cover image Secret Witness: The Untold Story of the 1967 Bombing in Marshall, Michigan

Secret Witness: The Untold Story of the 1967 Bombing in Marshall, Michigan

Blaine L. Pardoe. Univ. of Michigan, $55 (232p) ISBN 978-0-472-11823-6

On August 18, 1967, postman Donald Damon delivered a package to Paul and Nola Puyear at their Tasty Cafe in the peaceful community of Marshall, Mich. When Nola opened the package, a bomb exploded, killing her and ripping apart the restaurant interior. Since Nola had no enemies and no motive was evident, investigators were puzzled as fearful townsfolk came to "the slowly growing realization that a murderer might lurk among their number." While Paul Puyear's numerous extramarital adventures initially made him the prime suspect, investigators soon uncovered a web of similar escapades among other residents: "Marshall's rumor mill had plenty to say about the clandestine affairs of its citizens." The Detroit News's Secret Witness program, offering monetary rewards for anonymous tips, led to the arrest of "squirrelly" Enoch Chism, a violent man beset with personal demons. Novelist and nonfiction author Pardoe (Lost Eagles) reconstructs the day of the bombing, the investigation, Chism's trial and conviction, and the aftermath. The heightened terror of these events is compared with Alfred Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt. However, with a cast of more than 80, this compelling crime tale provides a peek into small-town secrets that reads less like Hitchcock and more like the sordidness of a Grace Metalious novel. (July)