• A Deadly Secret

  • The Bizarre and Chilling Story of Robert Durst
  • By: Matt Birkbeck
  • Narrated by: David H. Lawrence XVII
  • Length: 9 hrs and 46 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (170 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The recent arrest in New Orleans and the HBO documentary The Jinx have put Robert Durst back in the headlines. Here, from the first reporter to access Durst's NYPD files, is the authoritative account of a decades-long criminal odyssey - the very book found in Durst's own apartment when it was searched by police.

When medical student Kathie Durst vanished in 1982, she was married to Robert Durst, son of a New York real estate magnate. Kathie's friends had reason to implicate her husband. They told police that Kathie lived in terror of Robert and that she had uncovered incriminating financial evidence about him. But Durst's secrets went even deeper. For decades Kathie's disappearance remained a mystery.

Then in 2001, Durst, an heir to an empire valued at two billion dollars, was arrested for shoplifting in Pennsylvania. When the police brought him in, they discovered that he was a suspect in the murder of Texas drifter Morris Black, whose dismembered remains were found floating in Galveston Bay, and that Durst was also wanted for questioning in the killing of his friend, Susan Burman, in Los Angeles.

Based on interviews with family, friends, and acquaintances of Durst, law enforcement, and others involved in the case, A Deadly Secret is a cross-country odyssey of stolen IDs and multiple identities that raises baffling questions about one of the country's most prominent families - and one of its most elusive suspected killers.

©2015 Matt Birkbeck (P)2015 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"A startling inside look at the politics of police work." (Westchester County Times)  

"Provocative." (CourtTV.com) 

What listeners say about A Deadly Secret

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A compelling story which has yet to end

The Story of Robert Durst, a scion of a fabulously wealthy New York real estate empire, has been extensively covered over the years, most recently by a 5 part HBO television series, but also in numerous magazine articles and newspaper stories. It's a story dating back to the early 1980's, when Durst's beautiful wife Kathie disappeared without a trace, and Durst was soon suspected of her murder... but her body was never found, and Durst was never indicted for the crime.

The story might have ended then, despite the substantial efforts of a New York police detective, who chased the case for several years, amassing many clues, but no definitive evidence. The story was resurrected many years later, with the murder of Durst's close friend Susan Berman... and followed by a bombshell in which Durst was indicted and tried for the murder of a man in Galveston TX, whose body had been surgically disassembled and thrown into Galveston Bay; Durst argued, in his trial, that the killing was in self defense, and amazingly, the jury acquitted him.Along the way, we learn, from the book, about the efforts of Kathie Durst's friends to solve the murder, the self-aggrandizing NY district Attorney who used the case for her political promotion, and the countless witnesses, detectives, and others who contributed clues.

Yet, the story isn't over, and as of this writing, Robert Durst is under indictment for the murder of Susan Berman... and is a suspect in many more killings. He is revealed in the book to be certainly a sociopath, quite possibly a psychopath, and arguably schizophrenic.

Matt Birkbeck's narrative is an interesting read, with a maximum of facts and a minimum of contrived conversation (something I find annoying, in some true crime books), and David Lawrence's narration was crisp and clear. While many readers might find fault with narrators who affect accents to distinguish characters while narrating, Lawrence's 'New York drawl', when speaking for Robert Durst, is particularly well targeted, in my opinion.

I find it especially interesting that the story isn't over. Birkbeck's book was originally published in 2005, but was updated this year, just prior to Durst's indictment for the Berman killing, so it is about as up to date as possible.

7 people found this helpful

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Tour-de-force of Crime without Punishment

True-crime stories most frequently end the with criminal caught and on trial or in jail. In this case, each time Durst is caught he gets away, over and over - he bought justice, and not at Walmart.

On the brighter side, the author did a great job. The cast of supporting characters, including the media itself, is a comic relief. The weeping "best friend" who tries to sell her story . . . the Westchester "DA," hogging the camera . . . the cocaine-fueled 1980s partying . . . all very entertaining. The author did a good job of telling everyone's stories from their point of view while they held the stage. The narrator (17th?) also did an excellent job, creating different voices for the characters. The whole is a tour-de-force of crime without punishment - for the criminal, anyway.

6 people found this helpful

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Couldn't stop listening!

Excellent book! Well written, and hands down the best narration of the books I've listened to on Audible, including some of my repeat listening favorites.

I had no knowledge around the subject of the book going in, but can see how this would be a good one even for those well versed in the many cases involving Durst.

A+ Audible experience.

2 people found this helpful

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Excellent

I could not stop listening to it Well narrated
Would highly recommend you listen

2 people found this helpful

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Captivating!

Having lived in Galveston for many years, I was quite familiar with Robert Durst’s story. However, I could hardly wait to get back to my book everyday because there were so many twists and turns that I didn’t know about.
I’ve always loved Ann Rule as a true crime writer. Now I can add Matt Birkbeck to my ‘go to’ list of great writers. This is the third book I’ve read of his, and I’m hooked!

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

Wow what !!

This story is unbelievable how did this happen. His poor wife and her family what happened

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Compelling Crime

It is amazing how much it is suspected that this man did and he was never prosecuted. I think in the coming years that we may learn a lot more about this crime.
I think this story is a perfect example of how the justice system for the rich is different from the justice system for the poor. There is no way some poor down and out person would have been able to get away with this much crime!

1 person found this helpful

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Wow

That is one crazy story. A must read. Can't believe he got away with that

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Intriguing story! Engaging narration!

I am new to Audible and was hooked from the start of this incredible story read by David Lawrence. I couldn't put the book down it was so masterfully told!

3 people found this helpful

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Interesting but too long

This book was just okay. If you're really interested in this story you'll enjoy it. I got tired of it before finishing, my interest just wasn't there. It became another one of those "who cares?" situations for me.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Emma
  • 01-25-22

Very good!

This book held me in suspense all the way through. I have followed the case and I am watching The Jinx - and this book was excellent for providing extra details. The narrator was also excellent - his Robert Durst voice was - chillingly - spot-on.

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  • Mrs F
  • 03-17-16

Too Long, Too Many Repeated Facts

Having seen The Jinx, a gripping and tragic Documentary I was hoping for more of the same ,I was hoping for too much.


The story was erratic and non cohesive, the only saving grace was the refund option which I will be using. Pfft...