Friday, May 08, 2015

Amanda Knox has been acquitted, but lingering questions remain. Lisa Wilson reviews DOUBT

Author's Note: Lisa Wilson and I have been partners in crime [writing] ever since Transcendence. Besides partnering on three books on the Oscar trial (Lisa actually provided input for two others as well, Revelations and Restitutio), we've worked together on all three phenomenally successful books on Jodi Arias.

Audacity was the first, and we're currently working on a fourth book, Vanity, due out in a few weeks.

The story of DOUBT began a few weeks ago, when Lisa traveled to Lake Como, in Lombardy, Italy (alas, not Perugia) and while she was away, I started Googling Amanda Knox.

I started writing a few opening sentences. Although DOUBT was intended to be another 'partnership book' I got so caught up in it, I ended up writing the whole damn thing on my own. By the time Lisa returned from Italy DOUBT was pretty much done and dusted. I've since put two more narrative outlines into the oven to simmer and stew.

 If Oscar was an introduction to true crime writing, and Jodi a full blooded immersion, Knox is a trial by fury. There seems to be a lot of money moving behind the schemes and a far larger PR apparatus pulling strings in this case.

It's a huge case spanning three countries (and apparently three cultures too) and two languages. There is also an interesting divide where it feels like the majority of people - certainly in America - are poster children for Knox's innocence. That may not be so, it may be that they are merely the most vocal. But it certainly feels like the mostly Seattle-based Knoxers outnumber the so-called (mostly-British) 'Guilters'.
I'm a South African, so I have no allegiance either way.  And I've approached this case like all the others.  Where does the evidence point?  Where does it lead us.  One of the most basic giveaways when it comes to guilt is 'amnesia'.  We see the fog descends on Oscar, Jodi, Robert Durst, Casey Anthony, and Amanda Knox.  In her memoir she talks about 'about redirecting slugs in the back garden' and dating 'a Mohawk kilt-wearing dude called DJ'. Describing Italy, Amanda even remembers pizza toppings in a Florence hotel.  It reminds one of Oscar remembering tile patterns and geometry, but when it comes to crucial moments, crucial hours, the fog descends. 

Another key giveaway when it comes to mendacity is giving a lot of extraneous information.  What do Oscar, Jodi, Durst and Amanda have in common.  They talk.  A lot.  But when it comes to the nitty gritty they have very little to say. But not nothing

DOUBT was published earlier this week. It's a #4 Amazon Bestseller and already has 7 reviews. Not surprisingly, the trolls have weighed in heavily right from the get go. I say not surprisingly because even when I simply announced I was working on this book, on my public Facebook profile, the first Knoxers went nuts.

Oscar has a vocal support group, and so does Jodi. But their supporters are like chattering chipmunks compared to these ogres. That I have stirred a hornets nest confirms two things to me:

1) DOUBT has hit the mark, otherwise those who see the case differently would have no reaction to it 2) Meredith Kercher's true story still has not been told, and that story - and her family - deserves

Lisa and I will be working on Dark Matter and Under Suspicion in the coming weeks. Below is Lisa's review of DOUBT.
Please note, in typical fashion Lisa - who is a friend - didn't give me a blind five star endorsement. She gave her qualified, but well reasoned 'authentic' support. Besides her generosity, her honesty is what I like most about her. 
DOUBT - a review by Lisa Wilson  

For seven years, I’ve been baffled about this murder. Running in circles with the rest of the world; trying to understand what’s real and what’s fabricated. It wasn’t until I read Nick van der Leek’s book that I saw a far more sinister side to this case than I ever imagined.

 True to the author’s style of investigation, he leaves no stone unturned and nobody immune from scrutiny. You’ll walk away with a motive and reconstruction that will chill you to the bone, and is highly plausible. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the assertion that this is a case of a foreigner falsely confessing under duress. Nobody wants to believe a young woman can suddenly commit murder. But sadly, how many times have we been here before? Sometimes motives are buried deep under the mire and it takes considerable digging to bring them to the surface. And that’s what’s been done here in this book. One very troubling fact in this case that can’t be explained away by Knox, no matter how hard she tries, is that she pinned the crime on an innocent man and let him sit in jail for two weeks. Have you ever honestly asked yourself under what conditions you would do the same? I think most people would answer - I'd never do that. So why did she?

For as widely publicized as this case has been, I couldn’t believe how much I learned from Doubt. You’ll be guided on a tour of the villa on the hill, and provided some fascinating insight into the roommates and their lifestyles. You’ll learn more about Perugia and the hot spots they hung out at. There are also some jaw-dropping details that are shared about drug use. By the time the author brings you to the week before the murder, you’ll feel like you’re standing right there on the plaza in Perugia, watching it unfold. It’s a powerful and engaging way to tell this story, especially since links are provided to all your resources. Everything from pictures to articles and videos – the author has given you links to everything you need.

I will admit, I still have a few more lingering questions about the evidence in this case. Believing somebody is guilty and proving it are two different things - obviously, considering the outcome of this case. But I feel like I’m a heck of a lot closer to understanding now, and the author has two more books coming out about this case. I will be the first person in line to read them!

 DOUBT is available on Amazon here.

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