From 1926 to 1928, Gordon Stewart Northcott committed at least 20 murders on a chicken ranch outside of Los Angeles. His nephew, Sanford Clark, was held captive there from the age of 13 to 15, and was the sole surviving victim of the killing spree. Here, acclaimed crime writer Anthony Flacco - using never-before-heard information from Sanford’s son, Jerry Clark - tells the real story behind the case that riveted the nation.
Forced by Northcott to take part in the murders, Sanford carried tremendous guilt all his life. Yet despite his youth and the trauma, he helped gain some justice for the dead and their families by testifying at Northcott’s trial, which led to his conviction and execution. It was a shocking story, but perhaps the most shocking part of all is the extraordinarily ordinary life Clark went on to live as a decorated WWII vet, a devoted husband of 55 years, a loving father, and a productive citizen.
In dramatizing one of the darkest cases in American crime, Flacco constructs a riveting psychological drama about how Sanford was able to detoxify himself from the evil he’d encountered, offering the ultimately redemptive story of one man’s remarkable ability to survive a nightmare and emerge intact.
©2009 Anthony Flacco (P)2014 Audible Inc.
Heartache, Courage, Inspiration.
The most memorable moment in this story for me was the prosecuting attorney Kelly breaks up when he sees the extent of damage done to Sanford at the chicken ranch. As the narrator chokes out the words, portraying the emotion of Mr. Kelly it is impossible not to feel the level of hurt emotionally and physically of young Sanford. It is equally impossible not to feel the incredible compassion of Mr. Kelly. I am grateful for the narrator recognizing the need to relay this to the listener.
Mr. Flacco is of course the author of this book. As a result he understands how to convey the feelings of the individuals involved.
I did listen all in one sitting. Yes. The book is engaging, moving, horrifying and uplifting.
This is not simply a true crime novel written in a "just the facts ma'am" style. Although I find many of those interesting as well. This book is written with the focus on the victim more than a focus on the criminal. This book is not one for the squeamish. I would recommend this book but advise readers that the emotions exposed are raw.
This was an incredibly disturbing true crime story which at times was very difficult to listen to. In fact I had to take a break at times to deal with the terrible descriptions of abuse suffered by the narrator (the victim, Stanford Clark). But I kept going and am glad I did as the story was also a very compelling one and I really, really wanted to see justice served against the pepetrator of these horrific crimes. My only discontent with the book was that I thought it was a bit weak at the end. I would have liked it to focus more on the trial. I must put in a mention of the narrator of this audiobook, Anthony Flacco, who does an amazing job of portraying the twisted and depraved personage of Clark's Uncle. I would encourage listeners to look up photographs from this true crime case as they will definately add depth to the characters portayed in this book, as well as the settings and courtroom drama.
The story is very well written and respective of the victims. Including comparisons to today's world helps us to understand how much the world has changed and how powerless victims were to tell their story in the 1920s. Sanford was an amazing young man and even more amazing adult to overcome the horrific abuse experienced during his captivity.
The narration was too theatrical and quite distracting from the story. I nearly stopped listening after the first chapter, but glad I stayed with it as the story was written so well.
Given that this book tells the story from the perspective of Sanford Clark, you know he gets away. I kept reminding myself of this fact in the first part of the book. I was pleased to see that the book told the story of Sanford's life after the chicken farm.
The narration is very good. He really gets into character.
Caution: This book spares no details.
I had mixed emotions about this but ultimately I found it a very satisfying listen. I'm a fan of true crime, a well written and good narration of the story is a bonus.
This was a compelling story of tragedy and resilience. At times Flacco's descriptions of the places and characters is lacking. There could have been more detail's to the little things about the characters and scene settings that draw the reader in deep, but I loved his narration. His animation kept me listening.
Yes. I spend long hours driving a truck and any driver knows that those 10 hours can sometimes feel like 20 hours.....a good book is worth the investment.
His enthusiasm for the story. Characters were believable and I felt emotions, both empathy and disgust, for the range of goodness and evil that exists in this true story.
Evil has blood relatives too.
I almost turned this off very early on. The graphic descriptions of Sanford's physical abuse were almost too much for me. But I decided to hang in there and hear his story out. Although I wouldn't describe his life after his release as triumphant, I am impressed by his strong will to survive the rest of his life as normally as possible. He was tormented up to his death with the demons that followed him around in his mind. As a Christian, I have to wonder if Sanford's life after his release wouldn't have been very different if he had invited Jesus Christ into his heart and allowed Him to banish the torment. With Christ's forgiveness, Sanford could have forgiven himself.
The epilogue was interesting to me in that all credit was given to Sanford and the people around him for helping him survive the atrocities he endured on his uncle's ranch. I saw Divine intervention again and again. What hurts my heart is that Sanford, by this account, never recognized God's intervention nor publicly acknowledged it. I believe Sanford could have had a triumphant life if he had.
Best audiobook I have purchased thus far. The narrator was excellent, and the content is superb. Do not hesitate to add this to your list. Non-fiction and true crime fans will not be disappointed.
I highly recommend this book for true crime fans. I have listened to it twice now, and thoroughly enjoyed it both times. Anthony Flacco is an excellent writer and a superb narrator. He completely had me into this book. His changes in voice for the different characters was so great and the emotion that he put into it was heart wrenching. I will probably listen to it again. Thanks to the Clark family for telling us their story.
I'll have to agree with some of the other reviewers that the details were shocking and somewhat hard to hear, but it had to be heard to understand what this man lived through as a boy. It's incredibly heart breaking and I kept wishing I could save him and the others.
No, but no because it wasn't a good story. It was just so sad and as the mother of a three year old boy it was very disturbing.
The content and the true evilness of Gordon Stewart Northcott.
It was fine not particularly great but not bad either.
I was riveted from the beginning, brilliant. As a survivor of abuse myself from age 11 to 20 I understand the 'heaviness' and feelings of hopelessness Sanford went through. What an amazing person to get through it. A true hero.
loved it from start to finish
very shocking to think it's true
highly recommend this one! !!
"Tragic , scary , perfectly narrated."
This was painful to listen to for the first half, the pain was almost palpable a I witnessed this boys humiliation, fear and hopelessness, if it weren't for the narrator who almost gently ushered and urged you to stick with it I would probably have not been able to continue listening.
It suddenly strikes you just how badly thought of in terms of regard for life children were in that era, certainly in rural and developing parts of America, doubtless to say that this boys story of abuse was not rare, just unreported. .
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