved to Wylie about 5 years ago and live on the street where it happened. I was wondering if anyone knew what the house number was. If anyone knows I would greatly appreciate it. I just need to know if it was my house. (i hope not)

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Anonymous said...

410 Dogwood is the street number in Wylie. I just went to a book club featuring the author Jim Atkinson last night. I spent 3 hours listening to him. It was really interesting. Did you know Candy's attorney, Don, committed suicide?

Anonymous said...

Not only is it a true story but Candy was also my babysitter at the time of the murder. She lived next door to my boyfriend and I knew her very well. I did not know Betty, however I also knew the defense attorney. If anyone is interested, what goes around comes around. The attorney killed himself several years ago.

Anonymous said...

we drive by 410 Dogwood every now and then just to take a look. Even though it has been about 30 years now, it is still so interesting and unbelievable what went on in that home. The home where Candy lived is about 5 minutes from me and still looks exactly the same with the same street markers that the book mentions. I saw Don Crowder (Candy's lawyer) about 10-12 years ago in Plano very drunk at a restaurant, very sad and then about a year later I read he committed suicide.

Anonymous said...

Mrs. Gore, who I will always remember her by, was my 5th grade teacher and was murdered the summer after I was in her class. I have distinct memories of her, not because this turned out to be a 'murder in a small town story', but memories that would have stayed with me regardless of the tragedy. Mrs. Gore had a fantastic imagination and shared that with her class. She was artistic and warm. I wish I could tell her 'little' girls, even after all these years, what a wonderful mother they had.

Anonymous said...

Mrs. Gore was my 5th grade teacher also. Reading was a struggle for me. She took me under her wing. With permission from my parents, she would pick me up and take me to her home where I would read to her. She would encourage me and feed me pb&j sandwiches chased with a tall glass of milk. She is one of the reasons I am a high school principal to day.

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Anonymous said...

I remember this case well and even today when I think about the trial and verdict it sickens me. The movie, "Killing in a Small Town" (Barbara Hershey) portrayed Betty Gore as a very weird individual, not well liked and the movie was very bias in it's portrayal of her. Though this book, Evidence of Love" is compelling, it too was sympathetic towards Candi in my opinion. Reportedly her pastor showed up at Candi's door with a bottle of champagne when she was acquitted. How sick is that? How could anyone celebrate such a horrific murder. What Candi did after the murder was horrendous too.
It's my understanding that she moved to Georgia soon after and today is a Licensed Professional Counselor.