Michael Peterson was a decorated veteran of the Vietnam War, a candidate for mayor and a New York Times best-selling novelist. His wife, Kathleen, was the first woman ever admitted to the Duke University School of Engineering, a brilliant executive and a loving and fun-filled mother - the last woman who one would expect to become a victim in her own home.
When her body was found at the foot of a stairway in her Durham home, Michael Peterson said that she had fallen. When an autopsy proved his story to be a lie, the death of another woman 16 years earlier came under suspicion. He was the last person to see Liz Ratliff before she, too, was found dead at the bottom of the stairs in Germany. These two suspicious deaths painted a dark portrait of a once-respected man.
©2005 Diane Fanning (P)2012 Diane Fanning
It's one thing for a non-fiction author to have a point of view, but this author seems to have an axe to grind. She starts out really well, but about halfway through the author turns so biased and snarky it actually took me right out of the narrative. Part of what's so mind-blowing and fascinating about this story is how impossible it is to know whether Peterson is a multiple murderer or a tragic victim of coincidence and prosecutorial over-reach. I can't think of another case where BOTH sides have such strong circumstantial arguments and neither side has any real proof. So when the author starts sounding like a scornful opposition politican instead of a credible reporter of facts, all I could think of was "why the obvious agenda?" Worse, I kept wondering what REALLY happened, because it didn't feel like I was getting it straight. Ultimately, she didn't convince me of his guilt. If anything her obvious bias made me question her point of view more than it made me question Peterson's innocence.
With all that said, I still finished it. The narration was very good, and there was never a moment when I didn't want to know more. She has a lot of interesting facts and anecdotes, and this truly is one of the most fascinating true stories I've ever come across. But I think she torpedoes herself by making those facts feel like opinions and the fascinating story feel like a closing argument.
If you have never read about this amazing case (or if you have never seen the excellent multi-part documentary on the case called "The Staircase"), you might want to pick up this book despite all that. It's a great read, even if it isn't great factual reporting.
This book was really interesting. It was very hard to put down between listens. The story was infuriating - how some slick operators manage to get away with terrible acts - but told in the very detailed, thorough way I like. The fact that the perp was a NY Times bestselling author made it all the more fascinating.
The book is well written, with no annoying defects that I could see. True-crime lovers will want to add this to their collection.
This is one of the better Dianne Fanning books I have listened to in a while. Story was well written and the narrative well formulated. The performance was also very good. On the critical side, It was quite biased in parts and I wish that there had been an updated section on the developments of this case in the last couple of years. However it presents a good detailed starting point for anyone interested in the case.
Well writen and well narrated. Fanning has a fabulous understanding of police and forensic procedures.
The children, of the victims. All showed incredible insight and clarity under the horrendous circumstances.
Smooth, easy listening, great at portraying indivduals.
Dianne Fanning is one writer I will continue to add to my collection.
It is indeed sad these individuals live and function within our society and affect others in their day to day lives.
Profesionl, hard working woman who travels weekly, enjoys life. My best Friends are Michael and Scooter. Nonfiction books are the best!
Good story, good read. Even though I knew the news story the book gave a lot more detail
Why ever would I do that?
Very interesting crime novel. Saw the story on ID, which I found interesting, but the detail in the book makes it a great story. Highly recommend the narrator!
Note to author: Granniss is excellent - your other narrators ... Cyndee Maxwell and Shelby must have been cheap b/c they are the pits!
Avid reader of history, biography, and true crime.
I tossed up buying this book because I had seen the Staircase and had read something of the case, but Fanning's book provided a lot of detail I hadn't previously come across so it was well worthwhile from that perspective. In the end, it didn't answer the question for me, I still don't know whether this is a case of spectacular coincidence or murder, but it is a fascinating read and I highly recommend it for true crime fans. As for the narration, Rob Granniss has a very pleasant voice, but his rising intonation for statements (in English raising the voice towards the end of a sentence indicates that it is a question) was really irritating.
The book is good, but the narrator's habit of ending sentences like they are a question really drives me nuts. For example: The written sentence may be "They drove to Durham for the holidays." and his narration is "They drove to Durham for the holidays?" This may seem like a little thing, but when it happens constantly out of context it gets VERY annoying.
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