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Normally I pass on true crime genre, and I wouldn't have pick this one if I hadn't heard a fascinating interview on NPR's Fresh Air featuring the author, Michael Capuzzo, forensic psychologist and profiler Richard Walter, and learning of the origins of the Vidocq Society. Capuzzo's work walks us through an American nightmare of psychopaths, sadists, killers, serial killers and more. There are names here we're familiar with from the news, and some we're only dimly aware of from myths, fairy tales, and from our nightmares. All of them true.This is not the typical true-crime drama or quickie csi adventure with neat solutions and families finding hope and closure at the end. Solutions are a long time in coming if at all.
Always gripping, I'd find it hard to describe this as entertainment. This is information disturbing and horrifying for the most part but there is also hope, thanks to the Society. This is knowledge that helps us discover what drives certain individuals; that informs us as to why some people do what they do,such as the members of the Vidocq Society who labor for the dead in order to provide them a voice,in many cases restores an identity,and provides the relief their families longs for.
At fourteen plus hours I found this excellent production much too short and immediately had to listen again. Initially I thought I would be put off by Adam Grupper's sharp, just-the-facts reading but seconds into the audio I found myself swept away into this history of the origins of expert crime analysis. His voice and intonations were perfect for this book.He would make an excellent Sherlock Holmes.This is a book for all the cynics and skeptics who, like I, long to find the goodness buried deep in the the human soul only to find ourselves horrified by the potential for the extreme evil that is buried in us all; that allows us to annililate each other in ways unimaginable, but still providing hope for those who've lost loved ones to murder.
This is an excellent find.
18 of 18 people found this review helpful
This is one of the most engaging books I have read on crime in a long time. Capuzzo tells the origins and history of the Vidocq Society, a group of forensic experts who gather together once a month in Philadelphia to hear cold cases. These men and women work pro bono and have solved numerous crimes. The book focuses on the three founding members of the society: US Customs Agent William Fleisher, pre-eminent psychologist and profiler Richard Walter, and the brilliant forensic artist Frank Bender. These men have solved some of the most heinous crimes of the last 50 years.
The topic of the book is fascinating and the true life characters are very intriguing. Perhaps at times too intriguing. Capuzzo, an excellent writer, tends to rabbit trail a little too much and inserts a lot of material that makes the flow of the story choppy and hard to follow at times. Don't let that dissuade you from reading this book. I will give you one warning: this is not for the faint of hear. You have to understand that these men track down psychopaths. Some of the material is brutal. Capuzzo never revels in the horror, but he does describe it. If you want to believe that there are no bad people out there then avoid this book. You will encounter evil.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful