Email this review


An engrossing true-crime report dramatizing the November 18, 1986, murder of Pan Am stewardess Helle Craft, whose murdered body was purportedly frozen by her husband, then fed through an industrial-sized woodchipper to dispose of the evidence. Herzog's other books include both nonfiction (Vesco: From Wall Street to Castro's Cuba) and fiction (Heat, The Swarm, etc.). When gun collector and pilot Richard Craft--who had been discovered by a private detective hired by his wife to be involved in two simultaneous extramarital affairs--decided to rub out his 39-year-old Danish-born wife, he sought to make his crime ""perfect"" by eliminating the habeas corpus. After being confronted by Helle with her evidence of his affairs, Craft began plotting his crime--purchasing in cash a new freezer chest five days before the crime, and renting a 4220-pound Brush Bandit woodchipper capable of shredding logs 12 inches in diameter. On the night of the crime, a rare November snowstorm blew through Craft's Newton, Conn., area, leading to a crucial slip in Craft's plan: he passed a local highway worker, who immediately became curious as to just why anybody would be hauling a woodchipper in a snowstorm. Later searches near the shore of Lake Zoar, where the machine was spotted, turned up human fragments (parts of a thumb, a big toe, and a minute skull chip, as well as pieces of paper carrying Helle's name). Herzog turns his novelistic experience to good use here, chronicling a stomach-churning case that, unfortunately, ended with a mistrial, thanks to a hold-out juror's decision to stalk out of the jury room.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1989
ISBN: 0595183549
Publisher: Henry Holt