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A fatal collision of three lives in the most intriguing and original crime story since In Cold Blood. In the spring of 1963, the quiet suburb of Belmont, Massachusetts, is rocked by a shocking sex murder that exactly fits the pattern of the Boston Strangler. Sensing a break in the case that has paralyzed the city of Boston, the police track down a black man, Roy Smith, who A fatal collision of three lives in the most intriguing and original crime story since In Cold Blood. In the spring of 1963, the quiet suburb of Belmont, Massachusetts, is rocked by a shocking sex murder that exactly fits the pattern of the Boston Strangler. Sensing a break in the case that has paralyzed the city of Boston, the police track down a black man, Roy Smith, who cleaned the victim's house that day and left a receipt with his name on the kitchen counter. Smith is hastily convicted of the Belmont murder, but the terror of the Strangler continues. On the day of the murder, Albert DeSalvo—the man who would eventually confess in lurid detail to the Strangler's crimes—is also in Belmont, working as a carpenter at the Jungers' home. In this spare, powerful narrative, Sebastian Junger chronicles three lives that collide—and ultimately are destroyed—in the vortex of one of the first and most controversial serial murder cases in America.


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A fatal collision of three lives in the most intriguing and original crime story since In Cold Blood. In the spring of 1963, the quiet suburb of Belmont, Massachusetts, is rocked by a shocking sex murder that exactly fits the pattern of the Boston Strangler. Sensing a break in the case that has paralyzed the city of Boston, the police track down a black man, Roy Smith, who A fatal collision of three lives in the most intriguing and original crime story since In Cold Blood. In the spring of 1963, the quiet suburb of Belmont, Massachusetts, is rocked by a shocking sex murder that exactly fits the pattern of the Boston Strangler. Sensing a break in the case that has paralyzed the city of Boston, the police track down a black man, Roy Smith, who cleaned the victim's house that day and left a receipt with his name on the kitchen counter. Smith is hastily convicted of the Belmont murder, but the terror of the Strangler continues. On the day of the murder, Albert DeSalvo—the man who would eventually confess in lurid detail to the Strangler's crimes—is also in Belmont, working as a carpenter at the Jungers' home. In this spare, powerful narrative, Sebastian Junger chronicles three lives that collide—and ultimately are destroyed—in the vortex of one of the first and most controversial serial murder cases in America.

30 review for A Death in Belmont

  1. 5 out of 5

    aPriL does feral sometimes

    'A Death in Belmont' is guaranteed to be a great book club selection for discussion! In 260 pages it manages to offer several possible topics for a vigorous airing of opinions: 1. A white man, Albert DeSalvo, confessed to a dozen of the rape-strangulation murders of women around the Boston, Massachusetts area from 1963 to 1965. He was sentenced - first to a mental institution, and then later he was moved to a hardcore prison called Walpole. All of the murders had similar clues - rape, and strangu 'A Death in Belmont' is guaranteed to be a great book club selection for discussion! In 260 pages it manages to offer several possible topics for a vigorous airing of opinions: 1. A white man, Albert DeSalvo, confessed to a dozen of the rape-strangulation murders of women around the Boston, Massachusetts area from 1963 to 1965. He was sentenced - first to a mental institution, and then later he was moved to a hardcore prison called Walpole. All of the murders had similar clues - rape, and strangulation, with stockings around the neck tied into a bow. Later, he denied he was who the newspapers had called 'the Boston Strangler' and rescinded his confession. Did he commit murder or not? Was he the Boston Strangler? Should he have got a second chance at another trial? (view spoiler)[All the law had was DeSalvo's confession. (hide spoiler)] 2. A black man, Roy Smith, who was a career criminal, was convicted of the murder of Bessie Goldberg in Belmont, a suburb of Boston. She had been raped and strangled by her stockings, which were wrapped around her neck and tied into a bow. He maintained his innocence until he died. He was in Walpole for part of his incarceration. My thoughts: murders happen in any community every week, as do accidental deaths, but we focus often on The Big Sensational One. People were worried about the attacks of the Strangler (not to mention, ANY black-on-white crime), but at the same time, lots of deaths were occurring in Boston every day that were ignored. 3. Both DeSalvo and Smith were in Belmont the exact same day and time of Goldberg's murder. Smith was hired to clean Goldberg's house, which he did, and after which he said he left. DeSalvo was a few blocks away from Goldberg's house, working as an itinerant construction worker on a building for Sebastian Junger's mother. She told her family DeSalvo scared her. Junger still has a photo taken of himself as a baby sitting on his mother's lap. DeSalvo is standing behind her. 4. During Smith's trial, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Racial tensions in America were explosive. Malcolm X and Martin Luther King were in the news for advocating for civil rights. Smith's jury was all male and all white. My thoughts: Moving trials to a distant calmer locale and/or delaying trials, which might help in getting a fairer trial done, instead often causes local citizens to go red-eyed with fury and local law to go mean with insulted rage. Juries should have women and people of color, not just white men. 5. The newspapers had printed every detail of the Boston Strangler's murders previous to the capture of both men. My thoughts: Freedom of the Press and Right-to-Know can make the job of the police and the courts harder to do within our legal system. Junger explains how the arrests of both men happened, what kind of lawyers each had, the laws regarding murder and evidence at the time, and how their trials proceeded. He also describes their childhoods. Smith's family were poor southerners during the time lynchings were common in the South and black men were being tortured in prisons not fit for animals much less humans, but the bastard (my words) who called himself DeSalvo's father was a sexual sadist. Smith became a criminal because he was poor and an alcoholic, and he was rotating in and out of horrific Southern institutions. Under the influence of alcohol, he tried to kill a person. DeSalvo, well, he was a crazy person. The question is what kind of crazy? The kind who confesses to crimes he didn't commit? The kind who was delusional? Or the kind who was a psychopathic serial killer? Besides the obvious debate of who actually killed Goldberg, Junger is also researching the questions of racial discrimination and bias in law and in society through these two murder trials. In my mind the role of poverty, lack of education and opportunity, and cruel childhoods, as well as substance abuse can be added to the discussion. Plus, last but not least, is how dismal the American legal system might be at determining anyone's guilt or innocence under certain circumstances such as when the entirety of the physical evidence is circumstantial, and deciding on an answer is based on lawyers' spin and jury prejudices and guesses at what seems possible. Personally, for me, if there is a discernible pattern of behavior noted and that is all one has that is remotely factual, I'd go with using the typical behavior of a person's life if I am judging a person I know. However, if I was on a jury that had nothing but circumstantial evidence before them, it would be hard for me to vote to convict someone officially to prison for life, or with a possibility of the death penalty if convicted. I would hate sending someone to hang by the neck because a witness saw the defendant, who had a past of criminality, walking two blocks away from a crime into a store to buy beer, for example, and there was no physical evidence whatsoever that he was at the crime scene. However, if I was not on a jury, but simply talking and gossiping with people at work, I might think and say this fellow could have done it because it was his kind of crime. For the record, I have been on a jury. No matter how much I adore Batman, no matter how valid the case may be for a vigilante response, a honest and timely trial which follows the rules rigidly without corruption of any kind (unlikely as it may be) is probably the best option we have as a society. However, I'm awfully happy there are now lawyers and NGOs who are taking second and third looks at convictions, along with more juries with commingled mixed races and sexes. But I know, too, even when absolutely certain evidence shows up later which exonerates a convicted individual, shockingly, all it may mean is BOTH the innocent defendant and the actual criminal can both end up serving full sentences for a crime everyone knows only one of them committed! It is CrAzY that our legal system can continue to keep an innocent person locked up even after someone else has been shown to have committed the crime! This is a serious wrong in our legal system which apparently no one knows how to fix?!? Gosh, this subject depresses me.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    Not completely sure I understand the low ratings for this book. I will assume they are from regular readers of the True Crime genre. I think the main difference this book has from other True Crime novels--and it is certainly a perk--is that the author is not writing this book third person. He is not simply reporting a compilation of events and articles. The book is completely autobiographical but it's so thorough on the research you are often surprise when the first person "I" comes up every now Not completely sure I understand the low ratings for this book. I will assume they are from regular readers of the True Crime genre. I think the main difference this book has from other True Crime novels--and it is certainly a perk--is that the author is not writing this book third person. He is not simply reporting a compilation of events and articles. The book is completely autobiographical but it's so thorough on the research you are often surprise when the first person "I" comes up every now and again. Here is how race and the Boston Strangler personally affected Junger's family. I enjoyed the highlighted moments in history: the JFK assassination, the different viewpoints in Martin Luther King vs Malcolm X, the beginning of the war in Vietnam, the advancement of equal rights among the races...this was not solely about the Boston Strangler. I will return to this author solely based on this book and i highly recommend this (audio)book to any True Crime, American historian or biography buff. Junger did a great job here.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mara

    Sebastian Junger is a great non-fiction writer in any circumstance, but he's especially well-suited to cover the Boston Strangler story. Why? Well, because the man who was in all likelihood the culprit of said stranglings was also working on an addition to his family's house in 1962 in Belmont, Massachusetts. At the very least, the fact that his mother, Ellen, was home alone with this man on multiple occasions is a creepy anecdote. Of course, Junger's family connection to the case serves onl Sebastian Junger is a great non-fiction writer in any circumstance, but he's especially well-suited to cover the Boston Strangler story. Why? Well, because the man who was in all likelihood the culprit of said stranglings was also working on an addition to his family's house in 1962 in Belmont, Massachusetts. At the very least, the fact that his mother, Ellen, was home alone with this man on multiple occasions is a creepy anecdote. Of course, Junger's family connection to the case serves only as a starting point for an examination of a larger story (or stories). The first is of the murder of Bessie Goldberg in Belmont in 1963, a murder that closely fit the pattern of "the strangler," but for which (through an interesting series of events- read the book for these) an Oxford, Mississippi man, Roy Smith , was ultimately convicted. While there's no hard and fast conclusion that exonerates or condemns Smith, his story is, nevertheless, inextricably entwined with a closed-circuit and fallible legal system. However, it wasn't Roy Smith who was working in the Junger residence circa 1962, that man was Al DeSalvo . The DeSalvo story (which Junger covers reasonably well) is one you can read in any number of volumes on "the Boston Strangler," as he confessed to those murders. What Junger examines, though, is his potential involvement in the Belmont murder for which Smith was convicted. As far as true crime goes, this was a reasonably good book. While Junger undoubtedly points out some "miscarriages of justice" and certainly had me on board with his conclusion, his reasoning, at times, seemed flawed. In furthering his own case, Junger uses some of the same tautological arguments of innocent men acting innocent etc. that can result in false convictions; though, my take on that is heavily influenced by my recent reading of Mistakes Were Made (but not be me) . Junger did a great piece for Vanity Fair, "Alone with the Strangler," that covers some of the more interesting pieces of the book- so if this sounds more six pages worth of interesting to you than 288, go check that out.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jill Hutchinson

    I have read Junger's other blockbuster, The Perfect Storm, and liked his style of writing. When I saw this book, which I normally wouldn't have picked up, it was his name that prompted me to give it a try. I was not disappointed. The story plays out at several levels and involves the author's family peripherally in the Boston Strangler case which dominated the headlines in the early 1960s. Albert Desalvo, who finally confessed to being The Strangler, worked as a handyman at Junger's home when Jun I have read Junger's other blockbuster, The Perfect Storm, and liked his style of writing. When I saw this book, which I normally wouldn't have picked up, it was his name that prompted me to give it a try. I was not disappointed. The story plays out at several levels and involves the author's family peripherally in the Boston Strangler case which dominated the headlines in the early 1960s. Albert Desalvo, who finally confessed to being The Strangler, worked as a handyman at Junger's home when Junger was just a toddler. A woman who lived in the neighborhood was murdered under similar conditions as the victims of the Strangler and the author decided to follow-up the family brush with murder to set the record straight since another man spent the rest of his life in prison for that crime. Was the neighbor really a victim of the Strangler, was Desalvo really the Boston Strangler, or was the convicted man, Roy Smith, really the killer of the neighbor? These are all the scenarios that Junger explores in this true crime best seller although I'm not sure he really convinces the reader or himself for that matter, of any of the answers. That is the only weak part of the book........the final opinion is never really given and Junger seems to change his mind several times during the story. Regardless, it is a good true crime story and if you like the genre, I would recommend it.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Erica Clou

    This is a really interesting and responsible account of one murder that took place during the reign of the Boston Strangler, written by the author of The Perfect Storm. Everyone should read this book: 1) as a reminder not to open the door to a stranger, ever, seriously, I don't; 2) to understand one account of how the grinding wheels of the legal system can trap a (potentially?) innocent person; 3) how systematic racism can be quiet, insidious, harmful to all, and deadly to many; 4) because the This is a really interesting and responsible account of one murder that took place during the reign of the Boston Strangler, written by the author of The Perfect Storm. Everyone should read this book: 1) as a reminder not to open the door to a stranger, ever, seriously, I don't; 2) to understand one account of how the grinding wheels of the legal system can trap a (potentially?) innocent person; 3) how systematic racism can be quiet, insidious, harmful to all, and deadly to many; 4) because the book is riveting generally.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kurt Schuett

    A Death in Belmont Junger, Sebastian (2009-05-30). A Death in Belmont. W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition. Reviewed by Kurt C. Schuett and posted on Great Britain's #1 Horror Site, Ginger Nuts of Horror on 3-18-2015 Sebastian Junger performs a rear-naked chokehold, also known as a “blood choke,” on his readers by restricting the vital fluid to their brains in A Death in Belmont. But instead of pinching his readers’ carotid arteries, he squeezes their emotional, moral, and psychological veins in A Death in Belmont Junger, Sebastian (2009-05-30). A Death in Belmont. W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition. Reviewed by Kurt C. Schuett and posted on Great Britain's #1 Horror Site, Ginger Nuts of Horror on 3-18-2015 Sebastian Junger performs a rear-naked chokehold, also known as a “blood choke,” on his readers by restricting the vital fluid to their brains in A Death in Belmont. But instead of pinching his readers’ carotid arteries, he squeezes their emotional, moral, and psychological veins in this deeply descriptive, and disturbing, work of narrative nonfiction. The series of murders highlighted in and around the City of Boston in the 60s, earmarked by increasingly dramatic staged sexual assaults and post-rape humiliations, serves as the book’s catalyst. Most readers will be shocked to discover the perverse arrangement of victims as the killer’s blueprint maintains consistency through ninety percent of the killings. One of this book’s strengths is its descriptive fact checking; Junger and his editors at W.W. Norton spared no expense in regard to their collective and expansive foot-noted road map of the Boston Strangler saga. The story’s rich treasury of details is somewhat reminiscent of Caputo’s In Cold Blood. Even as the aforesaid is a strength per my opinion, some may consider the vastness of Junger’s details a caveat. I hope not because any story firmly entrenched in the workings of the judicial system needs to be both comprehensive and meticulous in scope and sequence, especially in regard to a storyline like the Boston Strangler that has so many loopholes (pun intended). Some might consider the 1960s a hiccup of recurrent racial tensions, extreme socio-economic diversity, and religious and/or personal belief system disparity, all of which have plagued the United States since its inception, but let’s call it what it really was—life. Coupled with the backdrop of civil rights activism in the 1960s, this book highlights both the struggles of poor minority and immigrant neighborhoods, which in turn serves as a foil to well-to-do communities like Belmont, Massachusetts. Mr. Junger not only gives his readers an interesting history lesson, but he shares a unique family life stamp as one of the potential perps, Al DeSalvo, actually spent time at his childhood home, serving as a handyman to a contracting crew building a studio for his mother. Junger juxtaposes the aforementioned with a detailed account of the arrest of Roy Smith, an African-American who was arrested, tried, and convicted for the murder and rape of Bessie Goldberg, a fellow resident of the affluent Boston suburb. The story revolves around Smith and DeSalvo, both jailed as one maintains his innocence as the Boston Strangler while the other, ironically, strives to achieve the ghastly distinction. The only reservations I would extend concerning A Death in Belmont revolve around its editing. Any close reader will undoubtedly discover a handful of flagrant typos and awkward phrasing. Examples include commonplace misspellings (e.g. “thir” for their), redundancy (e.g. “so Giacoppo waited until his shift was over to drive over to 93…”), comma usage (e.g. failing to provide a comma in compound sentences: “He told Coughlin to go up the front stairs of the building and he pulled his gun and went up the back stairs.”), and apostrophe usage (e.g. plural-possessive mistake: “had to sleep under other peoples’ houses to…”) just to name a few. I can say after tweeting about a couple of the editing mistakes W.W. Norton replied via social media that they would update the files, which was admirable. But let’s call a spade a spade—these editing mistakes should have been caught long before this book ever went to both print and e-book, especially considering the reverence and devotion many readers hold toward the publishing giant W.W. Norton and Company. But getting back to better things. There is nothing Punch and Judy about this novel—it’s an intellectual and serious read, and the storyline demands one’s attention. Plus, Junger gives several powerful maxims throughout the piece. Hands down, one of my favorite quotes in the book states: “In some ways there is nothing less relevant than an old murder case. The reason it is important is this: Here is a group of people who have gathered to judge— and possibly execute— a fellow citizen. It’s the highest calling there is, the very thing that separates us from social anarchy, and it has to be done well.” Undoubtedly, this quote is an analogy for life and everything that can and should govern it. Old murder cases are cold, both literally and figuratively, and whenever a story keeps you talking about it in small circles with friends and pondering the “what ifs” while lying in bed, it’s worth a go. A cross between Helter Skelter and In Cold Blood, the terrifying reality of bad things sometimes happening to good people makes Junger’s A Death in Belmont a relevant read in 2015. 4 out of 5 cigars

  7. 4 out of 5

    Chris Gager

    I semi-read this last night and wasn't all that impressed. Maybe I wasn't in the mood for a meandering heavily procedural take on the Boston Strangler case. I was living(in a boarding school) near Hartford while this took place and had family up by Worcester, so there was a bit of a cultural connection at the time. Certainly my interest was piqued by the author's name(The Perfect Storm) and then there's the startling picture inside the cover - if you know what Albert De Salvo looks like. Junger' I semi-read this last night and wasn't all that impressed. Maybe I wasn't in the mood for a meandering heavily procedural take on the Boston Strangler case. I was living(in a boarding school) near Hartford while this took place and had family up by Worcester, so there was a bit of a cultural connection at the time. Certainly my interest was piqued by the author's name(The Perfect Storm) and then there's the startling picture inside the cover - if you know what Albert De Salvo looks like. Junger's family had a sort of connection to De Salvo and SJ's mother might have been in Albert's sights as a potential victim at one time - scary. There's an awful lot about the poor guy who was likely wrongfully convicted of murdering one of the Strangler's victims. He died while attempts were being made to free him after many years of imprisonment. Still, at the end, SJ admits that one can't be SURE that Mr. Smith didn't kill Bessie Goldberg(a Belmont resident and remote neighbor of the Junger family). What kind of killed the book for me were all the pages of overdone asides - filler, really. SJ does spent some time on describing the life of the "real" Boston Strangler(nobody really knows for sure), who was murdered in a jail hospital on the tenth anniversary of the conviction of Roy Smith. De Salvo confessed to all the OTHER Strangler murders, but not to the one Mr. Smith was convicted of even though he was definitely in the area(working on the Junger house as a laborer) and the whole M.O. of the Bessie killing had "Strangler" written all over it. Mr. Smith seems to have been a the wrong place at the wrong time. At the end of the story SJ gives a nice logical summary of the events and legal questions that still surround the case, but I had seriously skimmed the book in the middle to get to that point. It's not a long book and compelling enough if you have the patience for all the technical legal stuff. - 2.75* rounds up to 3*

  8. 4 out of 5

    Katherine Addison

    I was a little dubious about Junger because he's been so over-hyped, but this is in fact an excellent book that looks at the Boston Strangler case from a somewhat sideways perspective (the death in Belmont of the title): a murder that Albert DeSalvo didn't confess to and that another man was convicted of and yet that fits the Boston Strangler's pattern. This is mostly a book about the impossibility of ever knowing the truth; Junger teases out his possibilities carefully and does a lot of the kind I was a little dubious about Junger because he's been so over-hyped, but this is in fact an excellent book that looks at the Boston Strangler case from a somewhat sideways perspective (the death in Belmont of the title): a murder that Albert DeSalvo didn't confess to and that another man was convicted of and yet that fits the Boston Strangler's pattern. This is mostly a book about the impossibility of ever knowing the truth; Junger teases out his possibilities carefully and does a lot of the kind of analysis I particularly like in true crime, but at the end of the day we can't even say for certain that Albert DeSalvo WAS the Boston Strangler, much less that he killed this particular woman whose murder he never confessed to. Junger is an excellent writer, conveying fact with clarity and nuance with delicacy. He doesn't try to elide his presence in the narrative (which is something I'm coming more and more to appreciate), but he also never tries to make himself out to be more than an observer from the sidelines.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Will Byrnes

    When Sebastian Junger was a kid, a neighbor was murdered in a way consistent with the Boston Strangler, who was then stalking the city. A black man was convicted of the crime on rather inconclusive evidence. At the time, the construction crew working on a renovation project in the Junger household included an extra hand by the name of Albert DeSalvo. This is Junger’s look-see into how likely it might have been for DeSalvo, the confessed Boston Strangler, to have been guilty of the crime. It is a When Sebastian Junger was a kid, a neighbor was murdered in a way consistent with the Boston Strangler, who was then stalking the city. A black man was convicted of the crime on rather inconclusive evidence. At the time, the construction crew working on a renovation project in the Junger household included an extra hand by the name of Albert DeSalvo. This is Junger’s look-see into how likely it might have been for DeSalvo, the confessed Boston Strangler, to have been guilty of the crime. It is a very interesting, if not compelling account. It is clear that this was written for his own reasons. After all, Mom was almost a victim herself. Interesting, but not a must-read. Sad, but mostly old news.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Darlene

    Every now and then, I like to binge on true crime stories. This book, A Death in Belmont, written by Sebastian Junger is one of the best true crime stories I have read in a long time. Sebastian Junger is a fantastic investigative journalist whose most recent book, War,provides and excellent look at the war in Afghanistan. Mr. Junger followed a single platoon through their 15 month tour of duty. What sets A Death in Belmont apart from other true crime stories is that Sebastian Junger provides a p Every now and then, I like to binge on true crime stories. This book, A Death in Belmont, written by Sebastian Junger is one of the best true crime stories I have read in a long time. Sebastian Junger is a fantastic investigative journalist whose most recent book, War,provides and excellent look at the war in Afghanistan. Mr. Junger followed a single platoon through their 15 month tour of duty. What sets A Death in Belmont apart from other true crime stories is that Sebastian Junger provides a personal angle to this very interesting story. In the summer of 1963, in Sebastian Junger's very own neighborhood in Belmont, Massachusetts, there was a murder. Bessie Goldberg, a middle aged woman, was found strangled by her husband when he returned home from work. It just so happened that on the day of Mrs. Goldberg's murder, the Goldberg family had hired Roy Smith, an African American man, to help Bessie clean the home to ready it for a party. It was reported to police that Roy Smith had had been observed walking the streets in the community, observed by many residents and shop keepers. Roy Smith was memorable simply because seeing an African american man walking the streets of this particular community was an uncommon occurrence. To give a little historical perspective, the strangulation of Bessie Goldberg was just the latest in a series of strangulations which had been occurring in the Boston area. Police were, consequently, under a great deal of pressure from the community to solve these crimes. As Mr. Junger describes ... the subsequent arrest of Roy Smith was perhaps just as much an illustration of the state of race relations and racial inequality in the criminal justice system as it was an indication of his guilt. Mr. Junger meticulously laid out the case against Roy Smith and although I'm not an expert in the field of criminal justice, the evidence seemed the flimsiest of circumstantial at best. As you might imagine, Roy Smith WAS ultimately convicted and sent to prison. Consequently, the police were off the hook and the community felt as if they could breathe a little easier.. after all, the 'strangler' had been caught. What was of particular interest in this story was Mr. Junger's personal connection. During that summer of 1963, Mr. Junger's family was having some work done on their home in their Belmont neighborhood. A carpenter on this work crew was Albert DeSalvo... the very Albert DeSalvo who ended up confessing to police that HE was the 'Boston Strangler'.. long after Roy Smith had been sent away to prison. Mr. Junger related that a strange incident between his mother and Mr. DeSalvo is what had inspired him to look into this story. DeSalvo confessed to the many strangulations which had terrified the city .... giving details and explanations.. for all except one. He did NOT confess to the strangulation of Bessie Goldberg.... even though he was clearly in the Goldberg's neighborhood that day, working in the Junger home. Albert DeSalvo was indeed convicted of the strangulations in Boston and Roy Smith continued to spend his life in prison. Ultimately, Roy Smith's sentence was commuted but sadly, when he was finally told he was to be released, he was in the prison infirmary dying from cancer. Mr. Junger carefully and methodically laid out the case against Albert DeSalvo in the same way he laid out the case against Roy Smith...he described each man's criminal history and the evidence against them. The truth is that there was very little in terms of evidence to go on... in 1963, DNA testing was not available. Through Mr. Junger's thorough investigative reporting, what you DO get is the feel of the injustice that was, and is, ever present in the criminal justice system. Although Roy Smith always maintained that he had not strangled Mrs.Goldberg, he also made it very clear to the police officers questioning him that he was certain that, in the end, it would not matter what he said or what evidence was actually presented.. he WOULD be found guilty. Sadly Roy Smith was quite accurate in his pronouncements. Not only was Sebastian Junger's book about the very compelling case of the 'Boston Strangler', it also served to illuminate the injustice and inequalities (yes, racism) that were present in our criminal justice system... both in 1963 and sadly, even now.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Walter

    This book, essentially the examination of the Boston Strangler case of the early 1960s (but with a personal twist), is very well-written, a page turner, in fact. Yet, upon finishing it, one can't help but be a tad disappointed, as the concluding chapters lack the decisive, incisive and compelling quality of what precedes them. So, the book starts strong and stays that way until the very end, ultimately ending with the reader feeling a little bit disappointed that Junger becomes more (/too) equiv This book, essentially the examination of the Boston Strangler case of the early 1960s (but with a personal twist), is very well-written, a page turner, in fact. Yet, upon finishing it, one can't help but be a tad disappointed, as the concluding chapters lack the decisive, incisive and compelling quality of what precedes them. So, the book starts strong and stays that way until the very end, ultimately ending with the reader feeling a little bit disappointed that Junger becomes more (/too) equivocal at the end. Yet, before the end of the book, it is hard to put down. Junger's style is brisk, straightforward and at time piercingly insightful. The characters are drawn vividly and the era is conveyed so evocatively that one can picture oneself there. There are dozens of passages in the book that I had to underline and review repeatedly because of their searing perceptiveness. As such then, it's a good and very enjoyable read. The only problem with the book, in my view, is the ending. Junger never really tells you what he thinks after his exhaustive research. He surmises, he prattles on about what is possible (and, only very occasionally about what is likely because, presumably, this would lead him into the murky mess of drawing a more concrete conclusion). It's basically like reading a great detective story - which, in this case, has the advantage of being true - and then getting to the end and the author says something like "we'll never really know who did it" - what?!? Isn't that why I just read your 260 pages, to learn whom you thought did it and why?!? Of course, we can all infer what Junger thinks, but, honestly, having to speculate after such a powerful telling of the tale is a most disappointing experience. And yet, it's so good that it's worth reading right up to the conclusion.... So, on the whole, though mildly disappointed with the ending, I recommend this book highly. For 90% of its 260 pages I almost couldn't put it down, which is why I recommend it to others. For the last 10%, well, I guess that we'll all just have to remember that a 90 is an "A"....

  12. 4 out of 5

    Cathy DuPont

    Many years ago I was on an Ann Rule binge reading her vast library of true crime novels. One that was of interest, in part because it was set in Florida, was The Stranger Beside Me, an account of serial killer Ted Bundy. Before his name was in every household as a prolific murderer, Rule had worked next to Bundy as a volunteer at a suicide prevention center in Seattle, Washington, where she lived and worked. (Yes, really, Bundy was a volunteer for a suicide prevention crisis line.) Sebastian Jung Many years ago I was on an Ann Rule binge reading her vast library of true crime novels. One that was of interest, in part because it was set in Florida, was The Stranger Beside Me, an account of serial killer Ted Bundy. Before his name was in every household as a prolific murderer, Rule had worked next to Bundy as a volunteer at a suicide prevention center in Seattle, Washington, where she lived and worked. (Yes, really, Bundy was a volunteer for a suicide prevention crisis line.) Sebastian Junger (and more specifically Junger's mother) was also connected to a serial killer, the Boston Strangler, Albert DeSalvo who confessed to murdering 12 or 13 women. (It’s unclear the exact number since DeSalvo confessed then recanted. And one elderly woman died of a heart attack when she answered the door, thinking the man at the door was the Boston Strangler. Would this be considered murder?) I read Junger’s The Perfect Storm, twice within six months because I enjoyed it so much. However, A Death In Belmont, well, 'it ain’t no' In Cold Blood as the back cover states. ' For anyone who wants a lesson on legal procedures, this is a good book to read since Junger does much to explain the intricacies of the legal system. Other than that, Junger does a bang up job leaving me in the dark about DeSalvo and Roy Smith who was charged with the murder of Bessie Goldberg. Maybe Junger wrote this for his mother who, it appears, just barely escaped being an early victim. All in all, for me, just a so-so read.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Janellyn51

    I thought this was really good. It mainly apealed to me because I remember the Boston Strangler time so well. I've spent the night in an apartment where one of the girls was found, I knew someone who discovered one of the bodies....and when Albert DeSalvo broke out of Bridgewater Correctional Institution for the Criminally insane...I lived one town over. I remember my mother saying If anyone comes to the door, you go upstairs and throw the kids out the window and I'll call the police. I had no i I thought this was really good. It mainly apealed to me because I remember the Boston Strangler time so well. I've spent the night in an apartment where one of the girls was found, I knew someone who discovered one of the bodies....and when Albert DeSalvo broke out of Bridgewater Correctional Institution for the Criminally insane...I lived one town over. I remember my mother saying If anyone comes to the door, you go upstairs and throw the kids out the window and I'll call the police. I had no idea what she was on about! Anyway, I love Sebastian Junger's book, and the way he writes. He doesn't draw a conclusion and the jury is still out on this one..but it's a subject that's fascinated me for years....How weird too, that the author's family has a tie to DeSalvo!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Angus McKeogh

    A extremely fascinating read about race relations in the 60s, the justice system, and the Boston Strangler's personal connection to the author's family. Junger stated in an interview that the best part of the whole book was that it had no concrete, definitive ending. I'd have to agree. It made it a highly recommended read. A extremely fascinating read about race relations in the 60s, the justice system, and the Boston Strangler's personal connection to the author's family. Junger stated in an interview that the best part of the whole book was that it had no concrete, definitive ending. I'd have to agree. It made it a highly recommended read.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Aaron Million

    Interesting book about a murder that may or may not have been part of the infamous Boston Strangler murders of the early and mid 1960s. An older woman is raped and strangled to death in her home in 1963. She lived in Belmont, a white suburb of Boston. A black man is convicted of the murder but not the rape; many believe that the man is innocent, yet his own past - while at times arguing against him committing a violent crime such as this - helps to lend possible credence to him being the murdere Interesting book about a murder that may or may not have been part of the infamous Boston Strangler murders of the early and mid 1960s. An older woman is raped and strangled to death in her home in 1963. She lived in Belmont, a white suburb of Boston. A black man is convicted of the murder but not the rape; many believe that the man is innocent, yet his own past - while at times arguing against him committing a violent crime such as this - helps to lend possible credence to him being the murderer. What helps to add interest here is that Junger has a personal family history related - or maybe not related - to the murder. Al DeSalvo was part of a small crew working on an addition to his parent's home, only 1.2 miles away from the murder scene. DeSalvo had a disturbing past, with a pattern of sexual violence and cruelty to animals. Two incidents occur at Junger's home. Fortunately, neither of them amounted to anything bad for the participants, but after the fact it certainly seems chilling to read about them. Did DeSalvo kill Goldberg? Was he the Boston Strangler (he both confessed to the crimes - the Goldberg murder was never labeled as one of them - and recanted his confession)? Is the Goldberg murder related to the others? The first question seems to be what sets Junger out on his quest to try to learn the truth, if it were possible. Junger goes to great lengths to set the scene and describe the neighborhood and the mood in and around Boston during the early 1960s. For example, he discusses racism. Did it a play a role in Roy Smith being immediately arrested based on circumstantial evidence, and then swiftly convicted? Junger explains the make-up of the neighborhood and how the people of Belmont viewed a black man walking down their streets. He explains how Smith felt being interrogated by white police detectives. Junger does not call anyone racist (except a pizzeria owner who quite obviously was racist), but neither does he come anywhere close to saying that race did not play a part in the story. It was a part of the story, almost certainly to Smith's detriment, and it may have influenced the outcome, but it probably was not the main reason for his conviction. There are so many unanswered questions about this murder, and DeSalvo as well. He clearly had some deep psychological problems. But was he a murderer? Did he commit the Goldberg murder? Was he the strangler, but he didn't kill Goldberg? Junger really does a good job of remaining as impartial as he can be, and letting whatever evidence and facts that are there speak for themselves. Refreshingly, he did not seem to have an agenda: such as to exonerate Smith, or convict DeSalvo. At times, Junger deviated to discussing legal concepts and definitions, like that of "reasonable doubt". It does seem that he tried to strike a balance between providing the reader with the essentials of what is needed to help understand what is going in the courtroom, with not losing the reader in a maze of legalities. Still, these frequent jaunts to the legal world did interrupt the narrative, which caused me to refocus on the story once Junger was done with the legal definition of whatever point he was making. What I did find missing here is that there is no mention of what the jurors themselves thought about Smith. Did any of them speak out later about the deliberations or the evidence that was presented at the trial? Was a race a factor? Also, what was the reaction of Israel Goldberg, the widower, to Smith's conviction? Did he think Smith really did murder his wife? What did daughter Leah believe? Junger keeps the story together, and writes in a style sufficiently interesting enough to keep the reader engaged. But I would not place him in the same category as Erik Larson. Grade: B-

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lisa (Harmonybites)

    Junger wrote one of my favorite books, The Perfect Storm. (Made into a mediocre film, but that shouldn't be held against it.) I can't rate this book quite as high--that book had some absolutely awesome, spine-tingling moments I'll never forget, and this book doesn't match it. I also wouldn't agree with the blurb inside that called it reminiscent of Capote's In Cold Blood, which I read only a few days ago. It might similarly be about a gruesome murder, but their virtues are quite opposite. Capote Junger wrote one of my favorite books, The Perfect Storm. (Made into a mediocre film, but that shouldn't be held against it.) I can't rate this book quite as high--that book had some absolutely awesome, spine-tingling moments I'll never forget, and this book doesn't match it. I also wouldn't agree with the blurb inside that called it reminiscent of Capote's In Cold Blood, which I read only a few days ago. It might similarly be about a gruesome murder, but their virtues are quite opposite. Capote claimed to have invented a new from, the "non-fiction novel." As a novel I'd rate it highly--the writing is first-rate and worthy of being called literature. But as non-fiction I consider it unreliable for a number of reasons. With Junger's A Death in Belmont, I'm not particularly impressed with the prose--indeed on that dimension it falls short of The Perfect Storm. But as non-fiction, as a work of journalism, it's first-rate and convincing in ways I feel Capote's classic book is not. The origins of the book lie in a piece of Junger's family lore summed up in a photograph in the book--of Junger as an infant held by his mother, and caught also in the photograph Albert DeSalvo, the Boston Stranger. While DeSalvo was working for the Jungers in the Spring of 1963, Bessie Goldberg was raped and strangled to death little more than a mile from their home. A black man, Roy Smith, was convicted of her murder. Junger's mother has always believed Smith was innocent and Goldberg another victim of the Boston Stranger. In telling the story of these two men and the crimes of which they were convicted, Junger examines the American justice system and its flaws: "Between 1973 and 200 more than one hundred people have been released from death row--over 3 percent of the current death-row population--because they were later proved to be innocent." He later adds that of those found to be innocent "one out of five confessed to the crime." Those are sobering statistics. Moreover, half-way in the book given the evidence Junger had related, I thought Smith was probably guilty--although I wouldn't have voted for conviction had I been on the jury--by the end of the book Junger convinced me he was probably innocent. Note the qualification "probably" and one thing Junger wrestles with throughout is the question not simply of guilt and innocence but doubt--particularly that elusive definition of "reasonable doubt" and how society comes to terms with it. For the "ability of citizens to scrutinize the theories insisted on by their government is their only protection against abuse of power and, ultimately, against tyranny." I do like how Junger used the cases involving DeSalvo and Smith to examine that issue. If I have any complaint, it's that I wish Junger had included his sources--there are no notes of them. At one point for instance, he stated that the polygraph has "error rates of 30 percent." I have no problem believing that--polygraphs after all don't really measure truth--only a physiological response. But I'd have liked to have known on what basis that and other claims were made. Definitely an engrossing book that asked questions every citizen that has to sit in a jury box should think about.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Karyl

    I'd never heard of the Boston Strangler before Goodreads suggested this book to me. I'd also read Junger's The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men Against the Sea just last month, so the author was familiar to me. Being fascinated with serial killers, this book seemed perfect for me. I have to say, this book blows A Perfect Storm out of the water. Junger seems to really have come into his own as a writer, whereas in A Perfect Storm he delves a little too deeply into the very technical, both regard I'd never heard of the Boston Strangler before Goodreads suggested this book to me. I'd also read Junger's The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men Against the Sea just last month, so the author was familiar to me. Being fascinated with serial killers, this book seemed perfect for me. I have to say, this book blows A Perfect Storm out of the water. Junger seems to really have come into his own as a writer, whereas in A Perfect Storm he delves a little too deeply into the very technical, both regarding fishing and the boats used to fish, as well as the meteorological phenomena that caused the horrific storm that sank the Andrea Gail. It could also be that a good chunk of The Perfect Storm had to be conjecture, since we will never know exactly what happened to the Andrea Gail or what decisions her crew may have made. This time, in A Death in Belmont, Junger had plenty of research and material from which to work, which made his narrative so much stronger. This book was difficult to put down. In many places, it reads more like a thriller novel and less like what it is, a well-researched non-fiction piece. The fact that one of the murders that happened in the early 60s occurred just down from Junger's family home when he was a toddler, and that the man who ultimately confessed to being the Boston Strangler worked in Junger's home for a time gives even more weight to his story. Imagine being Mrs Junger and having that strange encounter with DeSalvo, gazing up at her from the basement with that look in her eye. I'm sure it gave her nightmares for years to come, knowing how close she may have come to being a victim of DeSalvo's. The only time the book loses some of its steam is near the end with Junger's ambiguity regarding whether Smith or DeSalvo (or a third person) was responsible for the death in Belmont of Bessie Goldberg, just down the road from his family home. So much points to Smith's innocence and DeSalvo's guilt, but yet DeSalvo refused to confess to Goldberg's murder. It would have been so satisfying to have a clear answer to that murder, but it's one of those things that will never be settled with the data that we have. For fans of true crime or serial killers, I would highly recommend this book.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    It was the finding of an odd family photograph that initially led Sebastian Junger to investigate the murder which forms the basis of this extraordinary true story. Actually, it wasn't so much the photograph itself that was strange, but who was photographed with a one-year-old Sebastian and his thirty-four-year-old mother, Ellen. The story behind the taking of this photograph is actually the most horrifying revelation of all, as this information only further highlights just how close the Jungers It was the finding of an odd family photograph that initially led Sebastian Junger to investigate the murder which forms the basis of this extraordinary true story. Actually, it wasn't so much the photograph itself that was strange, but who was photographed with a one-year-old Sebastian and his thirty-four-year-old mother, Ellen. The story behind the taking of this photograph is actually the most horrifying revelation of all, as this information only further highlights just how close the Jungers came to experiencing their own personal tragedy on that particular day in the spring of 1963. In 1963, residents of the city of Boston were being terrorized by a series of gruesome murders that soon became known as the 'Boston Stranglings'. However, the quiet suburb of Belmont had never experienced the same level of fear until the brutal murder of Bessie Goldberg - which happened only a few blocks from the Junger family home. While Bessie Goldberg's murder bore all the hallmarks of being committed by the Strangler, a young black man by the name of Roy Smith - who had just cleaned the victim's house that day - was arrested, tried, and convicted for her murder. And so, the Strangler continued his reign of terror. Two years later, Albert DeSalvo - a handyman who was working at the Jungers' home on the day of the Belmont murder - confessed in lurid detail to being the Boston Strangler. Much to the horror of the Jungers, this competent, punctual, and unassuming young man had often spent time alone in their home, as well as with Sebastian and his mother. This disturbing revelation, and the chilling photograph that was taken to commemorate the building of a home studio, opens into a electrifying exploration of race and justice in America during the 1960s. This extraordinary narrative chronicles the multiple lives that collide - and are ultimately destroyed - in the vortex of one of the first and most controversial serial murder cases in America. I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. I found it to be very well-written and thought-provoking, if a little slow in certain parts. Although I felt that the story lost some of its momentum, it still picked up appreciably, and I would certainly give this book a strong A!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    Though there is no doubt Sebastian Junger is masterful at the precise, clinical detail, the plot wandered around through historical details which were ultimately irrelevant to the narrative arch. As a study of detail and successful expository writing, this book balances both with skill. The book is almost entirely exposition, but the details draw a reader in so that it feels more like a camera panning across a scene, rather then someone standing in front of the class relating details. Two things Though there is no doubt Sebastian Junger is masterful at the precise, clinical detail, the plot wandered around through historical details which were ultimately irrelevant to the narrative arch. As a study of detail and successful expository writing, this book balances both with skill. The book is almost entirely exposition, but the details draw a reader in so that it feels more like a camera panning across a scene, rather then someone standing in front of the class relating details. Two things bothered me about the book, which lead me to give it only two stars. First, the wandering plot distracted me from the story. Some historical context is good, but for the assumed audience, who only need a passing reference, Junger gets sucked into the details of Martin Luther King's assassination, JFK's assassination and Malcolm X's violent response to civil rights offenses. Each of these topics encompasses a book unto itself, and through they add to the underlying themes of race, class and education that Junger explores, there is no need for the multi page tangets these topics receive throughout the course of the book. My second major complain is the lack of personal detail. Junger starts the book with a personal hook that Albert DeSalvo built his mother's studio. He then goes on to lay out the events and background of the Boston Strangler case. What he doesn't do is to continue that personal thread throughout the book. He mentions, but does not dive deeply into his mother's feelings around the episode nor does he explore his own, which he said had become mythical. The book is journalistic, and losses because of that detachment. He could have woven what the investigators felt about the case, their frustrations or hunches into the book, but he treats them all with a clinical detachment of a medical examiner with a routine autopsy.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Katherine

    I had a hard time in the beginning immersing myself in the story, perhaps owing to the fact that this is a rare example of nonfiction verging on fictionalized writing, which was something I had to get used to. Having favored fiction in the past few years, it took me a while to settle into the journalistic fiction style reminiscent of Joan Didion's writing and Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood." But after reading a couple of chapters, I found myself really enjoying the story and how author Sebastian I had a hard time in the beginning immersing myself in the story, perhaps owing to the fact that this is a rare example of nonfiction verging on fictionalized writing, which was something I had to get used to. Having favored fiction in the past few years, it took me a while to settle into the journalistic fiction style reminiscent of Joan Didion's writing and Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood." But after reading a couple of chapters, I found myself really enjoying the story and how author Sebastian Junger weaved facts, transcripts and his own personal experience together to paint a portrait of the Boston Strangler himself, as well as the sign of the times and incidents surrounding the murders. Even more amazing is how Junger provides his own interpretation of the events without sinking completely into the fictionalized world and without creating conversations that never occurred. Instead, he uses facts surrounding the case, the racial inequality so horrifyingly normal at that time and events, such as JFK's assasination, that might have led to the false imprisonment of a black man. I'm also amazed at how he lets the facts speak for themselves, which he brilliantly uses to draw the reader in to develop his "characters" and paint a vivid portrait of everyone involved with ironic twists that are so heartfelt that you'll forget you're reading nonfiction. In short, Junger's seemingly distant and objective writing style is merely a facade. Look closely and you'll see that Junger actually uses this objective writing style to get you, the reader, to arrive at the same subjective conclusion as he did and sway you to his way of thinking. Brilliant.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Krista

    Sebastian Junger grew up with a family legend. When he was a small boy, a neighbor was strangled in her living room in Belmont, Massachusetts. A man was convicted of the crime. But the day of the murder, another man was working in the Junger house, a man who would later confess to being the Boston Strangler. Could that man have committed the murder of the neighbor? Could an innocent man be in prison? The justice system never reached a satisfactory resolution of that doubt. Over forty years later, Sebastian Junger grew up with a family legend. When he was a small boy, a neighbor was strangled in her living room in Belmont, Massachusetts. A man was convicted of the crime. But the day of the murder, another man was working in the Junger house, a man who would later confess to being the Boston Strangler. Could that man have committed the murder of the neighbor? Could an innocent man be in prison? The justice system never reached a satisfactory resolution of that doubt. Over forty years later, Junger embarks on a exploration. He studies the lives of the two man, convicted killer and confessed strangler. He examines the racial tensions of the United States and Boston during the 1960s. He ventures deep into the heart of the American justice system. Junger writes with exceptional clarity. He is able to capture the essence of a place, a person, a complicated legal case, with just a few well-chosen words. Despite knowing nearly nothing about the law or the cases in question, I was carried along by Junger’s storytelling. Though he never draws a firm conclusion over who committed the murder in Belmont, his narrative does not disappoint.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne

    This is a fascinating piece of true crime writing centered around the 1960's Boston Strangler case. It has a personal twist, as Junger's young mother had briefly hired a handyman who later confessed to many of the killings. Although it was a more transient relationship than Ann Rule had with Ted Bundy, there were moments where the author (and of course, the reader) are left thinking, "Oh god, what if..." Those encounters, of course, became part of the Junger family lore, which prompted the autho This is a fascinating piece of true crime writing centered around the 1960's Boston Strangler case. It has a personal twist, as Junger's young mother had briefly hired a handyman who later confessed to many of the killings. Although it was a more transient relationship than Ann Rule had with Ted Bundy, there were moments where the author (and of course, the reader) are left thinking, "Oh god, what if..." Those encounters, of course, became part of the Junger family lore, which prompted the author to investigate the case himself and re-examine as much evidence as he could gather in pursuit of the truth, which was hazy at best. If DNA evidence could have been analyzed at the time, we might know the truth, but that wouldn't be a possibility for another 30+ years. The case was left mired in racism, inconsistent testimony, and circumstantial evidence.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Emily C.

    Sebastian Junger goes on a a quest for the truth based on his mother's brief, terrifying encounter with the Boston Strangler during Junger's childhood. A spate of gruesome strangling murders causes great alarm in the greater Boston community. Yet when the title murder occurs, law enforcement officials are so desperate to solve a case that they arrest and charge a black man on circumstantial evidence. Junger follows the path of that man, and the man later arrested for all of the other Boston stra Sebastian Junger goes on a a quest for the truth based on his mother's brief, terrifying encounter with the Boston Strangler during Junger's childhood. A spate of gruesome strangling murders causes great alarm in the greater Boston community. Yet when the title murder occurs, law enforcement officials are so desperate to solve a case that they arrest and charge a black man on circumstantial evidence. Junger follows the path of that man, and the man later arrested for all of the other Boston stranglings in this darkly fascinating novel. A great book that explores the murders and the quest for justice from all sides. The crime scenes and confessions are not for the faint of heart.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Brinn Anderson

    A Death in Belmont, was intriguing with lots of drama and crime. The story follows a troubled man, Roy Smith, whom is being tried for the murder of Bessie Goldberg. There have been many other murders that are almost the exact same crime scene. This name-less murderer earns the reputation of being called “The Boston Strangler”. Throughout the book, other people find their way into the Sheriff’s station, pleading guilty. I was originally interested in this book because of the legal and political i A Death in Belmont, was intriguing with lots of drama and crime. The story follows a troubled man, Roy Smith, whom is being tried for the murder of Bessie Goldberg. There have been many other murders that are almost the exact same crime scene. This name-less murderer earns the reputation of being called “The Boston Strangler”. Throughout the book, other people find their way into the Sheriff’s station, pleading guilty. I was originally interested in this book because of the legal and political issues brought up. The further into the book I got, the less I liked it. The book moves really slow in terms of getting to the climax. I would definitely recommend this book to people who enjoy slower paced books.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Coralie

    This was an amazing true crime story. Sebastian Junger was a baby when the Boston Strangler terrorized Boston. There was a murder right in his neighborhood. A black man was arrested, prosecuted and convicted for this murder, yet women were still murdered after this man was behind bars. Eventually, another man was arrested for the crimes committed by the Boston Strangler. This man claimed to be the Boston Strangler. Horrifyingly enough, the second man arrested for the crimes had done some remodel This was an amazing true crime story. Sebastian Junger was a baby when the Boston Strangler terrorized Boston. There was a murder right in his neighborhood. A black man was arrested, prosecuted and convicted for this murder, yet women were still murdered after this man was behind bars. Eventually, another man was arrested for the crimes committed by the Boston Strangler. This man claimed to be the Boston Strangler. Horrifyingly enough, the second man arrested for the crimes had done some remodeling in Sebastian Junger's house. Junger does a good job of writing a dark tale of racism and murder.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Drew

    This "New York Times" bestseller concerns a murder that happened down the street from Sebastian Junger's childhood home. Was it a black handyman from Mississippi who did it or a white workman in the Junger household, who may also have been the Boston strangler? Junger never wholeheartedly attacks how racist the American judicial system is for Suspect 1 nor makes a convincing argument that Suspect 2 is neither the famed serial killer nor the local assailant. He also quotes a doctor who says a ser This "New York Times" bestseller concerns a murder that happened down the street from Sebastian Junger's childhood home. Was it a black handyman from Mississippi who did it or a white workman in the Junger household, who may also have been the Boston strangler? Junger never wholeheartedly attacks how racist the American judicial system is for Suspect 1 nor makes a convincing argument that Suspect 2 is neither the famed serial killer nor the local assailant. He also quotes a doctor who says a series of a rapes are actually guilt-ridden seductions, without repudiating him at all. Not good.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Alisa

    This book felt forced, like Junger had been obsessed for so long, changed his mind so often, and was still so deeply conflicted, that writing the book was his only way to purge the topic from his immediate consciousness so he could move forward. I did appreciate his explanations of the legal processes, and the ways that even lawyers trip over explaining very serious ideas that impact our sense of justice and its impacts on our forms of democracy.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Martyna

    Enjoyed it immensely, even though some of Junger's philosophising can occassionally be grating/not that deep or original. Also, his writing style occassionaly lacks certain finesse ("[this] meant that she never stood up after she was raped. She never stood up because she was dead." - yeah, way to bring the point home) but it is made up for by his good scene-setting skills which put you right in the middle of a scene. All in all quite a satisfying read! Enjoyed it immensely, even though some of Junger's philosophising can occassionally be grating/not that deep or original. Also, his writing style occassionaly lacks certain finesse ("[this] meant that she never stood up after she was raped. She never stood up because she was dead." - yeah, way to bring the point home) but it is made up for by his good scene-setting skills which put you right in the middle of a scene. All in all quite a satisfying read!

  29. 5 out of 5

    PageTurnersBookClub

    Our May book club pick. We all enjoyed the book and recommend it to other book clubs. It is short, quick and very fascinating. It also allows readers to visit a famous crime from a different viewpoint.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Davina

    Interesting story and a unique take, given that Junger's family crossed paths with the probable Boston Strangler. However, I was disappointed that this book ended in such a messy tangle of conjectures. I realize this was a complex case from many decades past but the writing felt a bit like a term paper someone is drafting at the final hour and all the threads of argument are mashed together in a perfunctory way. Interesting story and a unique take, given that Junger's family crossed paths with the probable Boston Strangler. However, I was disappointed that this book ended in such a messy tangle of conjectures. I realize this was a complex case from many decades past but the writing felt a bit like a term paper someone is drafting at the final hour and all the threads of argument are mashed together in a perfunctory way.

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