Authors & Events
Jun 07, 2011
| ISBN 9781592406357
Aug 10, 2010
| ISBN 9781101458952
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Jun 07, 2011 | ISBN 9781592406357
Aug 10, 2010 | ISBN 9781101458952
Thrilling, true crime tales from the Vidocq Society – a team of the world’s finest forensic investigators whose monthly lunches lead to justice in ice-cold murders. Three of the greatest detectives in the world were heartsick over the growing tide of unsolved murders. Good friends and sometime rivals William Fleisher, Frank Bender, and Richard Walter decided one day over lunch that something had to be done, and pledged themselves to a grand quest for justice. The Murder Room draws the reader into a chilling, darkly humorous, awe-inspiring world as the three partners travel far from their Victorian dining room to hunt ruthless killers, among them the grisly murderer of a millionaire’s son, a serial killer who carves off faces, and a child killer enjoying fifty years of freedom and dark fantasy. Acclaimed bestselling author Michael Capuzzo brings true crime realistically and vividly to life in this account of a group of passionate men and women, inspired by their own wounded hearts to make a stand for truth, goodness, and justice in a world gone mad.
Thrilling, true tales from the Vidocq Society, a team of the world’s finest forensic investigators whose monthly gourmet lunches lead to justice in ice-cold murders Three of the greatest detectives in the world–a renowned FBI agent turned private eye, a sculptor and lothario who speaks to the dead, and an eccentric profiler known as “the living Sherlock Holmes”-were heartsick over the growing tide of unsolved murders. Good friends and sometime rivals William Fleisher, Frank Bender, and Richard Walter decided one day over lunch that something had to be done, and pledged themselves to a grand quest for justice. The three men invited the greatest collection of forensic investigators ever assembled, drawn from five continents, to the Downtown Club in Philadelphia to begin an audacious quest: to bring the coldest killers in the world to an accounting. Named for the first modern detective, the Parisian eugène François Vidocq-the flamboyant Napoleonic real-life sleuth who inspired Sherlock Holmes-the Vidocq Society meets monthly in its secretive chambers to solve a cold murder over a gourmet lunch. The Murder Room draws the reader into a chilling, darkly humorous, awe-inspiring world as the three partners travel far from their Victorian dining room to hunt the ruthless killers of a millionaire’s son, a serial killer who carves off faces, and a child killer enjoying fifty years of freedom and dark fantasy. Acclaimed bestselling author Michael Capuzzo’s brilliant storytelling brings true crime to life more realistically and vividly than it has ever been portrayed before. It is a world of dazzlingly bright forensic science; true evil as old as the Bible and dark as the pages of Dostoevsky; and a group of flawed, passionate men and women, inspired by their own wounded hearts to make a stand for truth, goodness, and justice in a world gone mad.
Four time-Pulitzer Prize nominee MICHAEL CAPUZZO has won countless awards for his writing, including the National Headliner Award and the Sunday Magazine Editors’ Association award for best magazine story. In addition to authoring four books on animals (WILD THINGS, MUTTS:… More about Michael Capuzzo
What is the Vidocq society?
The Vidocq Society is a group of the world’s greatest detectives who meet monthly in Philadelphia, in an old Victorian dining room, to solve cold murders over a hot lunch. They range from psychics to forensic artists and FBI agents and Scotland Yard, like a real-life CSI on steroids. If a grave injustice has been done, and VSM feel they can help, they will work pro bono for years to bring a cold killer to justice and help a suffering family find closure.
How did you find out about it, and why did you want to write about it?
After I finished my book Close to Shore, an historical thriller about the story that inspired Jaws, I stumbled across the Vidocq Society web site describing this pro bono group of famous investigators devoted to “Cuisine and Crime.” I was hooked.
This is not your first book. What were the unique challenges of writing The Murder Room?
Weaving dozens of true-life murder cases along a twenty-year timeline through the eyes of three major characters and scores of other detectives and victims and getting the facts right and trying to convey personality and character conflicts was sort of like weaving a 10-by-12 Persian rug, which I don’t know how to do. But I would probably ruin a lot of fabric. Like all writing, it was torture until it wasn’t. Then it was fun.
What is your favorite case covered in the book, and why?
There is no happy ending in murder, but my favorite cases are the ones where the bad guy gets caught.
When you first decided to write about the Vidocq society, did you come up against any resistance? How did you overcome that?
It took years, in some cases, to establish trust with the three partners and, by extension, the more than 100 forensic experts in the society – they’re cops, after all, and I’m a journalist. The professions don’t historically exchange Christmas cards. I went to Christmas and New Year’s eve parties with the principal characters, dined with their families, drank vodka at odd hours, attended national conventions like the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and the Parents of Murdered Children, where I was one of the few parents in the ballroom of a thousand people in the ballroom whose children hadn’t been killed.
After having written this book and spent time with Richard, William and Frank, does it make you feel differently about goodness in humanity?
Yes. I think the continual lesson of human nature, should we choose to accept it, is that evil is real and in its shadow good then shines with an even brighter light. The men and women who confront psychopathic criminals and murderers aren’t perfect, no humans are. But they’re heroes, there’s no doubt about that. They allow us to live the good life, and ought to be better appreciated.
Do you feel that you have the tools to go out and solve cold cases now?
No. The more I learn about criminal investigative techniques, crime assessment and profiling, I become even more aware of my limits. I am struck, though, that the best detectives seem to have a writer’s imagination and storytelling ability, a novelists’ insight into human nature. DNA doesn’t catch crooks, brilliant detectives do. The human mind, the ability to grasp the irrational, is still paramount in murder investigations.
What were your biggest surprises?
How Walter, Bender, and Fleisher were classic products of and inheritors of the tradition of the brilliant outsider-detective that goes back to E.F. Vidocq, and encompasses Sherlock Holmes and all our popular detective novels. That the descent to the darkest evil mirrors the ascent to good in a way reminiscent of Dante’s Inferno, and that atheist cops inevitably sound like 17th Century bishops because they’re working the same vineyard of good and evil. That the world’s best investigators bear little resemblance to what I see on TV or read in many thrillers. They love their lives.
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