Liars, Saints, and Sinners: Crime, Mystery, and Family History (Paperback)
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How do you make sense of your mother who married five times or your father who left his birth family
and changed his name? What do you do with three differing newspaper accounts of your father’s
death? How does your uncle, “the Dynamite Man,” the most arrested gangster in St. Louis, fit into all
this? In an intersection of Mormons and mobsters, Stevenson takes you on a journey of discovery that
spans seven generations and two-thirds of the continental US. She uncovers her father’s two Social
Security cards with two different names and two different numbers. She finds a half-sister that her
mother told her about and a St. Louis family that her mother never met. One cousin in St. Louis spent
years collecting news articles on the notorious uncle. Dawn follows-up with research of her own, reading
more than a thousand news articles on Uncle Blackie, whose gangster life is well documented in
newspapers of the day; on her father, Woody, and his likely employment aboard a gambling ship in
southern California; and, in a final mystery, the dozen news items that give three different accounts of
the three-car accident in which her father died with the third car going both north and south—not
Schrodinger’s cat, right? Woven throughout the family story is Stevenson’s own path from a childhood
in rural Utah to college as a nontraditional student and professional success, growing up in and
eventually out of the Mormon church.
About the Author
Dawn LaRue Stevenson survives a turbulent childhood, marries young, and returns to college as a nontraditional student with five children living at home. She becomes the valedictorian of her local junior college. She eventually completes a B.A. in English Teaching. She also earns an M.S. in Educational Psychology, School Counseling and completes another master’s program in Education Leadership and Policy. Dawn teaches in the school counselor education program at Utah State University for six years and at University of Phoenix for fifteen years. At UPhx, she teaches graduate level Human Development two or three times every year. Dawn and her husband live in Salt Lake City. Between them, they have nine children and twelve grandchildren.
“The tale is so compelling, so real, so accessible that anyone
anywhere can identify with it, even if one has not been raised in the strict Mormon Church, as she was
growing up.” (Clint Palmer, filmmaker and writer, Pasadena, CA)