Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Murder Room by Michael Capuzzo

Fans of The Devil in the White City or The Poisoner's Handbook will love this non-fiction book about the Vidocq Society, a group of renowned forensic experts, detectives, and police officers who gather once a month in a Philadelphia restaurant to go over cold cases that have been deemed "unsolvable".  

With a solve rate of 90%, these men and women are brilliant in using their collective knowledge of criminals to look over files and consult with police to solve murders from the 1950's all the way up to 1999.  All the murders are heartbreaking, and you find yourself cheering these men and women on as they go over case files obsessively, turning over every detail from these crimes.

One of the founders of the Society, Frank Bender, is an artist who sculpts busts from murder victims skulls, re-creating their faces with a gift he refuses to call psychic, but an ability to tune into the universe.  Mocked by many of his fellow society members, he commands respect in his uncanny ability to pinpoint exactly what people looked like and give details about the crime that only the victim could provide.  He has a gift that has helped to solve many crimes. 

Another man is Richard Walters, a profiler of extraordinary skill who can look over a case file and accurately describe the criminal, right down to his job description and were he might be living.  This man is just flat out brilliant.

These men and women are the speakers for the dead who patiently wait to be vindicated. They provide closure to family left behind with nothing but grief and unanswered questions, and work tirelessly to solve crimes.

If you have a queasy stomach, don't read this.  It really does bring home the fact that there is true evil in this world, and much of it walks around on two legs, looking only to appease it's appetite for destruction.  But if you're fascinated by all things forensics (like I am) and want to learn a bit about how cold cases can still be solved, this is a great book for you.

1 comment :

  1. I read your post as i am half way through the murder room, and quite frankly i am struggling with it. Is it a book of tales, or is there a story hiding somewhere within, if the latter it will need to reveal itself soon, or i will concede defeat and leave this book unfinished.