Hazardous to My Health – The Marlboro Man I Knew is a horror story of the worst kind — the true kind. Most readers cannot envision what it’s be like to be held as a hostage girlfriend/wife by a man whose moral compass is so impaired the needle has fallen off. Marcia N. Hill experienced it.
Claude Hall did an outrageous thing; he had a divorced young mother and her two children kidnapped from their Hawaii home and moved to another location in Hawaii to use as his surrogate family. Actually, we don’t know why he did it, which makes his actions all the creepier.
Hall was a successful, “connected” nightclub owner, a former “Marlboro Man” with celebrity friends. He was also a sadistic, wife-beating, coercive monster with a taste for stomach-turning sex.
For the sake of her life and her children, Marcia Hill submitted to brutal beatings and humored his sexual fantasies (although she couldn’t comply and was viciously beaten for “disobedience”). At times they lived in dream houses; at others they were quartered in hovels. Hill’s movements were restricted, and she was watched at all times.
Hill suffered broken bones from head to toe; doctors begged her to report the abuse to the police. Ironically, she had and nothing was ever done. In Nevada, a police officer told her that the cops had been advised “hands off” Claude Hall. A suicide attempt left her very sick, but still alive.
There were also escape attempts. Once, she and the children were on a plane when some thugs hired by her husband boarded and forced them off. Escape attempts were rewarded with the same vigorous abuse as all other “infractions.” Hill became adept at knowing what would set Hall off, and she would try to placate him, but there were times when he flew into a rage without any provocation.
Somehow, this woman who had been thrown through picture windows and off balconies, beaten with a tire iron, hammered against door frames, and literally shattered in some of the most unimaginable ways managed to survive, protect her children, and finally escape. What amazes most is that she didn’t get a gun and kill the bastard.
Some will find much of what Marcia Hill writes difficult to read, others may find it hard to understand. The apathy of 1970’s law enforcement is especially dismaying. Although it is not mentioned, we assume that there were no laws requiring hospital personnel to report such injuries at that time.
While Hill’s vivid description of the damage, hopelessness, and despair she experienced is mesmerizing (this is a one-sitting book), there is something missing in this story. Most readers would likely be interested in having a little more information on Hall’s life and motivators. It is not the author’s fault, since she knew very little about this man; she didn’t even know how he came to pick her to be his “mate.” In a third person narrative (à la Ann Rule) the reader is usually given more information, but this first person account can only deliver what Marcia Hill saw and experienced. This isn’t a flaw; it just leaves us wanting more.
Many true crime stories are harrowing; few are told by the victims. In this exception, the reader is given a detailed account of how inhuman some people are, as well as the thoughts and feelings of a victim. It’s not easy to read; it’s not fun — but it is a worthwhile exploration of the experience of one woman who represents many.
Bottom Line: Would I buy Hazardous to My Health – The Marlboro Man I Knew? Yes.Powered by Sidelines