Security Breach: The Murder of Tod McQuaid, A Review -
'Not Simply Telling Readers About the Manipulation, Author Makes Readers Feel It.'

Printable copy of this review in Book Review-Bio (Adobe .pdf format)


"Security Breach: The Murder of Tod McQuaid" By Janet Bailey McQuaid; Sterling House Publishers; $14.95; 200 pages

Review by KENDALL BELL Special to The Gazette in Beaufort, South Carolina (Copyright 2004 Used with permission)

Jan and Rog McQuaid can easily recall the happiness of watching their oldest son, Tod, develop a successful security and alarm business in West Virginia. But that happiness quickly turned into despair one day when Jan received a telephone call from Tammy Wilson, one of Tod's employees. Tammy informed Jan that Tod was missing and she seemed truly distraught. But something didn't seem quite right.

Tod hired Tammy, who was down on her luck, although he marked her employment application with the word "maybe" in large letters. There was something about her that caused Tod to wonder whether or not he should take a chance on the young woman. But Tod was the type of person to help others in need so he hired her.

Over the next several days, as the phone calls between Jan and Tammy continued, Jan became aware of inconsistencies in Tammy's stories. It soon became apparent to Jan that Tammy knew more than she was willing to admit. So Jan began an investigation of her own. And what she learned in the next few weeks became the basis for her book, "Security Breach: The Murder of Tod McQuaid."

"Security Breach" gives readers an inside look at the pain and frustration of not knowing whether your missing child is alive. And that pain is the same regardless of whether the child is 5 or 35 years old.

Jan tells the story as only a mother who has "been there" can. It is the story of being sadistically manipulated by a trusted employee. And Jan doesn't simply tell readers about the manipulation, she makes readers feel it.

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When Tammy called to tell Jan authorities had found Tod's body, Jan noticed that Tammy didn't seem distraught. Instead, there was an odd coldness and callousness in her voice.

But it wasn't until police told Jan not to release any more information to Tammy that Jan's worst fears were truly confirmed. When Tammy is charged in Tod's death the real questions begin: But why was Tod killed? And how many others were involved? How could this happen? These are only a few of the many questions the McQuaid family asked themselves.

As the story unfolds, Jan gets answers to many of her questions. But many more will go unanswered forever.

Still, Jan recounts the experience of having to listen as lies about Tod were told during court testimony. Somehow she endured the pain and suffering to see that Tod's killer or killers were brought to justice. She walks readers through many of the things she and her family were forced to endure as victims.

"Security Breach" is a compelling read for people who like to read about true crime. It's not a pleasant story. But it's a story that Jan knew she had to tell. Because only by exposing people such as Tammy Wilson can the world become a little bit safer place for everyone.

A touching element near the beginning of the book is a letter that Tod's daughter, Elizabeth, then 11, wrote several years after he died. Near the end of the book is a beautiful poem the then 17-year-old Elizabeth wrote. And this is what makes "Security Breach" different. This isn't just a story about a murder. It's a story about what a family has to endure and how the pain continues beyond the present generation. It's a story about coping and accepting life even when it isn't fair.

"Security Breach" is a story that will keep readers turning the pages. This is a book that readers will remember for a long time.


Kendall Bell is a member of the Southern Book Critics Circle.

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