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The True Story of a Hotel Heir, His Seductive Wife, and a Ruthless Murder

by John Glatt

Pub Date: April 16th, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-250-03572-1
Publisher: St. Martin's

Investigative reporter and true-crime vet Glatt (Love Her to Death, 2012, etc.) turns his attention to the story of a rich playboy’s gruesome murder.

The author isn’t content simply recounting the tempestuous relationship between Ben Novack Jr. and his wife, Narcy, and how it ultimately led to his death. He explores Novack’s childhood at the Fontainebleau as well as the design, construction and sordid history of the Miami Beach hotel. Readers will be regaled with stories of Sinatra’s escapades, possible mob ties, Novack Sr.’s business acumen and the long-standing argument over who had the idea for the curved architecture. All this history adds color to Novack Jr.’s early life and provides important perspective on his personality. But some of the color—particularly when the plot has moved past his time at the hotel—just seems out of place. After his father lost the Fontainebleau, Novack Jr. started a business and became a millionaire in his own right. Early on, he married his second wife, Narcy, and insisted on a severe prenuptial contract which stipulated that if the two divorced, she would walk away with only $65,000. Prosecutors, family members, the author and a jury all believed this was her motive for murder. According to Novack’s will, she would inherit his multimillion-dollar fortune if he died while they were still married. Glatt goes into great detail explaining the plot Narcy and her brother used to get the fortune, including killing Novack’s mother so that none of his money would go to her after his death. Though the narrative is mostly smooth, the detail can be overwhelming, and the thread occasionally gets lost in the minutiae of failed car repairs, costume changes and other unnecessary bits.

Though not always polished, the writing is generally solid, and the story is interesting enough to keep most true-crime fans happy.