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A Cold-Blooded Business: Adultery, Murder, and a Killer's Path from the Bible Belt to the Boardroom

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In 1959, Olathe, Kansas was made famous by the murder of the Clutter family and Truman Capote's ground-breaking book on the crime, In Cold Blood. But fewer know that Olathe achieved notoriety again in 1982, when a member of Olathe's growing Evangelical Christian population, a gentle man named David Harmon, was bludgeoned to death while sleeping—the force of the blows crush In 1959, Olathe, Kansas was made famous by the murder of the Clutter family and Truman Capote's ground-breaking book on the crime, In Cold Blood. But fewer know that Olathe achieved notoriety again in 1982, when a member of Olathe's growing Evangelical Christian population, a gentle man named David Harmon, was bludgeoned to death while sleeping—the force of the blows crushing his face beyond recognition. Suspicion quickly fell on David's wife, Melinda, and his best friend, Mark, student body president of the local bible college. However, the long arms of the church defended the two and no charges were pressed. The case was declared as dead as David Harmon. Two decades later, two Olathe police officers revived the cold case making startling revelations that reopened old wounds and chasms within the Olathe community—revelations that rocked not only Olathe, but also the two well-healed towns in which Melinda and Mark resided. David's former wife and friend were now living separate, successful, law-abiding lives. Melinda lived in suburban Ohio, a devoted wife and mother of two. Mark had become a Harvard MBA, a high-paid corporate mover, a family man, and a respected community member in a wealthy suburb of New York City. Some twenty years after the brutal murder, each received the dreaded knock of justice at the door. A Cold-Blooded Business provides fascinating character studies of Melinda and Mark, killers who seemingly returned to normalcy after one blood-splattered night of violence. A fast-moving true crime narrative, A Cold-Blooded Business is a chilling exploration into the darkest depths of the human psyche.


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In 1959, Olathe, Kansas was made famous by the murder of the Clutter family and Truman Capote's ground-breaking book on the crime, In Cold Blood. But fewer know that Olathe achieved notoriety again in 1982, when a member of Olathe's growing Evangelical Christian population, a gentle man named David Harmon, was bludgeoned to death while sleeping—the force of the blows crush In 1959, Olathe, Kansas was made famous by the murder of the Clutter family and Truman Capote's ground-breaking book on the crime, In Cold Blood. But fewer know that Olathe achieved notoriety again in 1982, when a member of Olathe's growing Evangelical Christian population, a gentle man named David Harmon, was bludgeoned to death while sleeping—the force of the blows crushing his face beyond recognition. Suspicion quickly fell on David's wife, Melinda, and his best friend, Mark, student body president of the local bible college. However, the long arms of the church defended the two and no charges were pressed. The case was declared as dead as David Harmon. Two decades later, two Olathe police officers revived the cold case making startling revelations that reopened old wounds and chasms within the Olathe community—revelations that rocked not only Olathe, but also the two well-healed towns in which Melinda and Mark resided. David's former wife and friend were now living separate, successful, law-abiding lives. Melinda lived in suburban Ohio, a devoted wife and mother of two. Mark had become a Harvard MBA, a high-paid corporate mover, a family man, and a respected community member in a wealthy suburb of New York City. Some twenty years after the brutal murder, each received the dreaded knock of justice at the door. A Cold-Blooded Business provides fascinating character studies of Melinda and Mark, killers who seemingly returned to normalcy after one blood-splattered night of violence. A fast-moving true crime narrative, A Cold-Blooded Business is a chilling exploration into the darkest depths of the human psyche.

16 review for A Cold-Blooded Business: Adultery, Murder, and a Killer's Path from the Bible Belt to the Boardroom

  1. 5 out of 5

    Valerity (Val)

    This was a twisted story of the bludgeoning murder of a young husband in Olathe, Kansas that became a cold case, and how it was eventually solved. Another reviewer is correct in that the author is wrong about the Clutter case also happening in Olathe, and it does beg the question...what else isn't accurate in the story. The town of Holcomb, KS where the Clutter crime occurred was nearly 400 miles away. A pretty good story if accurate otherwise.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    A lot of telling without showing This book contains a compelling story, and one that could lend itself to much more analysis and detail than is given. Some of the more intriguing aspects are glossed over, such as the conspicuous absence of Melinda's father during her trial and her careful avoidance of admitting specific details. Why the author chose to vaguely refer to her linguistic acrobatics without giving examples is anyone's guess. The result is a book that feels more like a dry overview tha A lot of telling without showing This book contains a compelling story, and one that could lend itself to much more analysis and detail than is given. Some of the more intriguing aspects are glossed over, such as the conspicuous absence of Melinda's father during her trial and her careful avoidance of admitting specific details. Why the author chose to vaguely refer to her linguistic acrobatics without giving examples is anyone's guess. The result is a book that feels more like a dry overview than an in-depth narrative.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Tom

    I'm always fascinated by human behavior, or misbehavior as it may be. And this book was no disappointment in that area. The writing, however, left me feeling like I was reading the Cliff's Notes version of the real book.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kavan

    When Hannah Arendt traveled to Jerusalem to cover the trial of Nazi Adolf Eichmann she coined a term the banality of evil. The term referred to the ability of seemingly normal, law abiding people to commit heinous actions. I found myself thinking about that term and its implications while reading A Cold Blooded Business. The story covers the murder of a young bank worker in 1982 & the trial of the two individuals accused of the homicide some twenty years later. Journalist Marek Fuchs covered the When Hannah Arendt traveled to Jerusalem to cover the trial of Nazi Adolf Eichmann she coined a term the banality of evil. The term referred to the ability of seemingly normal, law abiding people to commit heinous actions. I found myself thinking about that term and its implications while reading A Cold Blooded Business. The story covers the murder of a young bank worker in 1982 & the trial of the two individuals accused of the homicide some twenty years later. Journalist Marek Fuchs covered the trials & tried to reconcile the 1982 murder with the aftermath two decades later. One of the themes Fuchs explores is the notion of putting the lion back in the cage-namely how can an individual or as in this case a pair of individuals commit one absolutely violent, heinous crime, then proceed to live spotless lives for the next two decades. While Arendt was looking at the impact of a system, Fuchs is examining the same dynamic in a couple. Can two people commit an act so vile, that in it’s aftermath they cannot even look at one another. These are the makings of an intriguing if morally unsettling tale. Unfortunately Fuchs text reads like a newspaper report, lacking in real psychological and sociological insight. The victim David Harmon comes across as a perfectly decent individual, who probably needed to grow up a bit or marry an entirely different type of woman. Harmon’s wife Melinda comes across as a hypocrite who latched on to men because of who they thought they were, instead of figuring out who she was…The sort who felt something was wrong if others did it, but seemed to ignore her own lapses. Their friend Mark Mangelsdorf had a fairly interesting trajectory going from Bible college to increasingly successful corporate boardrooms. Fuchs spends a lot of the early book focusing on religion-but never really delves into how religion led to the murder in 1982. The author seems to want to blame the hothouse atmosphere of a Christian college, but the author simply doesn’t develop the dynamics of Melinda and Mangelsdorf’s bond anywhere near enough to explain their actions. Fuchs also ignored the absolute incompetence of Kansas law enforcement authorities. Perhaps the biggest problem is unlike Arendt, Fuchs finds no easy answers. The Nazis provides an excellent framing device for her theory. Fuchs is unable to draw the usefulness out of religion and Christian colleges in 1982. Further as David Harmon’s father muses near the end of the book, simply solving the murder does not resolve the questions the crime provoked.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Linda Lou McCall

    This is a surprising well-researched account of the not-so-exciting but gory cold-blooded murder of a husband perpetrated by his Bible-thumping wife and her "chaste" religious lover. (Apparently, kissing, necking, heavy petting, and even oral sex isn't REALLY cheating on one's spouse among the white upper echelon!) Wifey was more ashamed of flirting and inappropriate touching than she was of the prolonged, bloody beating of her husband (suspected weapon: a CROWBAR, purchased by her "Boo" right b This is a surprising well-researched account of the not-so-exciting but gory cold-blooded murder of a husband perpetrated by his Bible-thumping wife and her "chaste" religious lover. (Apparently, kissing, necking, heavy petting, and even oral sex isn't REALLY cheating on one's spouse among the white upper echelon!) Wifey was more ashamed of flirting and inappropriate touching than she was of the prolonged, bloody beating of her husband (suspected weapon: a CROWBAR, purchased by her "Boo" right before the crime! The interesting thing is that these two squares almost got away with the "perfect crime", but were finally brought down after more than 20 years, thanks to a new Cold Cse Squad! Of course, Wifey initially blamed the crime on the "usual two black men in masks" who just happened to show up in her bedroom in the middle of the night to kill her hubby for no apparent reason. The author does a great job giving an indepth and upbeat account of a really senseless crime. The reader can tell that even the author ain't buying it! Especially since the two "lovers" never spoke again after the crime, each going on with "life after murder" like white people do: Harvard MBA, marrying well, excelling spectacularly in business, making COO, multi-million dollar homes, trips around the world, and every day suburban tasks like taking the kiddies to soccer and piano practice. But being such religious people, each should have known that "God don't like ugly" and their indiscretion was just around the corner, waiting to pounce upon them when the time was right! Ever since my days of "Nancy Drew", I've always been a big devotée of true crime. However, recently the books in the genre have been weak. Are we readers becoming jaded all of a sudden? This book is a rare find! Totally enjoyable with righteous retribution in the end! This, in spite of all-white juriy and an outrageously expensive legal "dream team", including the flamboyant Kennedy family lawyer Mickey Sherman! Unfortunately, the cards are stacked against the lily white defendants. Nobody will walk but, with a bit of luck and a heap of divine intervine, JUSTICE does often prevail and these cold-blooded killers could have hope of seeing their kids! A hope forever denied the victim, a father of 3 - particularly since one of his eyeballs flew across the bedroom during the savage predatory, lying-in-wait, blitz attack- an unprevoked attack premeditated for weeks! Good stuff!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Laren

    This is about the murder of David Harmon which you may have seen on 48 Hours Mystery. He was brutally bludgeoned to death in his own bed. His wife Melinda and their mutual friend Mark were immediately suspected, but due to lousy investigation techniques they were not charged. Although it was suspected that the two suspects were having an affair, they fell out of contact with each other almost immediately. More than two decades later the cold case is picked up and charges were finally filed. That This is about the murder of David Harmon which you may have seen on 48 Hours Mystery. He was brutally bludgeoned to death in his own bed. His wife Melinda and their mutual friend Mark were immediately suspected, but due to lousy investigation techniques they were not charged. Although it was suspected that the two suspects were having an affair, they fell out of contact with each other almost immediately. More than two decades later the cold case is picked up and charges were finally filed. That's actually when the story gets a little weird. Melinda does everything but confess, and then makes a deal AFTER she is convicted to obtain a lighter sentence in exchange for her testimony against Mark. Mark is also given a deal in exchange for a guilty plea, but oddly he is not made to tell what happened in his own words as part of that deal. The 48 Hours Mystery story portrayed his guilty plea as some sort of conscience change on Mark's part. But this book explains it more as a business deal which begs the question as to whether or not he really did commit murder. Either way, the crime itself doesn't make much sense. Their religion discourages divorce, so presumably the two committed the murder to allow their relationship to proceed. But why would two people feel such passion about this that they would do such a thing, and then immediately stop all contact with each other thereafter? How can they continue to pretend they aren't really guilty given there are absolutely no other viable suspects in two decades? Or could there really be other suspects? This author didn't make up the story, but his telling doesn't really raise the many questions begging for answers. He just sticks to the facts, and I felt like there was more investigative information he should have included. It was almost as if the interview he had in person with Mark and his wife just prior to the guilty plea swayed his objectivity for the rest of the book. From the title of the book, I feel that the writer intended to frame the murder in some larger picture. But it is simply long winded, and not truly desciptive of the book we get here.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Dave

    You can tell Marek Fuchs is a reporter by trade. His facts are presented in a logical yet tension-building order, his characters are true and reveal themselves mostly through their own words and actions, and events and circumstances are weighted appropriately to their impact on the story rather than their potential to produce book-selling blurbs. It is this professionalism that separates A Cold-Blooded Business from many other examples of the true-crime genre. There is plenty of melodrama in the You can tell Marek Fuchs is a reporter by trade. His facts are presented in a logical yet tension-building order, his characters are true and reveal themselves mostly through their own words and actions, and events and circumstances are weighted appropriately to their impact on the story rather than their potential to produce book-selling blurbs. It is this professionalism that separates A Cold-Blooded Business from many other examples of the true-crime genre. There is plenty of melodrama in the story itself, and Fuchs puts it all before the reader without making you wallow in it. The Church of the Nazarene could have been depicted as a near-cult for example, but it was portrayed instead as a fundamentalist sect for Christians who don't believe you have to wear wool underwear to feel closer to God yet want the protection of a semi-closed society that holds itself just sightly holier than everybody else. The characters reflect reality, too. All three of the main players, victim David Harmon, his wife Melinda, and their eerily successful and intimate friend Mark Mangelsdorf, are real people who lean on their religion when they need it, being very careful to not look at the underpinnings of their beliefs too closely lest they learn the foundation is a bit shaky. Fuchs did an especially fine job of demonstrating how Mark turned away from the religion of the prairies to worship at the altar of the corporate boardroom with much the same calculating proficiency he used to purchase, use, and hide the murder weapon that apparently has yet to be found. I appreciate the way this story was told without the sensationalism that pervades and overwhelms most such books. At the hands of a skilled reporter like Marek Fuchs, A Cold-Blooded Business carries you through a sordid affair without making you feel like a rubber-necker sniffing around the blood stains at a highway fatality.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Micalla Weinstock

    I finished this book within 24 hours. The story is super close to home, as it takes place in Olathe, KS. I did not love the style of writing--I found it wordy and confusing. What's frustrating is you really only get the author's opinion of what happened, as both suspects claimed their innocence until they decided on a "business deal" to plead guilty to lesser their sentences. Super bizarre story. Melinda seemed flighty and annoying, but also sounds like she felt real regret. Mike, on the other h I finished this book within 24 hours. The story is super close to home, as it takes place in Olathe, KS. I did not love the style of writing--I found it wordy and confusing. What's frustrating is you really only get the author's opinion of what happened, as both suspects claimed their innocence until they decided on a "business deal" to plead guilty to lesser their sentences. Super bizarre story. Melinda seemed flighty and annoying, but also sounds like she felt real regret. Mike, on the other hand, seems like a real JERK, and such a sketchy guy. The story was of special interest to me, as the there were ties to my husband's college and childhood church. I read some parts aloud to him, and he was disappointed with some things as they were inaccurate (history of the college and church--nothing imperative to the story, but still a miss). Really want to follow up and try to track down info on where these two are today.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    Interesting story of the resurrection of a cold case, the murder of David Harmon in Olathe, KS, in 1982. Having lived close by Olathe for the last 4+ years, I wish I had read this when I lived there, so I could go see some of the landmarks described - the Nazarene College, the courthouse, etc.... Very interesting on exactly how the case was mishandled and how the police were intimidated by powerful chich figures and did not intensely interrogate the original suspects, much to their later chagrin Interesting story of the resurrection of a cold case, the murder of David Harmon in Olathe, KS, in 1982. Having lived close by Olathe for the last 4+ years, I wish I had read this when I lived there, so I could go see some of the landmarks described - the Nazarene College, the courthouse, etc.... Very interesting on exactly how the case was mishandled and how the police were intimidated by powerful chich figures and did not intensely interrogate the original suspects, much to their later chagrin. Also makes you appreciate law enforcement and all their efforts and determination to bring the killers to justice. Rather curious in that that the eventual convicted killers had led very successful lives after the murder, in contrast to what one might have assumed from the ferocity and violence of the crime.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    This book is a recap of all the news articles about this murder. It was an OK read, but I felt like I was re-reading the news stories that were written as the trial went on. There are a lot of repetitive bits that made me feel the author needed to fill a few more pages, so he repeated some comments several times, somewhat for the shock factor I think. The book also needed an editor, or at least a different editor. There were several places where I felt like I was reading a newspaper article inst This book is a recap of all the news articles about this murder. It was an OK read, but I felt like I was re-reading the news stories that were written as the trial went on. There are a lot of repetitive bits that made me feel the author needed to fill a few more pages, so he repeated some comments several times, somewhat for the shock factor I think. The book also needed an editor, or at least a different editor. There were several places where I felt like I was reading a newspaper article instead of part of a story in a book. Overall, it was OK, but not something I'd recommend as a good read.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rita

    I especially love to read true crime books that I lived through in the same town. This is one of those books. Not only was I living in Olathe Kansas at the time it took place, I was attending Mid-America Nazarene College at the time. I didn't personally know Mark but saw him on campus. Book follows what I remember happened at the time.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jane Thompson

    True Crime An interesting book which tells the story of a in twenty year old unsolved murder. It was unsolved, yet everyone believed they knew who had committed the killing. This is the tale of how the presumption murderers were brought to justice.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lyn Richards

    Not gripping I like true crime stories. This one left me wondering why they did it? The main characters were strangers to me even at the end of the book.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mark Pollock

    Well written outline of a senseless crime. The author did a great job of defining the crime. The dangers of brainwashing from organized religions are all over this book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lela

    Seeing a recent rerun of 48 Hours reminded me that the perpetrators of this senseless murder should be eligible for patole. After googling their names, I found they both had been released from prison after serving short sentences. I decided to reread the book again for details I had forgotten. The second reading reminded me of how horrendously cruel and savage the murder of David Harmon was and no matter how 'upstanding' and successful the murderers had become in the years before they were arres Seeing a recent rerun of 48 Hours reminded me that the perpetrators of this senseless murder should be eligible for patole. After googling their names, I found they both had been released from prison after serving short sentences. I decided to reread the book again for details I had forgotten. The second reading reminded me of how horrendously cruel and savage the murder of David Harmon was and no matter how 'upstanding' and successful the murderers had become in the years before they were arrested, they caused heartache and grief for so very many people and for no plausible reason. The book is well written, to the point and was a fast read.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Hank Pharis

    (NOTE: I'm stingy with stars. For me 2 stars means a good book or a B. 3 stars means a very good book or a B+. 4 stars means an outstanding book or an A {only about 5% of the books I read merit 4 stars}. 5 stars means an all time favorite or an A+ {Only one of 400 or 500 books rates this!).Awful story (not how it's written but what happened). flag Like  · see review Jun 12, 2020 Amanda Davis rated it liked it I don’t know if it was because I was familiar with the case, or if it was just tedious reading, but it took me forever to get through the story. The ending is also kind of a let down, not really what you’re looking for in a true crime book. flag Like  · see review May 15, 2018 Jason rated it really liked it Perfectly (large or tall) physical specimens dealing with the the archbishop's daughter, playing intellectual love-hookey ending in violence. For a church community run like a moral spy ring, MDMA should have improved the triangle's sexual satisfaction as well as preventing homicide of the cuckold. flag Like  · see review Jul 09, 2017 Jeff rated it liked it An interesting story marred by overinflated writing. Also, the exaggerated double spacing pads out a 125 page book to 200. flag Like  · see review View 2 comments Jul 22, 2019 James McGlynn rated it really liked it A cold case that was finally cracked. flag Like  · see review Sep 23, 2020 Helen Montgomery rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition Very intriguing Unbelievable story of murder for love to live a life apart. Crazy thoughts make people do crazy things. Well written and a true page turner flag Like  · see review Dec 07, 2019 Amber rated it really liked it As trashy true crime books go, I like this guy's writing style, and he was able to get a pretty revealing interview of one of the key players in the murder. flag Like  · see review Jan 19, 2017 Ronnie Cramer rated it it was ok Another reviewer remarked that this seemed like a Cliff's Notes version of the story. I can certainly see why they felt that way; despite a surprising amount of detail here and there, it did seem rushed. Too bad, because it's a fascinating case. A senseless crime, the salient point was made at the end by the victim's father: 'You can solve a mystery without having answered any of the questions it posed.' flag Like  · see review Mar 30, 2009 Jennifer rated it it was ok Shelves: adult-books I wanted to read this blow by blow account of a botched murder investigation in Olathe because the people involved were members of the religion I grew up in. But while the basic plot of infidelity and police incompetence was compelling and briskly paced, the tone was very clinical and dry, and I found myself skimming to the end just to find out if the killers ever confessed. flag Like  · see review Apr 17, 2014 John Branney rated it liked it I thought this story was well reported in the book, but the author left very little suspense in the telling of the story. The reader knew from the very beginning of the book 'whodunit' and why. I kept turning pages expecting the big surprise, but it never showed up. One thumb, narrowly up. flag Like  · see review Jan 31, 2018 Lauretta rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition An okay bookIt took me a long time to finish this book. A lot of twisting and turning. Mark thinks that he's the smartest. It's hard to believe he didn't get life. flag Like  · see review Jun 02, 2015 Linda Bechtold rated it really liked it I found this book fascinating especially since I am familiar with many of the people and places in the book. flag Like  · see review View 1 comment Apr 10, 2009 Patricia rated it really liked it Very interesting and informative true crime book. Well written and well researched. flag Like  · see review Jacque' Spellman rated it really liked it Oct 23, 2019 Danielle Sweeney rated it liked it Sep 01, 2016 « previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

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