Harry N. MacLean

Harry MacLean – Author and Edgar Award Winner


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Author and Edgar Award Winner

Harry N. MacLean

Harry MacLean had a successful career as a lawyer before turning to writing. MacLean graduated from Lawrence University with a degree in psychology. He then attended the University of Denver College of Law, from which he graduated magna cum laude in 1967. He went to work as a trial attorney for the Securities and Exchange Commission in Washington, D.C. He returned to private practice in Denver and accepted an adjunct professor position at the DU College of Law. He was appointed magistrate in the Denver juvenile court, where he served for two years, before becoming First Assistant Attorney General for the Colorado Department of Law. From there, he went to Washington, D.C. as the General Counsel of the Peace Corps in the Carter administration.

Harry MacLean and Brian Deheney

Harry returned to Denver in 1980 and was working as an independent arbitrator and mediator when he read the story of the “vigilante killing” of Ken Rex McElroy, the “town bully,” in northwest Missouri. After reading what he could find on the murder, he drove to the small town of Skidmore, and found the town wrapped up tight around the killers. Over time, MacLean made friends and became accepted in the community. He lived with a prominent Skidmore family, and for the next four years researched the story. “In Broad Daylight” is the tale of McElroy’s reign of terror, his murder, and the ensuing cover up. The book won an Edgar Award, was a New York Times bestseller for twelve weeks, and was made into a movie starring Brian Dennehey, Chris Cooper, Marcia Gay Harden and Cloris Leachman.

“Once Upon A Time” is the story of Eileen Franklin, a California housewife who claimed to recover a repressed memory of her father murdering her playmate twenty years earlier. Based solely on this memory, George Franklin was tried and convicted of the murder. The book chronicles the trial and the story of the highly dysfunctional Franklin family as it played out in court. It also explores the intersection of psychology and the law and the use of repressed memories as evidence in criminal cases. “Once Upon A Time” was selected as a Notable Book of the Year by the New York Times.

Harry has long been interested in the state of Mississippi as the supposed unrepentant heart of the old South. When James Ford Seale was arrested in January 2007 for his role in the kidnapping and murder of two black youths in 1964, he decided to tell the story of the trial and explore the landscape of modern Mississippi. The result is “The Past Is Never Dead.”

Harry continues to live in Denver and work as a labor arbitrator and mediator.