Fiona's True Crime Book Reviews: L by author

George Lardner, Jr.
The Stalking of Kristin

"This is Kristin's story. I'd give anything not to have written it." Kristin Lardner's father won a Pulitzer Prize for a series of Washington Post articles about this promising young art student who was killed by a jealous ex-boyfriend. In this expanded book version he makes the important point that Kristin did everything right: She was educated and sophisticated, and had the time and resources to make the law work for her. And she was a member of the class of people who believe the law when it promises to protect them. With a parent's rage, and an impressive command of the facts and statistics, Lardner refutes the widespread belief that the courts offer effective protection to battered women who do report their abusers and press charges. Includes photos of Kristin's artwork about abuse of women, and 80 pages of footnotes and bibliography about the legal system.

Bernard Lefkowitz
Our Guys: The Glen Ridge Rape...

Leslie, a sweet-natured young woman with the mental age of an eight-year-old, just wanted to be friends with the high school football stars. When they invited her down into the basement "rec room" of a suburban home, she was thrilled to be included. They raped her--with a baseball bat and a broomstick. Bernard Lefkowitz, in this superbly crafted book, brings us into the daily life of Glen Ridge, New Jersey, the home town of Tom Cruise. It's an affluent white community that values propriety, order, discretion, continuity, and a fantasy of the gentleman-athlete. As Lefkowitz writes of the boys who raped Leslie, ''These Glen Ridge kids, they were pure gold, every mother's dream, every father's pride. They were not only Glen Ridge's finest, but in their perfection they belonged to all of us. They were Our Guys.'' What's ultimately most shocking about this crime, is how ordinary it was, how predictable--how in one way or another it's happening now, all across America.

Meyer Levin

"Before, we had thought the boys could only have committed the murder under some sudden dreadful impulse. But now we learned how the deed had been marked by a long design developed in full detail. What was new to us was this entry into the dark, vast area of death as an abstraction." The mid-'20s Leopold-Loeb case, called "the crime of the century," introduced Americans to a new type of murder: Two privileged college students picked a child at random and killed him without a conventional motive, simply as an intellectual experiment. Meyer Levin's 1956 novel is historical fiction in the tradition of Theodore Dreiser's An American Tragedy--both a compelling story and a conscientious analysis of the different psychologies of the two youths. Compulsion was called "a masterly achievement in literary craftsmanship" by Earle Stanley Gardner in the New York Times Book Review, and it inspired an award-winning film starring Orson Welles as Clarence Darrow.

[All reviews copyright ©, Inc. 1997-8]

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