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A Death in Belmont | [Sebastian Junger]

A Death in Belmont

In 1963, with the city of Boston already terrified by a series of savage crimes known as the Boston Stranglings, a murder occurred in Belmont, just a few blocks from the house of Sebastian Junger's family, a murder that seemed to fit exactly the pattern of the Strangler. Roy Smith, a black man who had cleaned the victim's house that day, was convicted, but the terror of the Strangler continued.
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Publisher's Summary

In 1963, with the city of Boston already terrified by a series of savage crimes known as the Boston Stranglings, a murder occurred in Belmont, just a few blocks from the house of Sebastian Junger's family, a murder that seemed to fit exactly the pattern of the Strangler. Roy Smith, a black man who had cleaned the victim's house that day, was convicted, but the terror of the Strangler continued.

Two years later, Albert DeSalvo, a handyman who had been working at the Jungers' home on the day of the Belmont murder, who had often spent time there alone with Sebastian and his mother, confessed in lurid detail to being the Boston Strangler.

By turns exciting and subtle, A Death in Belmont chronicles three lives that collide, and are ultimately destroyed, in the vortex of one of the most controversial serial murder cases in America. The power of the story and the brilliance of Junger's reporting place this book on the short shelf of classics beside In Cold Blood and Helter Skelter.

Listen to Sebastian Junger discuss his book on This Is Audible.

©2006 Sebastian Junger; (P)2006 HarperCollinsPublishers

What the Critics Say

  • Mystery Writers of America 2007 Edgar Nominee, Best Fact Crime

"He's a hell of a storyteller, and here he intertwines underlying moral quandaries....This perplexing story gains an extra degree of creepiness from Junger's personal connection to it." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.7 (276 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Overall
4.0 (49 )
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Story
4.1 (52 )
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3 star
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2 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Ian Oxford Mills, ON, Canada 11-04-07
    Ian Oxford Mills, ON, Canada 11-04-07 Member Since 2005
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    "Marvellous history of early sixties America"

    Sometimes an event is a lens into an entire culture. Sebastien Junger's account of a serial killer in Boston, follows the threads into the Deep South, the New England immigrant communities, and the workings of pre-CSI police forces. Junger has a personal connection to the event, since the killer worked briefly for the family. It's an engaging book that doesn't try to solve what is still a partially unsolved case.
    Like Junger's previous book The Perfect Storm, A Death In Belmont follows the case from the first murder through the ninth, and on into several trials. One trial bizarrely ends in the midst of national shock at Kennedy's assassination; felt even more in Boston where Kennedy had been a senator.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eric Washington, DC, USA 05-08-06
    Eric Washington, DC, USA 05-08-06
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    "Intriguing mystery"

    I went into this book cold, no idea who the Boston Strangler was or of any of the murders. The book contains a good deal of background information but for the most part it is interesting and presented well. The story is extraordinary enough to sell itself, but Junger does a good job of laying it out and keeping your attention. A good audiobook lets you escape for a while and this is definitely one of those. Excellent narration work by actor Kevin Conway, too.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steven East Grand Rapids, MI, USA 06-04-06
    Steven East Grand Rapids, MI, USA 06-04-06 Member Since 2006
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    "Well Done"

    This was an excellnt book that broke all the rules that say you must start from your conclusion and then write a book to support that idea. This book takes you on a jorney adn a thought process that is well worht the trip.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathy Redmond, WA, USA 08-12-06
    Kathy Redmond, WA, USA 08-12-06
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    "Completely Intriguing"

    This piece of writing immediately grabs the reader and doesn't let go until the end. Though provoking and well researched.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Angie Kansas City, MO, United States 08-08-06
    Angie Kansas City, MO, United States 08-08-06 Member Since 2005

    Immigration lawyer in Kansas City. I like Character driven dramas, fantasy (monsters, magic and witches oh my!) and coming of age stories. Favs include: The Book Thief, The Game of Throne series, Harry Potter Series, Dresden Files, Nightside series, anything by Neil Gaimen, 100 Years of Solitude.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Very interesting"

    I really enjoyed this book. I thought it was very interesting and well planned. I liked how it jumped back and forth between the story of the Bessie Goldberg murder and the other murders. It really set out a picture of our justice system in that time. The narrator was great.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anna Akron, OH, USA 06-23-06
    Anna Akron, OH, USA 06-23-06 Member Since 2006
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    "Great Job"

    The author did a great job of telling the story, giving the facts and entertaining the reader. I was truely impressed.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda washington, DC, United States 07-23-12
    Linda washington, DC, United States 07-23-12 Member Since 2001
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    "Chilling nonfiction, excellent narration."
    Would you listen to A Death in Belmont again? Why?

    I am a novelist but will soon attempt a foray into true-crime writing. I rarely listen to books more than once. This one would be an exception because it's so loaded with details and other paths to follow.


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    There's nothing more compelling than the truth. This story is true and scary. I was very impressed with the amount of research and personal exploration the author undertook.


    Which character – as performed by Kevin Conway – was your favorite?

    De Salvo.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    TeresaD 06-18-12
    TeresaD 06-18-12 Member Since 2007
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    "Engrossing and fast paced."
    Which scene was your favorite?

    I enjoyed the interview of Sebastian Junger and his description of the depth and breadth of research into the book.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    I was moved by the link to the civil rights and criminal justice issues to the murder of Bessie Goldberg. The descriptions of the Southern home town of Roy Smith gave a good backdrop for his personal history and a glimpse into the post WWII Jim Crow South.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Louis Wantagh, NY, USA 09-04-06
    Louis Wantagh, NY, USA 09-04-06
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    "Could have been better"

    The book started out OK. It was interesting to see if the Boston Strangler was responsible for this murder and not Roy Smith. But it didn't take too long to see the liberal bias this author has against the courts, police and corrections. The usual senario, Smith was abused as a child, uneducated, dicsriminated against, took drugs, got arrested every other week, went to prison, got a college degree, became respectable, etc. Add all that to the fact that he claimed he didn't do it, and somehow he automatically becomes the victim of society. Could have been a good book.

    2 of 16 people found this review helpful
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