An intricately crafted and suspenseful book sure to please any fan of true crime—and plenty of readers beyond.

WE KEEP THE DEAD CLOSE

A MURDER AT HARVARD AND A HALF CENTURY OF SILENCE

A former New Yorker editorial staff member documents the decade she spent investigating the unsolved 1969 murder of a female Harvard graduate student.

Cooper first heard rumors of Jane Britton’s murder as a junior in college in 2009, and she was immediately seized by the story, which centered around Britton’s supposed affair with a married professor who allegedly killed her when she threatened to reveal details of their relationship. The more she learned about the young woman, the more she felt “connected to her with a certainty more alchemical than rational,” but Cooper also worried about how far as “omnipotent” an institution as Harvard “[would] go to make sure the story stayed buried.” Only after she returned to New York in 2012, however, did the author begin fully investigating the details behind Jane’s grisly, quasi-ritualistic death. She returned to scouring the internet for information before going undercover that fall as a Harvard undergraduate to learn more about the married professor suspected of Britton’s murder. In the months and years that followed, Cooper covertly interviewed graduate students and Jane’s friends, joined an online group of amateur sleuths, and researched articles in newspapers including the Harvard Crimson. Details emerged that not only complicated the story, but revealed other suspects as well as a tangled web of personal secrets and systemic betrayals on the parts of Harvard and law enforcement. Jane’s story became less about the fact of a murder mystery that DNA evidence eventually solved in 2018 and more about institutional sexism, academic corruption and abuse, and the seductive power of narrative. Interspersed throughout with photos and riveting plot twists, this book succeeds as both a true-crime story and a powerful portrait of a young woman’s remarkable quest for justice.

An intricately crafted and suspenseful book sure to please any fan of true crime—and plenty of readers beyond.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5387-4683-7

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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Consistently illuminating, unabashedly ferocious writing.

GIRLHOOD

An acclaimed nonfiction writer gathers essays embracing the pleasure, pain, and power of growing up as a girl and woman.

In her latest powerful personal and cultural examination, Febos interrogates the complexities of feminism and the "darkness" that has defined much of her life and career. In "Kettle Holes," she describes how experiences of humiliation at the hands of a boy she loved helped shape some of the pleasure she later found working as a dominatrix (an experience she vividly recounted in her 2010 book, Whip Smart). As she fearlessly plumbed the depths of her precocious sexuality in private, she watched in dismay as patriarchal society transformed her into a "passive thing.” In "Wild America," the author delves into body-shaming issues, recounting how, during adolescence, self-hatred manifested as a desire to physically erase herself and her "gigantic" hands. Only later, in the love she found with a lesbian partner, did she finally appreciate the pleasure her hands could give her and others. Febos goes on to explore the complicated nature of mother-daughter relationships in "Thesmophoria,” writing about the suffering she brought to her mother through lies and omissions about clandestine—and sometimes dangerous—sexual experiments and youthful flirtations with crystal meth and heroin. Their relationship was based on the "ritual violence" that informed the Persephone/Demeter dyad, in which the daughter alternately brought both pain and joy to her mother. "Intrusions" considers how patriarchy transforms violence against women into narratives of courtship that pervert the meaning of love. In "Thank You for Taking Care of Yourself," Febos memorably demonstrates how the simple act of platonic touching can be transformed into a psychosexual minefield for women. Profound and gloriously provocative, this book—a perfect follow-up to her equally visceral previous memoir, Abandon Me (2017)—transforms the wounds and scars of lived female experience into an occasion for self-understanding that is both honest and lyrical.

Consistently illuminating, unabashedly ferocious writing.

Pub Date: March 30, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63557-252-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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IN COLD BLOOD

"There's got to be something wrong with somebody who'd do a thing like that." This is Perry Edward Smith, talking about himself. "Deal me out, baby...I'm a normal." This is Richard Eugene Hickock, talking about himself. They're as sick a pair as Leopold and Loeb and together they killed a mother, a father, a pretty 17-year-old and her brother, none of whom they'd seen before, in cold blood. A couple of days before they had bought a 100 foot rope to garrote them—enough for ten people if necessary. This small pogrom took place in Holcomb, Kansas, a lonesome town on a flat, limitless landscape: a depot, a store, a cafe, two filling stations, 270 inhabitants. The natives refer to it as "out there." It occurred in 1959 and Capote has spent five years, almost all of the time which has since elapsed, in following up this crime which made no sense, had no motive, left few clues—just a footprint and a remembered conversation. Capote's alternating dossier Shifts from the victims, the Clutter family, to the boy who had loved Nancy Clutter, and her best friend, to the neighbors, and to the recently paroled perpetrators: Perry, with a stunted child's legs and a changeling's face, and Dick, who had one squinting eye but a "smile that works." They had been cellmates at the Kansas State Penitentiary where another prisoner had told them about the Clutters—he'd hired out once on Mr. Clutter's farm and thought that Mr. Clutter was perhaps rich. And this is the lead which finally broke the case after Perry and Dick had drifted down to Mexico, back to the midwest, been seen in Kansas City, and were finally picked up in Las Vegas. The last, even more terrible chapters, deal with their confessions, the law man who wanted to see them hanged, back to back, the trial begun in 1960, the post-ponements of the execution, and finally the walk to "The Corner" and Perry's soft-spoken words—"It would be meaningless to apologize for what I did. Even inappropriate. But I do. I apologize." It's a magnificent job—this American tragedy—with the incomparable Capote touches throughout. There may never have been a perfect crime, but if there ever has been a perfect reconstruction of one, surely this must be it.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 1965

ISBN: 0375507906

Page Count: 343

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1965

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