By Joe Sharkey
while rookie FBI agent Mark Putnam bought his first task in 1987, it was once the fruits of a lifelong dream, if now not the main fascinating position. Pikeville, Kentucky, is excessive in Appalachian coal nation, an outpost rife with lawlessness relationship again to the Hatfields and McCoys. As a emerging famous person within the bureau, however, Putnam soon was cultivating paid informants and busting drug earrings and financial institution robbers. but if one informant fell in love with him, ardour and responsibility might collide with tragic results.
A coal miner’s daughter, Susan Smith was once a tender, appealing, suffering unmarried mom. She used to be additionally a drug person occasionally defined as a con artist, thief, liar. eventually, Putnam gave in to Smith’s relentless pursuit. but if he ended the affair, she waged a crusade of vengeance that threatened to ruin him. whilst finally she faced him with a stunning assertion, a violent scuffle ensued, and Putnam, in a burst of out of control rage, fatally strangled her.
notwithstanding he had every little thing essential to break out with murder—a spotless popularity, a sufferer with a number of enemies, and the security of the bureau’s impenetrable shield—his judgment of right and wrong wouldn’t let it. laid low with a yr of guilt and deception, Putnam ultimately led experts to Smith’s is still. this is often the tale of what occurred sooner than, in the course of, and after his startling confession—an account that “should take its position at the darkish shelf of the simplest American real crime” (Newsday).
Revised and up to date, this booklet additionally contains images and a brand new epilogue via the author.
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Additional resources for Above Suspicion
Or the hapless gang who held up a bank on Peter Creek, found themselves stranded when the getaway driver got lost en route, politely borrowed a teller’s car keys, and then ran out of gas a half mile down the road. This atmosphere, however, underwent a change during the late spring and summer of 1987 in the hill towns of the Tug Valley when there was an unusual spurt of bank robberies. Small banks in the mountain towns on both the Kentucky and West Virginia sides of the Tug were being knocked off, not only efficiently, but in a similar manner, by a robber using a sawed-off shotgun, with accomplices wearing ski-masks with crudely cut holes for their eyes.
Shortly after the Putnams arrived, the senior agent from the Louisville office, a man seldom seen from year to year in Pikeville, drove down to offer the new arrivals a welcome. He told Mark frankly that he would have been better off in a more central office like Lexington, where there were dozens of more experienced agents to teach him the ropes. But the supervisor pointed out the bright side to Mark’s situation. A small isolated office such as Pikeville offered certain career opportunities for a rookie looking to make a name for himself.
Clothes were laundered outside in the butter-churn and hung on long lines up the hill like battleship flags in the wind. She recalled school days hiding from the truant officer because she had no shoes; breakfasts of biscuits and gravy for the week after check day; bread and milk the rest of the month. She remembered her father trudging home across the mountain from the mine in Majestic at night, his face black with soot. Like many of the old miners, he died of black lung disease, an oxygen tank by his bed.