The Fact of a Body
Before Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich begins a summer job at a law firm in Louisiana, working to help defend men accused of murder, she thinks her position is clear. The child of two lawyers, she is staunchly anti-death penalty. But the moment convicted murderer Ricky Langley’s face flashes on the screen as she reviews old tapes―the moment she hears him speak of his crimes―she is overcome with the feeling of wanting him to die. Shocked by her reaction, she digs deeper and deeper into the case. Despite their vastly different circumstances, something in his story is unsettlingly, uncannily familiar.Crime, even the darkest and most unsayable acts, can happen to any one of us. As Alexandria pores over the facts of the murder, she finds herself thrust into the complicated narrative of Ricky’s childhood. And by examining the details of Ricky’s case, she is forced to face her own story, to unearth long-buried family secrets, and reckon with a past that colors her view of Ricky's crime.But another surprise awaits: She wasn’t the only one who saw her life in Ricky’s.An intellectual and emotional thriller that is also a different kind of murder mystery, The Fact Of a Body is a book not only about how the story of one crime was constructed―but about how we grapple with our own personal histories. Along the way it tackles questions about the nature of forgiveness, and if a single narrative can ever really contain something as definitive as the truth. This groundbreaking, heart-stopping work, ten years in the making, shows how the law is more personal than we would like to believe―and the truth more complicated, and powerful, than we could ever imagine.

The Fact of a Body Details

TitleThe Fact of a Body
Author
FormatHardcover
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMay 16th, 2017
PublisherFlatiron Books
ISBN1250080541
ISBN-139781250080547
Number of pages336 pages
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Crime, True Crime, Autobiography, Memoir, Mystery, Biography, Thriller, Mystery Thriller, Biography Memoir, Adult

The Fact of a Body Review

  • Susan
    April 24, 2017
    It is hard to categorise this book – partly, it is the disturbing story of a murder, but it is much more than that. Part memoir, written almost as a novel, this is a painful, thoughtful account of a crime and how it affected those involved , but also how it changed the life of author Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich. The author is the daughter of a lawyer and, as long as she can remember, she recalls being fascinated by the law. At the age of twenty five, she went to New Orleans to fight the death p It is hard to categorise this book – partly, it is the disturbing story of a murder, but it is much more than that. Part memoir, written almost as a novel, this is a painful, thoughtful account of a crime and how it affected those involved , but also how it changed the life of author Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich. The author is the daughter of a lawyer and, as long as she can remember, she recalls being fascinated by the law. At the age of twenty five, she went to New Orleans to fight the death penalty, by interning with a law firm that represented people accused of murder. The author believed her views and opinions were set in stone, but then she meets Ricky Langley, who is facing the death penalty for the murder of six year old Jeremy Guillory. Jeremy was the son of a single mother, Lorilei; who was pregnant with her second child when Jeremy went missing. Marzano-Lesnevich entwines the story of Lorilei and Jeremy, with that of Ricky Langley and with that of her own life. I have no wish to give spoilers in this review and you need to read this book in order to discover the links between those involved. However, this is a book about how the past impacts the present. About how families have secrets and how life is not as clear cut as we imagine it to be. There are grey areas which, unlike in a novel, are not easily wrapped up, completed, finished or put away. We carry our life experiences with us and they colour our opinions, shape our present and influence our future. This is a beautifully written, very moving book, in which every person touched by events are dealt with sympathetically and with respect. I am glad that I read it. I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, for review.
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  • Liz Barnsley
    March 16, 2017
    The Fact of a Body was less a non fiction narrative and more a work of art – I don’t think I have been sucked into a book in the way this one sucked me in for a good long while. Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich writes with such a beautiful, haunting quality that gets over so many layers of emotional depth whilst still keeping it factual and real, that you can one moment be feeling like you are watching events unfold in real time and the next sobbing like a baby at one small sentence that says everyt The Fact of a Body was less a non fiction narrative and more a work of art – I don’t think I have been sucked into a book in the way this one sucked me in for a good long while. Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich writes with such a beautiful, haunting quality that gets over so many layers of emotional depth whilst still keeping it factual and real, that you can one moment be feeling like you are watching events unfold in real time and the next sobbing like a baby at one small sentence that says everything.At the heart of it all is not only this killer, Ricky Langley, but also the author herself as she delves into her own mind and her own history in an attempt to understand that which cannot be understood. She takes you along on a journey of discovery, one of unpalatable realities, poignant self realisation and historical influence, it is at turns heart breaking, utterly riveting and melancholy, get ready to be hooked, unable to look away.The Fact of a Body often reads like a literary thriller, I found myself remembering with a jolt that these were real people living real lives – the author shows the mundane routine of living, alongside the telling events that informed eventual acts, alongside the things that cannot be explained no matter how much we may wish for a reason. Throughout the whole of the telling there are moments of quiet, occasional times you step away from the read and absorb what you have just learned – the historical detail, the absolute compassion with which the author allows the “characters” in this drama to live and breathe on the page is just stunning in its intensity. And we must not forget she is one of them – and does not hide from her own horrors simply lays them bare before us.This is a tangled, beautiful, intelligently told true story that will surprise you, an unravelling of human nature, a truly incredible look at the power of memory, the influences of life experience and that which we hide from ourselves – as well as that it is a truly compelling and absolutely gripping crime story and family memoir.I really cannot recommend this highly enough.
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  • Mike Scalise
    January 15, 2017
    If you are a fan of true crime, this book is excellent. If you are a fan of memoir, this book is excellent. If you are a fan of legal thrillers, this book is excellent. If you are a fan of beautiful language, this book is excellent. If you are a fan of page-turners, this book is excellent. If you are a fan of boundlessly empathetic storytelling and brilliant questions about the meaning of acceptance, this book is excellent. If you are a fan of a scene in which one character manages, maybe, to ha If you are a fan of true crime, this book is excellent. If you are a fan of memoir, this book is excellent. If you are a fan of legal thrillers, this book is excellent. If you are a fan of beautiful language, this book is excellent. If you are a fan of page-turners, this book is excellent. If you are a fan of boundlessly empathetic storytelling and brilliant questions about the meaning of acceptance, this book is excellent. If you are a fan of a scene in which one character manages, maybe, to have sex while in a body cast, this book is excellent. If you are a fan of all of these things together, you have to read this book. It is excellent.
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  • Jessica Woodbury
    December 6, 2016
    Writing true crime nonfiction is a delicate task. I don't think most authors in the genre treat it delicately enough. I used to be a public defender, so I don't tend to romanticize crimes or criminals, to me they are regular people, not all that different from anyone else. Victims are just people, too. But in true crime sometimes it feels like it is not about real people and instead it's about characters and stories. I have trouble reading that kind of book because I cannot forget that these are Writing true crime nonfiction is a delicate task. I don't think most authors in the genre treat it delicately enough. I used to be a public defender, so I don't tend to romanticize crimes or criminals, to me they are regular people, not all that different from anyone else. Victims are just people, too. But in true crime sometimes it feels like it is not about real people and instead it's about characters and stories. I have trouble reading that kind of book because I cannot forget that these are real people and I tend to cringe and feel uncomfortable as their whole lives are spilled out for public consumption.So I was a little skeptical when Flatiron Books sent me The Fact of a Body. But in Marzano-Lesnevich's combination memoir/true crime, every single person is handled with such delicacy and respect that reading about them feels more like an act of connection and communion than bystander gawking. I read another combination memoir/true crime a few months ago whose title is not worth mentioning. It was such a failure that I wasn't sure what a successful version would look like. But Marzano-Lesnevich has done it. As an intern at a capital murder defense firm, M-L encounters the case of Ricky Langley on her first day. She becomes obsessed with the case, and it seems an unlikely obsession: Langley has killed (and likely molested) a 6-year-old boy. In the book, M-L slowly begins to share stories of her own life, transporting us to what appears to be a happy family with her parents and 3 siblings. It is not spoiling much to reveal that M-L was molested as a child, it is the only real explanation for her particular obsession with Ricky and the boy he killed, Jeremy. But M-L doesn't tell us this for ages, trusting that we'll get lost in the details of Ricky's crime and his own difficult life before we see the uniting thread.Once we encounter the details of the crime committed against M-L, the book takes on a new level of importance and much of what has been shared with us begins to fall into place. Why it's so important for M-L to recreate the stories of everyone involved in the crime, reimagining them and building them for us to discover. And it explains the care with which she does so. She is looking for herself, of course, looking for the stories from her own life and the lives around her echoed. For the most part, the author's recreations feel real and emotionally true. And if they fail occasionally, we never lose sight of the author herself and the understanding of what this story is and why she is telling it to us. This is a devastatingly honest memoir, it's rare a writer opens themselves and their history up to a reader this way. Readers who think they may not be able to read the story of a child murder or molestation should definitely skip it. The author does not overlook details or try to take a rosy picture and these crimes are central to the narrative. As the parent of a boy around the same age as Ricky Langley's victim there were several moments where it hit me in the gut, even though I have read my fair share of police reports and don't get easily rattled.
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  • Darcia Helle
    April 15, 2017
    I want to tell you that this book is compelling, well written, powerful, and thought-provoking, which it is, but it is also so much more, and I find myself grappling for the right words. The true crime aspect of this book is written like the best suspense novel, with the kind of depth and feeling you don't often find in this genre. The author handles the subject and all the people involved with unexpected tenderness, turning them over and examining them with compassion and an honest need to unde I want to tell you that this book is compelling, well written, powerful, and thought-provoking, which it is, but it is also so much more, and I find myself grappling for the right words. The true crime aspect of this book is written like the best suspense novel, with the kind of depth and feeling you don't often find in this genre. The author handles the subject and all the people involved with unexpected tenderness, turning them over and examining them with compassion and an honest need to understand. She never exploits the victim or demonizes the killer. She doesn't look for excuses, only reasons. Interspersed throughout, the author tells her own story. We go with her, deep into this dysfunctional family that works so hard at appearances. We feel her confusion, fear, and disconnect. We learn why Ricky Langley's case gets under her skin and festers, and how chasing his story brings closure for her own past. Within these pages, the author shows us the truth of a world clouded with shades of gray. Our legal system in particular likes to frame issues with a clear good guy and bad guy, but rarely is anything so simple. And sometimes we find forgiveness in the most unexpected places.*I was provided with an advance ebook copy from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review.*
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  • Michele
    February 25, 2017
    *I received an Uncorrected Proof/ Advanced Readers Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*This book was difficult for me to read. The story jumps from character to character, present day to the near past, and then to the far past without rhyme or reason. I felt like I was reading stream of consciousness from an ADHD affected writer. My daughter is ADHD, so I get told stories that jump all over from her. Reading this was like being in my daughters head. UGH! As an Uncorrected Proof, t *I received an Uncorrected Proof/ Advanced Readers Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*This book was difficult for me to read. The story jumps from character to character, present day to the near past, and then to the far past without rhyme or reason. I felt like I was reading stream of consciousness from an ADHD affected writer. My daughter is ADHD, so I get told stories that jump all over from her. Reading this was like being in my daughters head. UGH! As an Uncorrected Proof, the copy I read had so many errors in it. I think the initial proof reader quit after chapter 14, and picked back up for the last two chapters. Glaring errors. Missing words, repeating words, extra words that were obviously meant to be deleted when sentence was changed. I've read first drafts that had less errors! But such is the case with many ARC books. I hope this manuscript was gone over again before being sent for final publication. The story was interesting though, so I mustered on. I will try to leave most spoilers out, but a few may get through. The book opens with a young lawyer getting ready to sit in on a case which is about trying to get a troubled man sentenced to life instead of getting the death penalty. The issues regarding failures of "The System" shine through. Abuses of family members being passed down from generation to generation like heirlooms is brought to light. The parallels between the author's life and the murderer's are striking. Unfortunately, at the end I was left with the feeling that the author thinks Everyone has been molested at one time or another in their life. For a memoir to be written, as she says, "To help heal", I came away feeling like she wasn't healed, but angry and cynical.WARNING: This book contains triggers of many kinds. Within these pages nearly every violent act is brought up. Child molestation; incest; death of children through illness, accident, and murder. Marital rape is suggested and a near- rape situation on a college campus. Drug and alcohol use/abuse.
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  • Courtney Maum
    February 6, 2017
    If it were judged on its reportage alone, "The Fact of a Body" would be hailed as a literary marvel: Marzano-Lesnevich writes in a lucid and cinematic prose that allows us to be with the characters through every harrowing action, course-correction, mistake. But the fact that she manages to weave an entire memoir into the story as well makes this book a masterpiece. Even though it was a tough read because of the subject matter, I couldn't put it down. Both Lesnevich's account of a pedophile's man If it were judged on its reportage alone, "The Fact of a Body" would be hailed as a literary marvel: Marzano-Lesnevich writes in a lucid and cinematic prose that allows us to be with the characters through every harrowing action, course-correction, mistake. But the fact that she manages to weave an entire memoir into the story as well makes this book a masterpiece. Even though it was a tough read because of the subject matter, I couldn't put it down. Both Lesnevich's account of a pedophile's many roads to murder and her unflinching revelations of her own experiences with abuse were maddening and haunting to watch in "real time" on the page, and yet, the author's persistence to try to understand all possible viewpoints infuses the narrative with emotional surprise and deep compassion. A courageous and unforgettable book. Would give a zillion stars if I could.
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  • Cate (The Professional Fangirl)
    May 2, 2017
    Many thanks to Flatiron Books for this ARC!
  • Nancy
    December 17, 2016
    An immersive true crime memoir that is so well written! Intimate yet global, covering themes of forgiveness, truth, and storytelling.
  • Loveallbooks88
    January 28, 2017
    Excellent book, it combined my love of mystery, true crime and memoir. Thank you, Goodreads, for providing me with an Advance Reader Copy! Definitely recommend to all readers!
  • Alyson Larrabee
    April 1, 2017
    Stories like these made the phrase "grim reality" into a cliche. This was difficult to read because the author's pain bleeds through on every page. She was an intern at a law firm, researching the case of a child molester/murderer. Ricky Langley molested and murdered a six year old boy. The law firm she was interning for was trying to save him from the death penalty. During her research and investigation she bravely explored and relived her own history as the victim of a child molester, her gran Stories like these made the phrase "grim reality" into a cliche. This was difficult to read because the author's pain bleeds through on every page. She was an intern at a law firm, researching the case of a child molester/murderer. Ricky Langley molested and murdered a six year old boy. The law firm she was interning for was trying to save him from the death penalty. During her research and investigation she bravely explored and relived her own history as the victim of a child molester, her grandfather. The details of these parallel stories (hers and the six year old boy's) were extremely tough to read, emotionally affecting and depressing. I kept telling myself, "If she could live it and write it, the least I can do is read it." And I persevered. I can't say I enjoyed this book, but I admire its author tremendously. My heart and my admiration also goes out to the six year old victim and his family and friends. Ms. Marzan-Lesnevich's story changed me. If there's a theme in this story that we can all learn something from, it's a lesson about keeping secrets to maintain the status quo, to save face socially. So many adults in these children's lives let them down. Parenthood is a huge honor and a huge responsibility. The author's parents did not honor these concepts and she exposes them in her story. She's the David who finally stood up to their Goliath. I received an ARC copy of this book through a Goodreads Giveaway. In a way, I wish I hadn't won it and read it, but if I learned anything from reading this book, it's to face up to and explore disturbing truths. We owe it to our collective children to read books like The Fact of a Body.The four stars (instead of five) is because there was a lot of repetition.
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  • Heather
    March 21, 2017
    I really enjoyed this book, as much as one can enjoy a book dealing with such subject matter. I found it to be a touching, difficult, and surprising journey. Admittedly, what first drew my interest to this book was the crime. I'm a true crime junkie for better or worse and while I knew the focus would not entirely be on Jeremy Guillory and his brief life, it's what drew me in. I appreciated Marzano-Lesnevich's alternating chapters style of divulging the story. There was just enough information i I really enjoyed this book, as much as one can enjoy a book dealing with such subject matter. I found it to be a touching, difficult, and surprising journey. Admittedly, what first drew my interest to this book was the crime. I'm a true crime junkie for better or worse and while I knew the focus would not entirely be on Jeremy Guillory and his brief life, it's what drew me in. I appreciated Marzano-Lesnevich's alternating chapters style of divulging the story. There was just enough information in each chapter to keep you interested and invested. Speaking out about sexual abuse is taboo. I find it incredibly brave of the author to share her experience and in such an honest, frank way. Her struggle is evident and it was enlightening as someone who has fortunately never experienced that form of abuse. My heart broke for her numerous times, much as it broke for poor Jeremy and yes, even Ricky too at times. This story is a good study in the multitude of ways human beings can respond to similar traumas. It's about choices, but it's also about damaged people and the ways we can overcome our demons or sometimes fail to. Things aren't always as simple as they seem. I struggle with my feelings in regard to the death penalty, and I think this story is a perfect example of how conflicting and complicated it becomes when you factor in the details and personal experiences that may color our perceptions. This was an emotional journey for me, but a very compelling read that I recommend if you are interested in the reconciliation of one woman's ideals and experiences through the lens of another's life.Thank you to Flatiron Books & Goodreads for the opportunity to review this selection.
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  • Eleanor
    April 23, 2017
    I liked a lot of the books I read in April, but none of them are going to stay with me like The Fact of a Body. Written by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich, a qualified lawyer with an MFA, it's part true crime narrated in flawless novelistic prose, part attempt to exorcise the ghosts of Marzano-Lesnevich's own abusive past. She does this by facing their echoes in the case of Ricky Langley, who admitted to killing a little boy called Jeremy Guillory in 1993. It's a stunning piece of work: never sensa I liked a lot of the books I read in April, but none of them are going to stay with me like The Fact of a Body. Written by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich, a qualified lawyer with an MFA, it's part true crime narrated in flawless novelistic prose, part attempt to exorcise the ghosts of Marzano-Lesnevich's own abusive past. She does this by facing their echoes in the case of Ricky Langley, who admitted to killing a little boy called Jeremy Guillory in 1993. It's a stunning piece of work: never sensationalistic, never sentimental, always sharply intelligent about the law and human nature, and yet full of understanding. I want it to be huge.
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  • Lisa Gregory
    February 4, 2017
    *I won a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*I wish I could give this book twenty stars! An incredible read! I thoroughly enjoyed this book, from the first word to the last. I didn't want to put it down, however, life kept getting in the way of my reading, which was quite frustrating because I was enthralled with the story. I literally hung on every word, felt every emotion, and saw every scene, as if I had crawled inside the story and watched everything unfold over Alexandria's s *I won a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*I wish I could give this book twenty stars! An incredible read! I thoroughly enjoyed this book, from the first word to the last. I didn't want to put it down, however, life kept getting in the way of my reading, which was quite frustrating because I was enthralled with the story. I literally hung on every word, felt every emotion, and saw every scene, as if I had crawled inside the story and watched everything unfold over Alexandria's shoulder.The premise of the story is very deep and so personal, yet, sadly, easily understood by so many. Two scenes in particular actually brought me to sobs, both of which brought me back in time and the issue of forgiveness for such a horrific deed. I am a strong believer that every horrible thing in life has beauty on the other side and the strength found in our personal horrors can be that beauty. Alexandria proves this to be true, in my opinion.The Fact of a Body touches so many emotions....emotions about our own inner demons, as well as our feelings about pedophilia, child abuse, and the twisted ways of the law, media, and a person's memory. I found the ending superb! How the facts and details of both stories conjure questions that are unanswerable, regardless of how badly we want, or need, those answers. The details of Ricky's final sentence, and Alexandria's insight into the "hole" that the jury, (knowingly or unknowingly), punched into the verdict, (due to the unfairness that surrounded this entire case), stayed with me long after I closed the book. I have many, many books in my library, many favorites, but only a few that are treasured, adored, read, and reread. It is those few that are never lent to anyone because the stories touch me so deeply and personally, and this book is absolutely, without question, one of them. I will definitely recommend this book to everyone I know, but I will be selfish with my copy.Preorder this book....buy it....read it.....you will love it!
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  • BETTY SHEREN
    March 17, 2017
    I won this book thru goodreads. With that being said , while I like to watch true crime shows on TV; I usually don't read crime story book. But I am so glad I did read this book. It was written so well that it put you right in the middle of things that are in everyday news. This book captured my attention from the first chapters till the end.
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  • Abe
    March 17, 2017
    I won this book on goodreads. This was a fascinating and courageous story. I highly recommend it.
  • Brittany Mills
    March 24, 2017
    The content of this book was heavy at times. I wouldn't suggest it to someone that may have a hard time dealing with stories about molestation. With that being said, I really liked this book. It was very well written. There were times I had to put it down because some of the stuff was weighing heavy on my mind, but I didn't want to put it down. I would suggest it to anyone that likes true crime.
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  • Kristy
    February 27, 2017
    ***I received an ARC from the publisher through Goodreads Giveaways.***The Fact of a Body brings up many questions, but especially whether or not justice can be truly served for children who have been sexually abused. Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich's story made me revisit my personal opinions about the death penalty, and I didn't necessarily feel good about what I found in my heart. That is the crux of this novel: looking inward and probing the deepest, darkest corners of your own system of justic ***I received an ARC from the publisher through Goodreads Giveaways.***The Fact of a Body brings up many questions, but especially whether or not justice can be truly served for children who have been sexually abused. Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich's story made me revisit my personal opinions about the death penalty, and I didn't necessarily feel good about what I found in my heart. That is the crux of this novel: looking inward and probing the deepest, darkest corners of your own system of justice.
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  • Ali
    February 28, 2017
    Thank you GoodReads for sending me a ARC of this book. The story was intriguing and told in a way that read like fiction. I actually had to look up the case to see if it was real). The first half really hooked me!
  • Ann Laskowski
    February 12, 2017
    I really liked this book. A little sad but it kept my interest. Good reading.
  • Sally
    February 2, 2017
    I don't normally read true crime. That being said, maybe that is part of my reaction. This book just jump back and forth between her life and that of the murderer and she is comparing herself too him most of the time. The reactions we have to our circumstances of how we handle our different situations. In this case it was really difficult for her and I for one can see why she was having such problems with choices and her reactions to her life. The book is good don't get me wrong but, I was left I don't normally read true crime. That being said, maybe that is part of my reaction. This book just jump back and forth between her life and that of the murderer and she is comparing herself too him most of the time. The reactions we have to our circumstances of how we handle our different situations. In this case it was really difficult for her and I for one can see why she was having such problems with choices and her reactions to her life. The book is good don't get me wrong but, I was left with questions. Yes, questions. I suppose because it was non fiction. Supposing it was fiction and I could have said ok, this is just how it is, but it is not is it? I wanted to know more about the legal case and more about why her family did not support her. Hey, will leave it there. Thank You
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  • Beth
    February 2, 2017
    A remarkable and horrific story, written as a part memoir, part legal drama, and part true-crime tale, sure to please fans of Serial, The Jinx, and Making a Murderer. Author Marzano-Lesnevich pulls no punches as she explores the three trials of a convicted pedophile-murderer and her own family's dark secrets that haunt her, and effectively make her give up her legal career. I was enthralled and given nightmares by this story, but it is excellently written and well researched.I was provided a cop A remarkable and horrific story, written as a part memoir, part legal drama, and part true-crime tale, sure to please fans of Serial, The Jinx, and Making a Murderer. Author Marzano-Lesnevich pulls no punches as she explores the three trials of a convicted pedophile-murderer and her own family's dark secrets that haunt her, and effectively make her give up her legal career. I was enthralled and given nightmares by this story, but it is excellently written and well researched.I was provided a copy as part of the Goodreads First Reads program. Thank you for the ARC!
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  • Andrew
    January 11, 2017
    Basically a true-story thriller as the author alternates between her work on a death-row case and her own discovery of the law. A genuine page-turner.***Some mild trigger warnings. The case in question is a child molestation case, and the author does discuss her own abuse. Not grisly or overly graphic, but it's there.***
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  • Jack King
    April 28, 2017
    I think....Hummm. If you are a fan of all of these things together, you have to read this book. It is excellent.... :d
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