“Then No One Can Have Her” by Caitlin Rother is a true crime tale of love gone wrong, very wrong. The novel recounts the murder of Carol Kennedy, and Rother takes readers step-by-step through the progress of finding her murder. Her ex-husband, Steven DeMocker, of course is first on the list of suspects, but there are others as well. Kennedy’s family is devastated by her death, and immediately feels DeMocker is guilty. The couple’s children and DeMocker’s family do not share that opinion.
The investigation seems doomed from the start. DeMocker has an alibi, but not an air-tight one; in fact, it is riddled with inconsistencies. His less than perfect past also makes his situation worse. However, the various law enforcement agencies seem to stumble at every turn. The case is based on circumstantial evidence, but there is a general mishandling of evidence by everyone. The investigation into Kennedy’s murder drags on and on, and strains the family’s finances. It is six years before DeMocker is brought to trial.
The problematic aspect of true crime is that readers know “who did it” before reading. Rother makes up for that “lack of suspense” by expanding readers’ knowledge of the crime. The exploitation, the deception, and the misery that encompasses this situation are recounted in great detail. Rother draws readers into the story with details of each participant, both in the past and the present.
“Then No One Can Have Her” does not have a happy ending; there is really no “happily ever after” in true crime. Steven DeMocker was sentenced to life in prison for murdering his wife, but the others involved will never recover from the trauma he inflicted on them.