Compass in the Blood by William E. Coles Jr.

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According to the 1902 newspapers, it was the most bizarre and sensational crime in Pittsburgh history. Katherine Soffel, the wife of the warden of Allegheny County Jail, fell hopelessly in love with one of two brothers awaiting execution in her husband's prison and helped them escape by smuggling in saws and guns. Then, deserting her marriage and four young children, she fled north with the fugitives in a stolen sleigh. The next day, they were apprehended by a posse. The boys were shot to pieces, but Mrs. Soffel recovered from her wound and was sent to prison.

Now, nearly a century later, Dee Armstrong, a college freshman studying to be a TV journalist, is plunged into the middle of startling questions about the news-papers' versions of this crime. Having written an award-winning paper on the Soffel case her senior year of high school, Dee draws the attention of a controversial local TV journalist, who tells her there is evidence that Mrs. Soffel kept a secret prison diary, in which a shockingly different account of the escape is detailed. How would Dee like to help find it? Dee jumps at the chance, convinced it is the opportunity of a lifetime. But as the search proceeds, she encounters unexpected conflicts in pursuit of her chosen career.

Basing his novel on a real crime and the many unanswered questions surrounding it, William E. Coles Jr. offers readers a fascinating mystery overlaid with a penetrating look at human nature.


About William E. Coles Jr.

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William E. Coles Jr., native to western Pennsylvania by spiritual adoption, has taught English with his wife, Janet, at the University of Pittsburgh. Author of many books and articles on the teaching of writing and literature, he has published two previous young-adult novels, Funnybone (with Stephen Schwandt, a Publishers Weekly Pick of the Lists) and Another Kind of Monday (an ALA Best Book for Young Adults).
Published June 1, 2001 by Atheneum. 272 pages
Genres: Young Adult, Children's Books, Literature & Fiction, History, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense. Fiction

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After winning an award for a term paper on the Soffel scandal, Dee Armstrong, a college freshman, submits a copy to prominent television journalist, Harriet “Harry” Bromfield, who recently completed her own investigation of the case.

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