Transy murder story highlights first Kentucky Book Fair in Lexington

The unsolved slaying of Betty Gail Brown in 1961 has hung over Lexington for 56 years.

Brown, 19, was found in her car, which was parked in the circle near Transylvania’s Old Morrison, where the elaborate annual Halloween pumpkin display now stands. She was strangled in the driver’s seat, with her feet on the floorboard, a cut on her forehead, and a bra resting on her shoulders and around her neck.

Her killing was technically solved by an arrest, but the case resulted in a hung jury and a mistrial.

Robert Lawson, one of the defense attorneys for defendant Alex Arnold, has written a book attempting to answer some of the questions about Brown’s slaying. “Who Killed Betty Gail Brown? Murder, Mistrial, and Mystery,” is one of the titles available at the 2017 Kentucky Book Fair.

Lawson is one of the 180 writers expected to attend the Kentucky Book Fair’s 36th iteration Nov. 18 at Alltech Arena. This is the book fair’s first year in Lexington, as it was previously held in Frankfort at the Frankfort Convention Center, which is scheduled for demolition early next year. In Frankfort, according the event’s organizers, the book fair drew an average of 3,500 people a year.

Other authors and books expected for the fair include:


▪  Wendell Berry, “The Art of Loading Brush: New Agrarian Writings.” Berry, perhaps the most highly regarded writer in Kentucky, is the author of more than 50 books of poetry, fiction and essays. “The Art of Loading Brush” features a mix of essays and stories, including “The Thought of Limits in a Prodigal Age,” and “The Presence of Nature in the Natural World.”

▪  James Archambeault, 2018 James Archambeault Kentucky Calendar. Archambeault’s photos of the beauties of Kentucky have been popular among Kentuckians for decades.


▪  bell hooks, “Grump Groan Growl.” hooks’ book is described as a “vision of calm with soothing rhythmic text.” Originally from Hopkinsville, hooks is the distinguished professor in residence in Appalachian Studies at Berea College. She will be at the book fair from 1 to 3 p.m.

▪  Guy Mendes, “Kentucky Renaissance: The Lexington Camera Club and Its Community, 1954-1974.” The book provides an account of artists including Ralph Eugene Meatyard, Robert C. May, James Baker Hall and Cranston Richie, and it examines their relationships with writers, publishers and printmakers including Wendell Berry, Guy Davenport, Jonathan Greene and Thomas Merton.

If you go

Kentucky Book Fair

What: One-day event featuring more than 180 local and national authors

When: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Nov. 18

Where: Alltech Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park, 4089 Ironworks Pike

Cost: Parking and admission are free.