Torpid, two-dimensional account of the 1981 kidnap/rape/slaying of Suzanne Rossetti, a 27-year-old woman from Saugus, Massachusetts, who, having moved to Phoenix, fell into the sadistic, murderous hands of a pair of psychopathic escaped cons whom she asked for help to get into her car when she locked the keys inside. Ingratiating themselves with the young woman, the criminals—Michael David Logan and Jesse James Gillies—abducted and repeatedly raped her, stole her car and banking card, and drove her to the isolated Superstition Mountains outside Phoenix, where they beat her to death. After covering Rossetti's body with stones, her murderers returned to Phoenix, where they withdrew money from her account by using her bank credit card (they failed to realize the transactions were recorded by TV cameras), drove her car about the city, drank beer, and, in Gillies's case, bragged about the murder. It is not surprising the two were quickly apprehended. Rossetti's story could have been a shocking narrative of the imminence of mindless violence on the streets of America today, but Watkins fails to bring much analysis or significance to his material. The character of both of the victim and the perpetrators remains, in the author's telling, frustratingly obscure. Rossetti is depicted as an ``all-American-girl,'' devoted to her family, athletic, and slightly awkward in social situations. Watkins is unable or unwilling to delve beneath this sitcom surface to explain how and, more importantly, why Rossetti retained her naivetÇ and passivity, even in the face of such violence. Logan and Gillies are somewhat more roundly sketched in. Even here, however, Watkins falls back on such pop-psychology chestnuts as, with Gillies, an undemonstrative mother, and, with Logan, an early family atmosphere that denigrated discipline. The psychological resonances of this bizarre and puzzling case are left unexplored. A missed opportunity to examine a disturbing confrontation between two extremes of American life—the false security of the middle class facing the rapacity and unreasoned fury of the criminal underbelly.
Read full book review >