PRESUMED GUILTY by Stephen Singular


An Investigation into the JonBenet Ramsey Case, the Media and the Culture of Pornography
Email this review


Veteran crime journalist Singular (Talked to Death, 1987, etc.) offers an original perspective on the sadly epochal killing of JonBenet Ramsey. Singular was in Boulder, Colo., for much of the investigation, and he methodically details its progress, acutely portraying a volatile situation. He depicts many key players, from DA Alex Hunter and various investigators to talk-radio rabble-rousers and Globe scandalmongers; he asserts that the latter parties bear great responsibility for confusing the public perception of the case and for inflaming tensions among the DA, the cops, and other factions to the point where the investigation may be stalemated. He focuses on the carnivorous mode of the mass media, particularly their lurid, immediate indictment of the Ramsey parents. Singular’s perceptive exploration of the near-universal call for the Ramseys’ heads reveals the gritty power struggles and class schisms that underlie the shiny, comforting facade of the Boulder region. Unlike his dirt-chasing peers, he gives nuanced attention to an unsettling aspect of the case that he considers overlooked yet central: the gray area in which the mainstreamed commodification of children’s sexuality collides with the abuse of child pornography. JonBenet was merely one of many little girls leeringly displayed as things of beauty by the pageant industry, whose evil twin is the underground of child porn producers and collectors, hugely expanded because of the Internet. Although the author claims at points to have uncovered voluminous evidence, he incorporates few of the particulars, giving his odyssey its own patina of conspiracy theory. Singular’s ultimate scenario—that neither parent personally murdered JonBenet, but one parent’s unwitting involvement led to attempts at concealment—bears consideration, but like this subtly rendered book, may well go unheard in the collective din. Without fully lighting the dark corners of an unappealing realm, Singular has produced a balanced, detailed, thoughtful consideration of an incident usually reduced to cultural dissonance. (First printing of 100,000; $100,000 ad/promo)

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 1-893224-00-7
Page count: 241pp
Publisher: New Millennium
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1999


NonfictionTHE SPIRAL NOTEBOOK by Stephen Singular
by Stephen Singular
NonfictionTHE WICHITA DIVIDE by Stephen Singular
by Stephen Singular
NonfictionWHEN MEN BECOME GODS by Stephen Singular
by Stephen Singular


NonfictionTHE SPIRAL NOTEBOOK by Stephen Singular
by Stephen Singular