Resources for Readers



Behind the Scenes: Real-Life Inspiration for the Book

While set in a fictitious town of Murdoch, Miss., No Motive in Murdoch was inspired by events from Lara and Jan's personal lives—from the opening scene and Southern one-liners to the true-crime murders that took place in their hometown of Clifton, Texas. 

The mother-daughter team spent more than a decade exploring story ideas, brainstorming characters, and reviewing newspaper articles (which Jan kept in a "Jesus box" in her attic). They wanted to write about the untimely and unexplained deaths that took place in Clifton—and do so in a way that honored the women's stories.

It’s why the book was cast in a fabricated town in Mississippi, far removed from the true events. And it’s, in part, why they originally created a pen name. In the book, many of the details of the real-life events were changed, and a whole new set of storylines and characters was created. 

While the book was going to print (and unbeknownst to Lara and Jan), ProPublica Senior Reporter and New York Times Magazine contributor Pamela Colloff was unearthing these events once more. Pamela's brilliantly reported investigative series, "Blood Will Tell," explores what happened in Clifton decades ago.


Explore the articles

Blood Will Tell, Part I: Who Killed Mickey Bryan? (The New York Times Magazine, May 23, 2018)

Blood Will Tell, Part II: Did Faulty Evidence Doom Joe Bryan? (The New York Times Magazine, May 31, 2018)

Editorial: Bad Blood (The New York Times, May 31, 2018) 

Dispatch #1: How I Recreated a 33-year-old Murder Case (ProPublica, June 11, 2018)

Dispatch #2: Here's What Investigators on the Joe Bryan Murder Case Didn't Investigate (ProPublica, June 13, 2018)

Dispatch #3: This Is How I Found Joe Bryan (ProPublica, June 16, 2018)

Dispatch #4: How I Became a Forensic Expert in Five Days (ProPublica, June 19, 2018)

Dispatch #5: How Could Someone Be Convicted on So Little Evidence? (ProPublica, June 21, 2018)


A Guide For Book Clubs

Gather your friends and explore the world of Murdoch together. As a quick page-turner, it's the perfect read for a summertime book club. Use the following guide for inspiration on questions to consider. 

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