I learned about this book in Sarah Statz Cords article "Prior Misconduct: Historical True Crime Collection Development" in the September 2012 issue of Library Journal.
There are two central characters in The Shooting Salvationist: J. Frank Norris and the Murder Trial That Captivated America by David R. Stokes. Of course, one is identified in the title, the Baptist minister J. Frank Norris, who was once thought to be the heir to the title of "leading fundamentalist in America" after the death of William Jennings Bryan in 1925. The other is the city of Fort Worth, Texas, a former cowtown that was becoming a first class metropolis when Norris led the First Baptist Church, the largest congregation in the nation at the time.
Initially, Ft. Worth was the more interesting of the characters. I enjoyed learning about the city's transformation and aspirations. I have been there and am impressed with its parks, zoo, museums, and central city. The author recounts how the city developed during the first three decades of the twentieth century in setting the scene for a crime that pitted Norris against the Ft.Worth establishment.
Norris felt quite confident in his many campaigns to shape Ft. Worth. He had not only a devoted congregation in the city but also reached conservative Christians in many states through his weekly newspaper, radio station, and high-profile evangelical crusades to cities across the country. He showed no fear in taking on strong enemies, but he risked losing everything when he fatally shot an unarmed opponent who had come to his church office to argue about Norris's threats to the mayor.
In the last part of the book, the author dramatically recounts the media circus and trial following the killing. Would Norris be sent to the electric chair? I won't tell.
Stokes, David R. The Shooting Salvationist: J. Frank Norris and the Murder Trial That Captivated America. Steerforth Press, 2011. 350p. ISBN 9781586421861.