Pin It
Favorite

Book Review 

by TED S. McGREGOR JR. & r & & r & Son & r & by Jack Olsen & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & T & lt;/span & wenty-five years ago, Jack Olsen published Son, the real crime story of Spokane's South Hill rapist, Kevin Coe, whose attacks terrorized the Lilac City and reminded us just how vulnerable we are in the face of psychopaths. Olsen -- a former Time correspondent who's now deceased -- diligently constructs in vivid detail a fast-paced drama that flips among the brutal attacks, the victims and the secret life of Coe, who from prison continues to deny his guilt. The book also examines the bizarre relationship between Coe and his mother, who later tried to hire a hit man to kill the judge and prosecutor involved in her son's initial 1981 trial.





Olsen's riveting account is worthy of another read, especially now as Coe returns to the spotlight for a civil commitment trial in which the authorities hope to prevent his release from prison.





But it's not simply nostalgia or the upcoming trial that still makes Son good reading today. Olsen writes a hard-to-read but harder-to-put-down book that illuminates a dark, distressing chapter in Spokane's history -- one that we shouldn't soon forget. Besides exploring the mind of a psycho, the book looks at the culture and power of the city -- from its police department to its conservative newspapers that, Olsen suggests, were slow to respond and slower still to warn the citizenry. In this way, history implicates more than Coe alone. "Vicious sex crimes like rape were uniformly downplayed," Olsen writes in the prologue. "Newsprint was better used to characterize 'the All-American City' as an ideal setting for business."





The story touches many of the city's most prominent figures, from the Cowles family (Coe's father was the managing editor of the Spokane Daily Chronicle), to attorney Carl Maxey and broadcaster Shelley Monahan (now with KHQ).





In the end, the book provides a snapshot of Spokane 25 years ago. Readers new to the book may be surprised that many of Olsen's observations still hold true today. As artfully as Olsen has rendered this disturbing story, Son will be compelling -- and necessary -- reading for another generation of Spokanites.

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • Game Changer
  • Game Changer

    Since Condon became mayor, Jan Quintrall has been responsible for some of the biggest changes in the city of Spokane — and some of its biggest controversies
    • Dec 17, 2014
  • In Contempt
  • In Contempt

    A Spokane judge rules that the mental health system has willfully failed to follow evaluation deadlines
    • Dec 17, 2014
  • Never Again
  • Never Again

    Washington state lawmakers push reforms after last July's murder-suicide; plus, Spokane's police ombudsman is leaving
    • Dec 17, 2014
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed
A T. Rex Named Sue

A T. Rex Named Sue @ Mobius Science Center

Tuesdays-Sundays. Continues through Jan. 4

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by n/a

  • Iron Upgrade
  • Iron Upgrade

    The new one is smart and funny and action-packed, and it’s bigger and better and sleeker. And Downey does it again, this time ramping up Stark’s arrogant wisecracking, telling anyone who’ll listen (mostly women) that, via the creation of his powerful Iron Man suit, he’s brought years of uninterrupted peace to the world.
    • May 12, 2010
  • Get Out the Vote
  • Get Out the Vote

    With all the uncertainty in the world these days, hot wings and cold beer are two things we can get behind
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • Seeing Gay
  • Seeing Gay

    A festival showing GLBT from all angles
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Let Us Breathe

    Spokane joins national protests over the failure to indict white officers for killing black civilians
    • Dec 10, 2014
  • Screw Big Cities

    A mid-sized manifesto
    • Dec 3, 2014
  • More »

© 2014 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation