In this superb work of literary true crime - a spellbinding combination of memoir and psychological suspense - a female journalist chronicles her unusual connection with a convicted serial killer and her search to understand the darkness inside us.
"Well, well, Claudia. Can I call you Claudia? I'll have to give it to you: When confronted, at least you're honest, as honest as any reporter.... You want to go into the depths of my mind and into my past. I want a peek into yours. It is only fair, isn't it?" (Kendall Francois)
In September 1998, young reporter Claudia Rowe was working as a stringer for The New York Times in Poughkeepsie, New York, when local police discovered the bodies of eight women stashed in the attic and basement of the small colonial home that Kendall Francois, a painfully polite 27-year-old community college student, shared with his parents and sister.
Growing up amid the safe, bourgeois affluence of New York City, Rowe had always been secretly fascinated by the darkness and soon became obsessed with the story and with Francois. She was consumed by the desire to understand just how a man could abduct and strangle eight women - and how a family could live for two years, seemingly unaware, in a house with the victims' rotting corpses. She also hoped to uncover what humanity, if any, a murderer could maintain in the wake of such monstrous evil.
Rowe reached out after Francois was arrested, and she and the serial killer began a dizzying four-year conversation about cruelty, compassion, and control, an unusual and provocative relationship that would eventually lead her to the abyss, forcing her to clearly see herself and her own past - and why she was drawn to danger.
©2017 Claudia Rowe (P)2017 HarperCollins Publishers
this story definitely left me wanting more. The acts of the guilty are disgusting. however, the attempt to peer into his mind and learn his plight were captivating. the reader and author did a great job. I couldn't give the story a 5 bcuz of the unanswered questions. 😔 But well worth the purchase
Although Ms. Wells writes well, as a listener I felt a tension. She seemed to want the personal insight that comes from cracking the code on herself and someone who behaved with extreme depravity. Yet in the telling she hedged. She did commit to the story even to the point of obsession but the same criticism she had François , lacking self-awareness seems to be something she herself has in short supply. Frustrating.
This could have been two separate books. I tried to give the benefit of a doubt that it was all going to come together. But it did not.
Comparing herself to the victims, sexualizing the killer, and constantly going back to her own life experiences which had no true connection was exhausting.
Would have been better off telling the stories separately. I know more about the writer's life then the victims'. Disappointed.
I finished listening within two days. The intertwining stories of victims, killer, and author/survivor of her own past, had me entranced.
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