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Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite
12/26/75: Twelve Twenty-Six Seventy-Five by Tony Reid is a non-fiction true crime novel surrounding the 1975 murder of Donna Jo Richmond and the man who was convicted of the crime, Oscar Clifton. Clifton is no longer alive but the quest to clear his name and find the real killer of 14-year-old Donna remains. Despite nearly identical 'calling cards' left at the scene of the crime and a timeline that makes Clifton the perpetrator virtually impossible, Clifton was convicted of Donna's rape and murder. He was eventually retried, only to be convicted again. Since then, amateur sleuths who frequently have more success in solving crimes than those paid to do so have been tuning into Reid's podcast and carrying on the search to clear Clifton's name and finally get justice for Donna Jo Richmond and another victim with the same hallmarks of murder, Jennifer Armour.
Tony Reid paints a fascinating picture of horrific corruption in 12/26/75: Twelve Twenty-Six Seventy-Five. In a day and age where technology mostly outpaces the cunning of a murderer, it is difficult to imagine a time when dependence on DNA simply did not exist and we were forced to rely on detectives for answers. Namely, we placed our faith in law enforcement and presumed they were all good. Unfortunately, that is not the case and Oscar Clifton was incarcerated as a result. Reid makes a compelling case in which a dirty cop named Joseph James DeAngelo, who has been convicted of over 50 rapes and over a dozen murders, planted evidence in an investigation he himself led that framed Clifton. Having lived in San Ramon, California, I am somewhat familiar with the notorious Golden State Killer. That said, 12/26/75 is the first book I've read about this case and the first I've heard of Donna Jo Richmond. Reid's writing is excellent and of a quality readers will expect from a podcast journalist. There is zero question whatsoever that a reader can finish the novel without this opinion: Oscar Clifton did not kill Donna Jo Richmond. Very highly recommended.