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News :: Author discusses 'Skull in the Ashes' at Vinton library
· 10:21am October 7th, 2013
More than 40 area residents gathered in the Vinton library on Thursday to hear more about one of Benton County’s most famous crime cases.
Author Peter Kaufman discussed his book, “Skull in the Ashes,” which tells of how Walford businessman Frank Novak committed a murder, then tried to make it look like he himself had died in the fire so his wife could collect $27,000 in insurance money. But local investigators soon realized his deception, and soon detective Red Perrin was chasing Novak all over the U.S., and even into Europe, before tracking him down in Alaska.
Kaufman said he had been living in Alaska, researching a book on the Klondike Gold Rush, when he came across the story of a detective tracking down a murderer. After finishing that first book, the author then turned his attention to the Iowa case. The book is the result of six years of research and writing.
Kaufman answered questions from the audience and signed books. He said that Novak had changed his name and appearance, and seemed confident he had gotten away with his crime. But the detective – hired by one of the life insurance companies – overcame many obstacles to apprehend him. After being captured, Novak was convicted, but then paroled in 1911.
The book is now available at the library.
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