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Torture at the Back Forty: The Gang Rape and Slaying of Margaret Anderson by Mike Dauplaise — book review conclusion

2 July 2011

On the night of violence in question, Margaret Anderson found herself with a friend at the Back Forty, a local biker tavern, doing what everybody else was doing: drinking. A lot. Tongues were alcoholically loosened, and Ms. Anderson is said to have first scuffled with some female patrons in the bar, and later with some of the male biker patrons, apparently angering just about everyone in the process. This is, of course, absolutely no justification for what happened next: Her “friend” abandoned her outside the bar, shoving her away after she’d angered even him, and telling the four eventual suspects something to the effect of “Here you guys can have her, you can f**k her brains out” (49). Shockingly, the “friend” then left her there with the four angry, drunk biker dudes, yet was never charged with any crime!

[Please see Part I of Torture at the Back Forty.]

The four men that were ultimately charged with the crime forcibly took Ms. Anderson back inside the Back Forty. They first attempted to make her perform oral sex, yet none were successful due to their collective inability to achieve erection, most likely caused by their heavy alcohol and drug usage throughout the day (and probably, as explained in the book, throughout their lives). This might have added to their anger at the tiny woman with the big mouth. So they beat her savagely with pool cues that broke and left welts on her legs as seen in her autopsy photo — and they even shoved a billiard ball so high into her vagina that it lodged there and was revealed at autopsy only after an x-ray.

Distressingly, a police officer who had been directed to the bar on a disturbance call earlier drove back by the bar later to check up on the situation. Unfortunately, hindsight is 20/20, and in this case the officer did not observe anything unusual, hence he drove on by. Unbeknownst to him, Ms. Anderson was being mercilessly assaulted on the pool table inside the Back Forty.

That’s all for the crime—if you want to know the rest, you’ll need to read the book, but I will write this: Margaret Anderson was ultimately nearly decapitated and cruelly dumped in the freezing Wisconsin night.

After the excitement of the crime narration, the only real fault in the book itself is that it occasionally seems like a dry resuscitation of facts, which is understandable given the author’s background in journalism — just the facts, ma’am. This does seem to drag the story at certain points; however, for the most part it’s a well-told story. In particular the manhunt was intriguing from an investigative standpoint.

Author Mike Dauplaise did acknowledge that the book is relatively short. When I asked about the book’s brevity, he responded:

I realize 166 pages is relatively short. However, my biggest beef with some authors is their need to add fluff to a book just to get more pages out of it. I like to cut to the chase and not waste people’s time. [Author] Mitch Albom is, like me, a guy with a newspaper background. I like his style in that he doesn’t waste any words. 

The book, while shorter than most standard true crime fare, does effectively capture the essence of the crime, the players, their lifestyles, and the consequences, though Ms. Anderson perhaps could have been fleshed out a little more. For example, there were hints of her suffering from some sort of mental illness that were not fully explored, but this is a minor beef.

While typical true crime fans will notice the book’s layout is different from your average TC book, this only adds to its charm. The publishing company out of Green Bay, Title Town Publishing, LLC,  did a good job when compared to the “big boys.” The editing, and Dauplaise’s writing, are all clean and professional, and one does feel like one is taken along on the subsequent manhunts, as well as being at the scene of the crime.

Having no clue what Dauplaise’s personal opinion is despite reading this book is indicative of nonbiased, good journalism. He clearly performed extensive research — keep in mind this case goes back some twenty-odd years — and was obviously privy to insider information. The only complaint here is that conversations between the players might have been drawn out more so as to add a little more depth to their characterizations.

It’s worth mentioning, too, that it was a bit challenging to keep all the players’ names straight, of which there are many – both direct and collateral. I found myself flipping back to the four mug shots on page 39 to clarify mention of the suspects — either by their real or biker names. But again, this is a relatively minor point.

As for tying up loose ends, Dauplaise does a marvellous job. I am always deeply chagrined when finishing a book with questions left unanswered (and I understand true crime publishers are reluctant to publish such unfinished tales, though it does occasionally happen – presumably when someone is quick to get a book to press before a satisfactory resolution).

Dauplaise answers all his expected queries, and, with a nod to his epilogue, readers can learn where all the players are now. Over 20 years have gone by since the crime, so some of the gang rapists were entitled to their parole as per Wisconsin law at the time of their convictions. Ergo, not all remain in prison today and, incredibly, not all were convicted on a murder rap.

Ready to read? Buy the book on Amazon here.

Grade: *** 1/2 (Out of 5)

Status: Recommended

Author’s Website 
Mike Dauplaise’s blog
Mike Dauplaise on Twitter
on LinkedIn
Bibliography of Mike Dauplaise 

Visit Mike Dauplaise’s author page on Amazon

Biography of Mike Dauplaise 

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Sami K. Hartsfield, ACP is a freelance writer and NALA Advanced Certified Paralegal living in downtown Houston. She has worked as a law firm Webmaster, law firm social media marketer, and ghostwriter for personal injury law firms. She holds a degree in paralegal studies with a 4.0 GPA and a bachelor of science degree in political science, graduating summa cum laude. Sami interned with Texas’ 14th Court of Appeals under Chief Justice Adele Hedges, and completed the University of Houston Law Center’s Summer 2008 Prelaw Institute with a 4.0. A glutton for acquiring new knowldedge–in addition to her national advanced paralegal certification–she has earned six specialty certifications since 2007: Discovery; Trial Practice; Contracts Management; Social Security Disability Law; and Entity & Individual Medical Liability. You can find her on Facebook and e-mail her with questions, comments, or ideas at LegallyBlog@yahoo.com

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One Comment
  1. Very nice page. I just finished mine and I was looking for some design ideas and you gave me a few. May I ask you whether you developed the blog by youself?

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