47. – 560.) The Murder Room by Michael Capuzzo – When I started reading I thought it was a work of fiction featuring a unique trio (William Fleisher, Richard Walter and Frank Bender) who lead the formation of the Vidocq Society – an assembly of the best crime solvers in the world. It did not feel like fiction with the constant references to real detectives, profilers and lawyers. Then there were photos of the dynamic trio and photos related to some of the cases. At that point I thought it was non-fiction though I felt puzzled I had never heard of the Vidocq Society. There was enough ambiguity that I went online after completing the book to confirm it was not an elaborate ruse. The net confirmed there is a real Vidocq Society. The book is a mélange of fiction and non-fiction that on television would be described as a docudrama. I prefer either fiction or non-fiction. Having real people carrying on conversations and expressing their thoughts blurs the boundaries too much for me. For non-fiction I prefer narrative and actual quotes. Turning to the book Fleisher (polygraph expert), Walter (psychologist profiler) and Bender (forensic sculptor) are a fascinating cast of characters. They were portrayed as larger than life masterminds. Yet many of their coups were not the result of brilliant insights. Numerous cases already had a primary suspect who was ultimately proven the criminal. Their participation brought the focus to the suspect that should already have been there. An example was the Scott Dunn case where the live-in girlfriend, Laetisha Hamilton, was always the only logical suspect. Walter’s involvement convinced local police to concentrate on her when they should have always been after her and her new boyfriend. Walter’s dogged persistence in having the blood soaked bedroom walls and floor substitute for a body to comply with Texas law was important but his pivotal role did not come as a profiler. There were very few cases when the Society came identified an approach or suspect other than the primary existing suspect. The Society would confirm logic. The involvement of the characters’ personal lives did make the book more interesting. I still have difficulty seeing profilers as important in solving a crime. By the time all the information is assembled that is needed for a profile there will already either be a logical suspect or the profile quite vague. It is a well written book. (Dec. 25/10)
- Bill Selnes
- Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
- I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.