Phil Stanford
Image: Ptown Books

Your new book delves into the 1960 murder of two high school sweethearts. why devote four years to researching a 50-year-old crime? ?

A whole generation grew up talking about the Peyton-Allan case. It was bigger then than Kyron Horman today. This murder caused ?Portlanders to start locking their doors at night.

The Portland you portray is more innocent—and darker. Has the city changed?

The quotient of evil is about the same. Portland was a very rough town. Yet people kind of laughed off a basic level of violence and corruption.

Philip Margolin based his first novel, Heartstone, on this case. Which is better: his fiction or your facts?

There’s room for both. He doesn’t try to solve the case—he read court transcripts and came up with a theory. I don’t think it was correct. I like the facts, but I tried to tell it as a story.

You’re self-publishing this book. Why?

My last book, Portland Confidential, sold about 17,000 books. It was a regional best seller. I got a buck a book. Self-publishing is a much better deal.

After a journalism career, you’ve been working as a private investigator. Is that a growth industry for out-of-work reporters?

There’s limited space out there.

This is your second book on crimes of the past. What’s the fascination?

These stories provide a window into how things really work. It’s important for people to understand the darker side exists. In Portland, more than any place, people pretend it’s an exception to human nature. Well, it isn’t.

Phil Stanford will read from his new book at Powell’s City of Books Nov 11 at 7:30.