The Spider and the Fly

  • by Claudia Rowe
  • Narrated by Cassandra Campbell
  • 9 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

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.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

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
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- William

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.
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- Smoochagator

Book Details

  • Release Date: 01-24-2017
  • Publisher: HarperAudio