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Book talk: ‘Dying to Love Amanda’ is based on ‘94 case

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Dying to Love Amanda Dolores Clay

The cover of Dying to Love Amanda by Dolores Clay of Cuyahoga Falls says the book was “inspired by true events.”

True and tragic. Clay has adapted into fiction a heartbreaking, complicated 1994 Akron murder case, and sticks close to the facts surrounding Theresa Railing, a secretary who’d broken up with her boyfriend Russell Lee Pruitt and began seeing Chad Dunham, a nice younger man who treated her better. The three ended up dead, a fourth man went to prison.

The fictional story is framed by the recollections of Annette DeAngelo, an ambitious, brassy Cleveland Tribune reporter, who was slightly acquainted with Mike DeWitt (the Pruitt character). He’s told her about his new girlfriend, a woman named Amanda Rivers. Mike is controlling and manipulative. He persuades Amanda to move into a Weathervane Commons apartment with him, and then to quit her job in Macedonia for another closer to home, though she likes her job just fine.

When Amanda is finally fed up with Mike’s shenanigans, she moves out, and his instability increases into violence. It’s a sad reminder that this kind of thing happens all the time, but the difference in this story is the third man — whom Clay has named Kenny Douglas — a down-and-out family friend who’s pledged to protect Amanda, but whose obsession with her may make him as dangerous as Mike.

Dying to Love Amanda (244 pages, softcover) costs $15 from online retailers. Dolores Clay attended Kent State University.

Politics and conspiracies

Another novel “based on actual events” is Murky Waters by former Akron resident J. Barry Mitchell. The story of a private investigator who takes on a routine assignment and finds himself involved in a far-reaching conspiracy, Murky Waters is a complex political thriller.

The investigator is Marc James, who’s asked to look into some chemicals missing from a manufacturing site. As he’s scrutinizing the company’s financial background, he finds an investor who might have some ties to weapons dealers. The company owner is worried about being implicated. There are corpses and disturbing interviews with individuals who were subjected to torture.

Murky Waters (308 pages, softcover) costs $14.95 from J. Barry Mitchell is a graduate of Buchtel High School and attended Kent State University, and earned a master’s degree in education from the University of Florida.


Akron-Summit County Public Library (Green branch, 4046 Massillon Road) — Beacon Journal columnist Mark J. Price discusses and signs his book The Rest Is History: True Tales From Akron’s Vibrant Past, 6:30 p.m. Monday.

Cuyahoga County Public Library (Parma-Snow branch temporary location during construction, 1700 Snow Road) — Sharon Kreighbaum, author of Is Your House Overweight? Recipes for Low-Fat Rooms, talks about and signs her book at 7 p.m. Monday. Registration requested; call 216-661-4240.

Mac’s Backs (1820 Coventry Road, Cleveland Heights) — Robert Sberna, author of House of Horrors: The Shocking True Story of Anthony Sowell, will discuss his book at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

Medina County District Library (Buckeye branch, 6625 Wolff Road, Medina) — Historian Dan Ruminski discusses his book (with Alan Dutka) Cleveland in the Gilded Age: A Stroll Down Millionaires’ Row, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

Cuyahoga County Public Library (Warrensville Heights branch, 4415 Northfield Road) — Edgar Award nominee (for Black Water Rising) Attica Locke, author of the Louisiana-set suspense novel The Cutting Season, talks about and signs her work at 7 p.m. Thursday. Reservations a must; call 216-464-5280.

Yoga Lounge (89 First Street, Hudson) — Terry Gordon, author of No Storm Lasts Forever: Transforming Suffering Into Insight, is the guest at a workshop, 8 p.m. Thursday. The cost is $10; reservations required. Call 330-653-3377 or the Learned Owl Book Shop, 330-653-2252.

Learned Owl Book Shop (204 N. Main Street, Hudson) — Jeri Holland, author of Haunted Akron, Murder & Mayhem of Akron and Summit County and Memories of an Akron Christmas, appears at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Cuyahoga County Public Library (Strongsville branch, 18700 Westwood Drive) — Strongsville author Cinda Chima discusses and signs The Crimson Crown, final book in the Seven Realms teen fantasy series, 3 p.m. Saturday. Registration requested; call 440-238-5530.

— Barbara McIntyre

Special to the Beacon Journal

Send information about books of local interest to Lynne Sherwin, Features Department, Akron Beacon Journal, P.O. Box 640, Akron, OH 44309 or Event notices should be sent at least two weeks in advance.