LOVERS OF DECEIT

CAROLYN WARMUS AND THE 'FATAL ATTRACTION' MURDER

A convoluted, behind-the-scenes look at the Westchester County murder case that titillated tabloid readers with its purported parallels to the Hollywood shocker Fatal Attraction. Told by a reporter who covered the case for the Westchester Gannett newspaper chain, this overextended narrative features a trio of adulterers, an heiress-turned-murderer, shady p.i.s, and cops of staggering incompetence: sleaze and slapstick in the suburbs. In the late 80's, 25-year-old Carolyn Warmus, a computer instructor in Pleasantville, New York, was engaged in a torrid affair with married fellow-teacher Paul Solomon—whose wife, Betty Jeanne, was also having an affair. Despite having slept with several married men, Warmus became obsessed with Solomon and talked continually of marrying him—but he sidestepped commitment. When, in January 1989, Betty Jeanne was shot dead while home alone, suspicion centered on her husband, whose alibi was quickly proved false—at the time of the death, he actually had been on his way to a steamy rendezvous with Warmus. A report eventually surfaced that Warmus had recently purchased a handgun and silencer from a tawdry p.i. she'd hired to track another lover, but the gun was never found and the police investigation dragged on. Meanwhile, Solomon avoided Warmus and, less than six months after his wife's death, took up with another woman. Warmus lost control, dogging Solomon and his new love to Puerto Rico and harassing friends and relatives of the pair with threatening phone calls. Finally, Warmus was charged with Betty Jeanne's murder, largely on circumstantial evidence. The first trial ended in a hung jury but, in a retrial, the accused was found guilty. She's now serving a 25-year-to-life sentence. Overly detailed with legal technicalities, and the portrait of the spoiled and sociopathic Warmus remains vague and uninflected. Of interest, then, mostly for its revelations about police fumbling of the case. (Eight pages of b&w photographs—not seen)

Pub Date: June 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-385-41684-9

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1993

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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 48 LAWS OF POWER

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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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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