True crime book tackles politician’s murder


  Former Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter Glenn Puit definitely has found his niche.
  With “In Her Prime,” Puit adds to his growing list of books that focus on true crimes with a Vegas angle.
  His latest book tackles the murder of Nevada State Controller Kathy Augustine and the subsequent conviction of her husband, Chaz Higgs.
  Higgs was Augustine’s fourth husband, and Puit recounts the shock and concern of Augustine’s family over the politician’s quicky marriage, which occurred just weeks after the death of Chuck Augustine, Kathy's third husband. The family was even more dismayed when they learned Higgs had been Chuck Augustine’s nurse.
  Nevada readers will be familiar with many facts in the book as Puit details Kathy Augustine’s tumultuous political career and impeachment in 2004 for ethics violations. Puit references media reports quoting employees who portrayed Augustine as a bitch and tyrant. At the same time, Puit’s interviews with Augustine’s parents, brother and friends paint a fuller portrait of the woman, who not only was a politician, but a much-loved daughter, sister and mother. Puit goes to great lengths to offer a balanced assessment of Augustine, showing that though she had her faults — including impulsive relationships with men — she was a caring human being who did not deserve to have her life cut short.
  “In Her Prime: The Murder of a Political Star” is probably Puit’s strongest work so far. The book will appeal to true crime fans everywhere but will be of special interest to local readers familiar with the players involved and the bizarre twists and turns of the case.
  From beginning to end, Puit compassionately conveys the story without glossing over Augustine’s flaws. What comes through is the story of a tough, driven woman who sometimes made very bad decisions but who ultimately was a person who loved her family. Puit dedicates the book in her memory. In the author’s note, he goes on to praise her family as the source of Augustine’s success and states his goal in writing the book.
  I’ve spent most of my career in journalism being reminded of the fact that, on a daily basis, terrible things happen to good people, and what happened to Kathy and her family has only reaffirmed that reality of life once again. I hope that in some small way, this book helps to alleviate the pain Kathy’s family has endured, because they never deserved it. This book aims to tell the American public who Kathy really was — not just a politician, but a role model, a loving woman, a good mother, and a murder victim.