Self-Published Saturday: So Far From Home: The Pearl Bryan Murder

Self-Published Saturday is my effort to help indie and self-published/indie authors share their books. Indie authors have to do it all, from cover design to editing to marketing. If I can help even a little bit, I’m happy to do it. Below we have So Far From Home: The Pearl Bryan Murder by Robert Wilhelm. This is a nonfiction account of the murder of a well-to-do Indiana woman, whose headless body was found in Northern Kentucky.


The headless corpse of a young woman, discovered in the woods of Northern Kentucky in February 1896, disrupted communities in three states–Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana.

. The woman was Pearl Bryan, daughter of a wealthy farmer in Greencastle, Indiana. Her suspected killers, Scott Jackson and Alonzo Walling, were dental students in Cincinnati, Ohio. How her decapitated body ended up in the Highlands of Kentucky is the subject of So Far from Home: The Pearl Bryan Murder.

It was the age of yellow journalism when sensational murder cases drove newspaper circulation, and daily papers competed to print the most gruesome details and explicit illustrations. Local crimes became national news, and readers followed the daily progress of police investigations and murder trials as if they were serialized mysteries. The murder of Pearl Bryan in 1896, featuring a headless corpse, remorseless villains, and threats of civil unrest, fit the bill perfectly. So Far from Home; The Pearl Bryan Murder revisits the story as it unfolded in the daily press.


Readers who follow true crime will be enthralled by this account of the Pearl Bryan murder. In 1896, Pearl’s headless corpse was found in Northern Kentucky. Investigators initially suspected she was a prostitute or actress but were shocked to find out she was the daughter of a rich and well-known Indiana farmer. This book does a great job of following press reports of the investigation and the shocking events that ended in the murder of a young woman. The author shows how much power and influence the press had back then. Murders were presented as juicy serial stories, and readers were whipped up into such a frenzy that they sometimes formed lynch mobs and carried out their own idea of justice before the trials even happened.

The investigation shown here is not a retrial and is not searching for a new conclusion. It is an account of the investigation, the backgrounds of those involved, and reactions from the family. It also shows how local murders were elevated to national news, and it brings home the degree to which the press got themselves involved in the story. All of the facts are portrayed in such a captivating way that you will be spellbound. I read it in one sitting. Robert Wilhelm really has a talent for relating facts in an interesting way and transporting the reader back to that time and that culture. True crime readers should not pass this one up.

I received a free copy of this book via Reedsy Discovery. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.


Robert Wilhelm is the author of Wicked Victorian Boston (History Press, 2017), The Bloody Century: True Tales of Murder in 19th Century America (Night Stick Press, 2014) and Murder and Mayhem in Essex County (History Press, 2011), a history of capital crimes in Essex County, Massachusetts from the 1600s to the turn of the twentieth century. He blogs about historical true crime at Murder by Gaslight ( and The National Night Stick ( Robert lives and works in Boston, Massachusetts.




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13 thoughts on “Self-Published Saturday: So Far From Home: The Pearl Bryan Murder”

    1. If you like true crime I also recommend watching The Thing About Pam if you haven’t already. It’s about the manipulative murderer Pam Hupp and it’s 6 episodes. So fascinating. Renee Zellweger stars but they have her so made up I didn’t recognize her.

      Liked by 1 person

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