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The Spider and the Fly Audiobook

The Spider and the Fly: A Reporter, a Serial Killer, and the Meaning of Murder

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Publisher's Summary

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

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (101 )
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3.9 (86 )
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4.2 (91 )
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Performance
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  •  
    William 04-13-17
    William 04-13-17 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    "Very intriguing"

    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

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Smoochagator 06-30-17 Member Since 2016
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    3
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    "A Meditation on Humanity"

    This book is not for the faint of heart, but I don't suppose that's a surprise given its subject matter. Rowe's correspondence with Francois is interwoven with stomach-turning descriptions of his crimes and painfully pathetic sketches of the women he murdered. Even more uncomfortable (if that's possible) are the moments Rowe spends teasing apart her own past and present, examining the things that simultaneously propel and tether her. Her blunt fascination with her penpal's crimes (and other disturbing stories she covers as a journalist) is never pretty, and she doesn't want it to be. She doesn't defend or explain it. She merely describes it, and in time, finds a way to be merciful with Francois, her family, her former lovers, and herself.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patricia Gonzalez 06-26-17 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wow"

    It was very interesting to hear the other side to the story about the murders.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Annie R South Salem, NY USA 06-18-17
    Annie R South Salem, NY USA 06-18-17 Member Since 2016

    Whiney Teeange Critic

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    3
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    Story
    "Interesting except for the white guilt"

    Rowe is a very skilled writer and it's a compelling book. But I could have done without her annoying insertions of her liberal white guilt. It's an uninteresting and unproductive way to discuss the racialized aspects of this story. Also the narrator does a terrible I guess...attempt at a black accent? When she's reading as Kendall. It's pretty cringe worthy. Overall, a good true crime type memoir with some faults.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    E. Hill 06-16-17
    E. Hill 06-16-17
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    5
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    Story
    "I had to stop listening..."
    What would have made The Spider and the Fly better?

    The story was slow, bumpy and not easy to listen to. The flow of the story could have been much improved. I could not even get through to the interesting parts of the story, since the first third was so dense.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    I was eager to hear the meaty story, as was previewed on the Sword and Scale podcast. I have since stopped listening to the podcast (for other reasons) and was hoping this book was going to live up to expectations. Not sure if it would have, since I didn't read that far.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amber Higgins FAYETTEVILLE, AR, US 06-01-17
    Amber Higgins FAYETTEVILLE, AR, US 06-01-17 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "i found this book hard to make it thru."

    this book was slow and painful to listen to. The narration was slow. overall not great.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    PDubya 05-23-17
    PDubya 05-23-17 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    9
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    "Disturbing"
    What would have made The Spider and the Fly better?

    Less graphic.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Claudia Rowe again?

    Not likely.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Cassandra Campbell’s performances?

    Sure.


    What character would you cut from The Spider and the Fly?

    All of them.


    Any additional comments?

    I listened to this book for about 30 mins and then turned it off. It was disgusting and not what I would term "chilling". Waste of a credit.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    COJoebro Olympia, WA 03-18-17
    COJoebro Olympia, WA 03-18-17 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Opaque. Shorter Treatment Called For"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Megan G. Becker Austin, TX 03-01-17
    Megan G. Becker Austin, TX 03-01-17 Member Since 2017
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    "I was obsessed, just like the author!"

    I finished listening within two days. The intertwining stories of victims, killer, and author/survivor of her own past, had me entranced.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Katy Neveau 03-22-17
    Katy Neveau 03-22-17 Member Since 2016
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    11
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    "Disrespectful to the victims and their families"

    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.

    0 of 3 people found this review helpful

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