A Beautiful Tribute in True Crime
Review by Kim Cantrell
In 1957, Bobby Hoppe was on a blessed path. Being a local hometown hero after being the star player for Chattanooga’s Central High School, he’d signed on with Alabama’s Auburn University football team.
But just before his departure to Auburn, on July 20, 1957, Hoppe found himself in a dire situation with his sister Joan’s ex-boyfriend, Don Hudson, a disreputable whiskey runner with a reputation for settling disputes with violence.
Staring straight into the barrel of the gun Hudson aimed at him, Hoppe, in a moment of panic, grabbed a shotgun and fired into Hudson’s car.
Not knowing what damage he had inflicted on Hudson and fearing revenge, Hoppe sped off into the night. The next day he learned Hudson had died and police believed Hudson had been murdered in a moonshine business related dispute.
Scared, confused, and ashamed, Hoppe left for Auburn. Trying to be as “normal” as possible, Hoppe would go on to help lead the Tigers to the 1957 National Championship.
Yet that July night was never far from Hoppe’s conscience.
In 1988, the past caught up to the present as a case that had remained unsolved for 31 years was suddenly resurrected.
A Matter of Conscience is Bobby Hoppe’s story. Only weeks before his death in 2008, Bobby Hoppe had given his blessing to his wife Sherry to share his story.
Not only is this book a story of an unsolved murder and the sensational trial that followed three decades later, but it is a tribute to a man admired and loved by so many.
Let me make it clear to those of you who enjoy nothing but the cold, hard facts of criminal cases, A Matter of Conscience doesn’t fit that bill. It is as much a memoir of Bobby Hoppe’s days as a football star as it is about the criminal case.
While over half of this book focuses on trial with the transcripts and newspapers used as references, A Matter of Conscience flows in an easy-to-read narrative that will have readers cheering Bobby on from the stands and praying alongside him in the courtroom.
Seldom do we, as readers of true crime, find such intensity in writing, but Sherry Hoppe, along with Dennie Burke, will have readers feeling a gamut of emotions from the prologue to the very last page.
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