Stainless Steel Droppings is hosting the RIP Challenge again this year, and I have boldly chosen to accept this challenge. I always mean to, and I think I always end up reading the books, but never seem to get around to doing the reviews. Shame, shame!
You know how I love a good nonfiction book, right? This one was right up my alley.
Author: Michael Capuzzo
Publisher: Penguin Group USA
Copyright: ebook August 10, 2010
Number of Pages: 427 (nook edition)
Reason for Reading: Do you not see that gorgeous cover? The dark red door, the cross, the gargoylish door knocker–plus, true story. What’s not to love?
Philosophers say the ultimate source of the story is the eternal human need to find, in the words of Joseph Campbell, “the promise enshrined in the Mysteries since the beginning of the world.” The prophets say it is our pathway through trials to the grace of God. A man of action might say the relevant point of more than a million years of human trial, error, and wisdom embedded in the story is entirely practical:
When the world breaks and needs fixing, the thing to do is find the right three men.
The Murder Room tells, on one level, the story of the Vidocq Society, a group of criminologists par excellence who meet together to dine and take on cases to solve, not for personal glory but to speak for those who no longer have voices with which to speak for themselves. The society, named after Sûreté founder Eugène François Vidocq, has 82 members, one for each year of Vidocq’s life. These members pledge themselves
to hunt down murderers in cold cases, punish the guilty, free the innocent, and avenge, protect, and succor families victimized by murder. They resolved to work pro bono rather than swat a golf ball around in Florida or Arizona. . . . The eighty-two of them pledged themselves to their cause until death, when the rosette would be pinned on another man or woman chosen to fight for a better world.
On another level, there are the stories of the three founders: Richard Walter, forensic psychologist; Frank Bender, celebrated forensic artist and ex-boxer; and William Lynn Fleisher, responsible for U.S. Customs law enforcement in three states, polygraph examiner, former FBI agent, and former Philly beat cop. Bender’s personality, larger than life, booms through the story as his magic fingers recreate the faces of the faceless. Walter is an aescetic man, cold and precise, brilliant; the two men often clash but their work together is brilliant. I found myself wishing I had the opportunity to visit with Bender. He is a fascinating man.
And then on another level are the stories of the victims and their families, the boy in the box being the theme that both begins and ends the book while twining everything together. Credit is rarely granted to the Vidocq Society for solving the crimes and bringing the perpetrators to justice, but they don’t work for credit or glory. They work for the dead and the bereaved, and thank heavens they do.
I don’t think I can praise this book highly enough. It’s brilliant.