The story of a Pennsylvania serial rapist who stood trial two decades after his assault on the author.
Mystery writer Winslow (The Red House, 2015) was a religiously chaste junior studying acting at Carnegie Mellon University in 1992 when she was violently raped in her apartment by Arthur Fryar. Police had few clues and little DNA to compare to the author’s forensic evidence, so the investigation stagnated—though the victim prodded the revolving team of detectives to continue sleuthing throughout the ensuing years. Winslow arrestingly depicts the rape and its harrowing physical and psychological fallouts as well as the undermining effects on her adult life as she struggled to connect emotionally and romantically with men. Though Fryar attacked another girl later that same year, his DNA only entered the criminal justice network after a drug arrest in 2002. After constant prodding, cold case rape kit DNA was reintroduced into the system, and matches were found to provide sufficient evidence to prosecute Fryar in 2013, but Winslow’s case remained unattributed to him. Her adult life as a married mother of two and an American expatriate living in “polite and formal and circumspect” Cambridge, England, was refocused on obsessively investigating Fryar herself and unearthing enough sound, actionable ties linking him to her assault. Winslow doggedly uncovered more about her rapist and prepared for a media-hyped trial with the aid of persistent investigators. Despite legal red tape—including Pennsylvania’s statute of limitation laws, which can only be overturned with DNA evidence—Fryar emerged as the smug prime suspect. Urgently written with forthright prose, the memoir’s serpentine suspense elements resemble the plot points seen in the kind of crime fiction the author writes herself. She doesn’t skimp on the intimate details of the intimidating court case or the mettle necessary to endure what proved to be a winding, mentally challenging, and ultimately disappointing journey toward retribution.
A potently rendered chronicle of rape and the clarity and closure achieved even when justice is only partially served.