Maj. Bruce Jordan knows a thing or two about murder.
As a detective and head of the Criminal Investigations Division for the Fayette County, Ga., Sheriff's Department, Maj. Jordan deals with homicide every day. So it would be reasonable to assume that once he retired his gun and badge for the evening, the last thing he would want to think about is murder and mayhem.
But that is exactly what he does.
Maj. Jordan has written two books that place murder cases from Georgia's history under the microscope and offer a detective's analysis of the crimes and the investigations that followed. His first, Death Unexpected, was published in 1997 and concentrated on cases that took place in Fayette County. His most recent work, Murder in the Peach State, looks at cases from around the state, beginning with Atlanta's infamous Leo Frank/Mary Phagan case in 1913 and finishing up with a 1991 murder in Griffin.
Maj. Jordan said the appeal of writing about murders stems from the freedom it allows him, freedom he may not exercise in his professional life.
"When I am preparing a case for trial, I can't give my opinion," he said. "This allows me to give my perspective on these cases and their subsequent investigations."
During the writing of Murder in the Peach State, Maj. Jordan said, he sometimes found himself overwhelmed. While putting words on paper was simple enough, the mountains of research material he had to sift through were daunting at times. He had so much information on one case that he briefly considered making it a book of its own.
"Yeah, the chapter on the Columbus stocking strangler," he said. "It was the second story I wrote, and it just kept unraveling and unraveling. I would have done it, too, but I had already spent so much time on the Leo Frank case that I felt I had to continue with this book."
Books recounting the sordid details of a grisly homicide have always been popular. Maj. Jordan said he believes the appeal comes from a very primal place in the human psyche.
"I think books like mine appeal to the survivalist instinct," he explained. "We want to know what people did wrong so that we can avoid their mistakes and avoid becoming victims. We also like to believe we are smarter than the victims and the criminals and that we would never follow in their footsteps."
A family man with a full-time career in law enforcement, Maj. Jordan said finding time for writing is still a challenge for him. In fact he said, it still sometimes surprises him that he has stumbled into this second career.
"I'm not one of those people who felt for my entire life that I had writing in me," he said. "In fact, five years ago, if you had told me I should write a book, I'd have told you that you were crazy, that I didn't have the time."
Maj. Jordan said he was moved to write these stories because he felt they needed to be saved.
"I think these are things that people need to know about," he said. "It's important to realize just how far people can go out of greed or hatred."
Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626.
|By the book|
Title: Murder in the Peach State
Author: Bruce Jordan
Publisher: Midtown PublishingThe basics: 304 pages, $24, hardback, available at Books-A-Million and amazon.com