Monday, September 8, 2014

by Clint Richmond

It's the largest unsolved crime in the Southwest. Sheriffs, the Texas Rangers, and federal agents have been baffled for decades not able to figure out how and why it happened.
Hazel and Nancy (her daughter) Frome were California socialites. They had traveled all over the world by themselves, unescorted by any man and were about to do it again. Both of them knew how to drive and bought a silver Packard.
They took off on a road trip in March 1938 from San Francisco heading towards the East Coast. Their car broke down in El Paso, Texas, so they decided to live it up by staying in a ritzy hotel and going to the border of Juarez, Mexico, to shop, dine, and drink. One week later, their battered bodies were found in the desert. They had been abducted, tortured, and shot execution style.
Chris Fox, the local sheriff, doggedly investigated this heinous murder for years. He was convinced that everything originated in California, because Hazel's husband was an executive at Atlas Powder Company (an explosives manufacturer) and they became involved in  World War II. Hazel liked to talk and was constantly bragging to strange men about what her husband did. At this period of time, Germany wanted to infiltrate American industry and sent spies over to try to get information that they then could use for themselves. German espionage was rampant in California, Texas, and Mexico. Did Hazel talk too much?
If you're a true crime fan, you will want to read this book. It took Clint Richmond fifteen years to dig through declassified files to construct a plausible story. From the beginning, he sets the tale up quite well and keeps you riveted. It's actually quite frightening to find out how many Nazi agents were on our soil and that President Roosevelt and his administration knew they were here.
Fox came the closest to solving the case, while being maligned constantly about it.
Fetch the Devil will definitely keep your interest up to the end, which is the most fascinating, since that is where Richmond presents his theory of the murders.
Highly recommended.