In the late 19th century, Jefferson County, Missouri, was striving to emulate its cosmopolitan cousin to the north, St. Louis, while it battled to wipe out the remnants of its frontier lawlessness. The West was truly wild all the way back to the Mississippi River, and while progressive St. Louisans were installing telephones, the sheriff in Hillsboro was trying to find out who was stealing all of the pigs. One of the last of the bad men in Missouri was Mack Marsden. For over three years he was suspected of every major crime in Jefferson County. Though the newspapers labeled him a desperado, he was tried only once and never convicted of any wrongdoing. So when he was ambushed, shotgunned, and left dying on a dusty road, his mystery took on a new life. Who murdered him? And if Mack wasn’t the desperado behind all those crimes, who was?
For the first time, all of the available resources, including oral histories, are mined for the clues that answer these questions and more. This narrative nonfiction book is a true mystery that bears striking parallels to that of fellow Missourian Jesse James—and is as thrilling as any of the more famous tales of the Old West.
Joe Johnston is a writer, artist, and songwriter based in Nashville. He's a native of Missouri and a lifelong outdoorsman. Besides publishing How to Fail in the Music Business and Jesus Would Recycle, he is the inventor of the now-famous McDonald’s Happy Meal.
Winner of the 2012 National Indie Excellence Book Award, True Crime category.
ISBN 978-1-883982-69-0, $24.95, paper