“Murder On Youngers Creek Road: How Car Thieves, Gamblers, Bootleggers & Bombers In One Kentucky Town Ignited a Murder-For-Hire In Another” by Gary West. Acclaim Press, Sikeston, Mo., 2020, 208 pages, $24.95 (hardcover).
The 1970s was the time nationally of “flower power,” Watergate and disco music. In Kentucky, it was also the time of bombings, murders and corruption.
In his latest book, “Murder on Youngers Creek Road,” Gary West explores in detail one of the most infamous crimes of the time – the bombing murder of Peggy Rhodes in January 1975 in Hardin County.
She was found dead, alongside her favorite horse, in a barn near the Rhodes home on the rural Youngers Creek Road. While at first it was assumed she had been kicked and killed by the horse, it soon became clear that a fairly sophisticated bomb had been placed in the barn days earlier.
Police were initially stumped by the question of who would want the 57-year old grandmother dead. It was eventually determined that the bombing target was Peggy’s husband, Dusty Rhodes.
Dusty Rhodes was a well-known car dealer in the region. Without giving away the resolution to the case, suffice it to say that one of his business deals had gone incredibly wrong.
While the case at the time drew statewide attention, it has never been explored as thoroughly as in West’s book.
The Bowling Green author of 17 books, who writes a regular newspaper column that is carried in the Daily News, spent several years researching the case and additionally was able to glean details from family contacts – from both the victim’s and perpetrators’ side.
The Rhodes murder, however, is just a part of the broader look at the startling era of lawlessness that infected Bowling Green, and other parts of the state, at the time.
As he writes in his introduction: “Bombings in Bowling Green, Kentucky, became old hat ... routine. At the center of it all was whiskey, beer, pinball and slot machines, bookies, bootleggers, and lots of stolen cars.”
The Daily News series last year, “Bootleggers & Bombs,” covered some of the same ground, but not nearly to the extent of West’s book.
Amply illustrated, and full of names, details and anecdotes, “Murder on Youngers Creek Road” is the most comprehensive look at the unique era of crime that earned Bowling Green the nickname of “Little Chicago.”
– Reviewed by Daily News News Director Wes Swietek.