• A Talent to Deceive

  • The Search for the Real Killer of the Lindbergh Baby
  • By: William Norris
  • Narrated by: Tom Beyer
  • Length: 11 hrs and 52 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (5 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Charles Lindbergh was known for many things during his lifetime. He was a famous aviator, the first person to fly nonstop across the Atlantic Ocean, winner of the Orteig Prize, and a young American hero. But despite his honors and achievements, his name will forever be associated with the infamy of one of the trials of the century. The Lindbergh Kidnapping.

On a dreary March night, Charles Lindbergh's 20-month-old son was abducted from his crib. The baby's kidnapper left behind muddy footprints, a broken ladder, and a ransom note demanding $50,000. Weeks later, Charles Lindbergh Jr. was found...dead. Everyone was a suspect in this investigation, even the Lindberghs. After a six-week trial, Bruno Richard Hauptmann was named the ultimate culprit, but he claimed he was innocent even up to his execution day. 

For nearly 100 years, the Lindbergh Kidnapping still remains a major topic of controversy and fascination. A Talent to Deceive uses investigative journalism to dive into evidence ignored by previous investigators in search of the truth. Who really committed the crime? What really happened the night of March 1, 1932? What was the motive to kidnap and murder the Lindbergh baby?

Follow Norris in this history-meets-mystery tale as he performs a thorough investigation to solve the case that will never die.

©2020 William Norris (P)2021 CamCat Publishing

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Interesting, but undermined by author's smugness

The book covers a lot of information, very little of which could be considered new or earth-shattering. Numerous avenues are pursued, mostly as filler, as most lead nowhere. But the overriding impression of the book is that it seems intentionally amateurish, almost petulantly so, as if the author is sparing the listener from just another conventional story of the Lindbergh kidnapping. The author is simultaneously credulous and skeptical of alibis, motives and techniques like polygraphs and handwriting analysis, to the degree which they cleave to, or diverge, from his theories. And he does so with a level of snark which frankly makes it difficult to trust the author's ability to judge information in any way approaching objectively. The attempts at smirking humor detract from the story itself, especially when truly insightful commentary lacks attribution. George Carlin may or may not have originated the idea of how the term "shell shock" has evolved euphemistically over the decades, but it's clear this author hadn't the ability to create it himself. In addition, it's telling that a major researcher declined to be identified, as they don't agree with the conclusions of the book. To his credit, the author does acknowledge it, if only in passing.

The narrator robustly expresses the snark as intended, and did accents, seemingly as directed. It makes sense that the Hauptmann quotes benefit from a German accent, but some others don't come off all that relevant. Similarly when reading a transcript of an American male interviewing a British female, there's no real need to identify "Q" and "A" after the first exchange.

The book has some interesting parts, but should have been better. It's the kind of story one wants to be excited about, but just wishes it had a better storyteller.