Book Review

Book Review

“In Cold Storage” by James Hewitt tells the story of a 1973 double murder in McCook, Nebraska.  Hewitt revisits evidence, newspaper articles and interviews many of the witnesses, including the murderer himself, who was in prison at the time.

When body parts started showing up on the shores of Harry Strunk Lake, the citizens of “McCook feared a deranged lunatic was loose in the community.” Nobody suspected that one of their neighbors could have done this-in fact, a man encouraged his wife to stay with the murderers during the scare because he had to be out of town. After some investigation Harold and Ena Nokes were arrested for the murders of Edwin and Wilma Hoyt.

This slim volume recounts the details of Edwin and Wilma Hoyt’s murders. Both families were rooted in the southwestern corner of Nebraska. The 1970s brought new social behaviors to the community, including open promiscuity.  It also brought new technology like wire-tapping which was at that time unregulated by the courts.

The character list was almost overwhelming for a 132 page book- a list at the back would have been helpful.  It also could have benefitted from more editing, while the book is interesting and well-laid out, it reads like a first book, it is choppy in places, repetitive, and in places bizarre. It seems unnecessary to explain to the reader that the body parts were placed in two caskets which remained closed at the funeral service.

As the investigation unfolds, the author finds discrepancies between the 1974 confession of the murderer and his personal interview of Nokes in 2007. Hewitt goes on to speculate about the actual timeline and the implementation of the murders in the last two chapters. Sometimes a horrific crime just doesn’t make sense.

“In Cold Storage” by James W. Hewitt is true crime book which deals with a horrific murder. The author describes the murder scene in graphic terms. If this sort of thing bothers you, you might want to skip it. If you are interested in true crime and 1970s Nebraska, you might enjoy it. “In Cold Storage” is located in the Nebraska books section of Gering Public Library.