Andrew Morlan was on vacation in Puerto Rico five years ago when he said he struck up a conversation with a man wearing a Detroit Tigers hat. When the stranger found out Morlan was from Metro Detroit, the first question he asked was: “What’s new in the Bashara case?”
It was February 2012. Jane Bashara had been killed only weeks earlier, and the case was starting to make national headlines when Morlan, a former high school social studies teacher and lifelong Grosse Pointe resident, had the encounter with the man in the Tigers hat. “That’s when I realized how big the case really was,” Morlan said.
Morlan said he, like many others in the Pointes, became fascinated with the case from the moment Jane Bashara was reported missing on Jan. 24, 2012. Her husband, Bob, a former Grosse Pointe Rotary Club president who owned rental properties in Detroit and the Pointes, was later convicted of paying his handyman to kill her.
Morlan, 48, attended Bashara’s murder trial gavel-to-gavel, and ultimately decided to write a book about the case. He recently self-published a 290-page book, “Master Betrayal,” which offers details not revealed during the heavy media coverage of the case.
“I had no prior contact with the Basharas whatsoever,” said Morlan, a musician who left teaching in 2014. “I must be the only person in the Pointes who had never heard of him. But I didn’t travel in their orbit.
“At first, I thought the story would be interesting to write a book about, but I had never written anything of that length before,” said Morlan. “But after attending the trial a few times, I got hooked pretty quick.”
The case attracted widespread media coverage, in part because of its connection to the bondage, discipline, sadomasochism (BDSM) lifestyle. But Morlan, who interviewed Jane Bashara’s family, as well as police, residents and others connected with the case, said he didn’t want to focus too much on the salacious aspects of Bashara’s sex life.
“ ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ came out during the same period, and I think that was one reason so many people were intrigued by the case,” Morlan said. “I thought that was a good reason to not focus too much on it. Of course, it was impossible to stay away from it entirely, but I didn’t want to blow it out of proportion, either.”
Although prosecutors contended Bashara’s affinity for kinky sex prompted him to have his wife killed, Morlan said he didn’t subscribe to that theory. “Did BDSM cause him to do this? Personally, I don’t think so. But I didn’t take up a position in the book either way. I just put in the facts and let the reader decide.”
Morlan’s is at least the second book written about the case. Local author Steve Miller in 2015 wrote “Murder in Grosse Pointe Park: Privilege, Adultery and the Killing of Jane Bashara.”
Morlan said the Grosse Pointe angle helped propel the story. “The way it was portrayed in the entertainment media, in (shows like) Dateline NBC, the first thing they always stressed was that it took place in this community with great wealth and privilege,” he said.
“But while it’s true that Grosse Pointe has that element, there’s a lot of Grosse Pointe that doesn’t, particularly in the areas where Bashara owned his real estate. And the Basharas weren’t particularly wealthy. But that angle was played up.
“The media coverage of Jane Bashara turning up missing and then being found dead was largely due to her being from Grosse Pointe,” Morlan said. “Had she been from Detroit, I doubt the coverage would have been as much, at least at first. People like Jane Bashara who live in Grosse Pointe just don’t turn up dead. In my lifetime, I can only remember one or two other murders in 30 years in Grosse Pointe.
“But within a couple days, the story had legs, and when the details started to emerge, the story stood on its own, regardless of where the victim was from,” Morlan said.
“Master Betrayal” was published through Amazon.com, and is available in paperback and in various eBook formats.