A Deadly Secret

  • by Matt Birkbeck
  • Narrated by David H. Lawrence XVII
  • 9 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The recent arrest in New Orleans and the HBO documentary The Jinx have put Robert Durst back in the headlines. Here, from the first reporter to access Durst's NYPD files, is the authoritative account of a decades-long criminal odyssey - the very book found in Durst's own apartment when it was searched by police.
When medical student Kathie Durst vanished in 1982, she was married to Robert Durst, son of a New York real estate magnate. Kathie's friends had reason to implicate her husband. They told police that Kathie lived in terror of Robert and that she had uncovered incriminating financial evidence about him. But Durst's secrets went even deeper. For decades Kathie's disappearance remained a mystery.
Then in 2001, Durst, an heir to an empire valued at two billion dollars, was arrested for shoplifting in Pennsylvania. When the police brought him in, they discovered that he was a suspect in the murder of Texas drifter Morris Black, whose dismembered remains were found floating in Galveston Bay, and that Durst was also wanted for questioning in the killing of his friend, Susan Burman, in Los Angeles.
Based on interviews with family, friends, and acquaintances of Durst, law enforcement, and others involved in the case, A Deadly Secret is a cross-country odyssey of stolen IDs and multiple identities that raises baffling questions about one of the country's most prominent families - and one of its most elusive suspected killers.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Tour-de-force of Crime without Punishment

True-crime stories most frequently end the with criminal caught and on trial or in jail. In this case, each time Durst is caught he gets away, over and over - he bought justice, and not at Walmart.

On the brighter side, the author did a great job. The cast of supporting characters, including the media itself, is a comic relief. The weeping "best friend" who tries to sell her story . . . the Westchester "DA," hogging the camera . . . the cocaine-fueled 1980s partying . . . all very entertaining. The author did a good job of telling everyone's stories from their point of view while they held the stage. The narrator (17th?) also did an excellent job, creating different voices for the characters. The whole is a tour-de-force of crime without punishment - for the criminal, anyway.
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- Teadrinker

A compelling story which has yet to end

The Story of Robert Durst, a scion of a fabulously wealthy New York real estate empire, has been extensively covered over the years, most recently by a 5 part HBO television series, but also in numerous magazine articles and newspaper stories. It's a story dating back to the early 1980's, when Durst's beautiful wife Kathie disappeared without a trace, and Durst was soon suspected of her murder... but her body was never found, and Durst was never indicted for the crime.

The story might have ended then, despite the substantial efforts of a New York police detective, who chased the case for several years, amassing many clues, but no definitive evidence. The story was resurrected many years later, with the murder of Durst's close friend Susan Berman... and followed by a bombshell in which Durst was indicted and tried for the murder of a man in Galveston TX, whose body had been surgically disassembled and thrown into Galveston Bay; Durst argued, in his trial, that the killing was in self defense, and amazingly, the jury acquitted him.Along the way, we learn, from the book, about the efforts of Kathie Durst's friends to solve the murder, the self-aggrandizing NY district Attorney who used the case for her political promotion, and the countless witnesses, detectives, and others who contributed clues.

Yet, the story isn't over, and as of this writing, Robert Durst is under indictment for the murder of Susan Berman... and is a suspect in many more killings. He is revealed in the book to be certainly a sociopath, quite possibly a psychopath, and arguably schizophrenic.

Matt Birkbeck's narrative is an interesting read, with a maximum of facts and a minimum of contrived conversation (something I find annoying, in some true crime books), and David Lawrence's narration was crisp and clear. While many readers might find fault with narrators who affect accents to distinguish characters while narrating, Lawrence's 'New York drawl', when speaking for Robert Durst, is particularly well targeted, in my opinion.

I find it especially interesting that the story isn't over. Birkbeck's book was originally published in 2005, but was updated this year, just prior to Durst's indictment for the Berman killing, so it is about as up to date as possible.
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- Norman B. Bernstein

Book Details

  • Release Date: 04-21-2015
  • Publisher: Penguin Audio