Pedestrian account of the investigation and trial of an unusually monstrous parricide. On March 31, 1984, Judias Buenoano was convicted of first- degree murder, and is now on Florida's death row. Buenoano poisoned two husbands and her son; when arsenic left the boy only partially paralyzed, she took him fishing and shoved him (he wore steel leg braces weighing 50 pounds) out of the boat. She then blew up her boyfriend in his car—the crime that led to her arrest. Shortly before killing her victims, she took out multiple life-insurance policies on them, and for 12 years evaded discovery by moving to new communities. Anderson and McGehee, an N.Y.C. husband-and-wife writing-producing team, re-create the story through a chronicle- -assembled through interviews and court and medical records—of the work of Ted Chamberlain, the Pensacola detective who made the case against the killer. Buenoano is an interesting murderess, and the authors vividly re-create the milieu in which she operated. Their invented dialogue, however, is wooden when supplying narrative detail (``The victim, a John Gentry, white male, thirty-six, had already been taken to Sacred Heart Hospital...'') and clichÇd when used to convey personality (``That's mighty white of you buddy''). Through this clumsy treatment, Chamberlain comes off as a brooding Neanderthal. Since Buenoano was an inept killer and making the case against her was a routine assembling of evidence, the real interest in her story is psychological: One wishes that instead of padding their book with court testimony (more than 100 pages), the authors had probed deeper into Buenoano's background. Buenoano's madness harks back to Victorian England, when coldblooded and elaborately schemed murders of families by a spouse were more common; even contrasted to those, the crime here is particularly heinous. A book that students of murder will want to have despite its flaws. (Eight pages of photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-8184-0542-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1991

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...


The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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