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Darkness Descending - the Murder of Meredith Kercher
Paul Russell, Graham Johnson, Luciano Garofano
As someone with a keen interest of both crime fiction and true crime the media storm that surrounded the tragic murder of British student Meredith Kercher has had me gripped from day one.
For those unfamiliar with the case - On 1st November 2007 the murdered body of Meredith Kercher was found in her Perugia home that she shared with three other students. Within days her room mate Amanda Knox and her Italian boyfriend Rafaelle Sollecito were charged with the murder in what the prosecutors was the tragic result of a sex game gone wrong. A third party Rude Guede was later arrested and charged with the murder. All three were found guilty.
The book takes us throughout the case from the time all parties arrived in Perugia to the final guilty verdict.
This was the first book I read on the case and I have to say that I was not impressed mainly on 2 counts - bias and writing style. I was expecting an in depth examination of the case and the players involved but what it turned out to be was an anti Amanda Knox propaganda written like a sensational article in magzines such as The National Inquirer. Facts seemed to be thrown out of the window and the reader has to contend with what is in essence the vivid imagination of the author.
I found that for a factual crime account the style and tone of the book was totally inappropriate. From the opening lines of the book I was quite shocked by a tone that read more like a crime thriller that a factual account. Bearing in mind that this is a factual book the book begins:
"In death her body is still beautiful - dark and lithe. She looks as though she has been aroused from a deep sleep"
The books starts right in the murder scene and I feel that the description of Meredith was completely inappropriate and again more like writing you would expect in a novel.
"A hole that is the size of her mouth . Someone has carved another mouth - gouged a second mouth on the left side of her neck. A flap of flesh, which should cover the gape like a lid, protrudes from her neck like a tongue."
For me this style of writing is wholly inappropriate for a True Crime book - this was a real person and I actually felt many of the descriptions disrespectful and completely unnecessary. As this is a book about a murder I expected descriptions of injuries but I expect these to be written in a more clinical form.
I also felt that the authors took a lot of liberties when describing the supposed thoughts and intentions of Amanda Knox.
"Coyly Amanda continued 'And then I came back home to have a shower.' She let the image hang there, giving the officer a glimpse into a world he could only fantasize about."
This type of blatant supposition throughout the book made me pretty much doubt anything that was said. It felt almost like this book had been written with no more research than reading the Daily Mail. The authors clearly had an agenda that was so blatant that it was impossible to dig out any true facts from the "crime thriller" style writing.
The book was completely one sided with lots of crucial information left out. Even the front cover of the book manages to completely ignore the perpetrator Rudy Guede who was found guilty alongside Knox and Sollecito.
As of writing Amanda Knox and Rafaelle Sollecito are appealing their sentences and the DNA in the case seems to be collapsing around the ears of the prosecution.
Amanda Knox and Rafaelle Sollecito are currently appealing their sentences. Are they guilty? This book does is best to convince you that they are but sloppy writing leads you to no other conclusion than what is written is to be taken with a pinch of salt.