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Will to Murder

3.74  ·  Rating Details ·  339 Ratings  ·  68 Reviews
Finally, the true story of the Glensheen killings--the murder of elderly Duluth heiress Elisabeth Congdon and her nurse--as told through the eyes of former Duluth detective Gary Waller and St. Louis County prosecutor John DeSanto. This team led the case's investigation and successful prosecution of Roger Caldwell, Congdon's son-in-law, in the most notorious double murder i ...more
Paperback, Second Edition
Published August 1st 2003 by X-Communication (first published 2003)
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Sheila DeChantal
Jan 25, 2013 Sheila DeChantal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
On June 27th, 1977, an intruder broke into the Glensheen Mansion located on Lake Superior in Duluth Minnesota. The only occupants in the large home at the time were the lone heir to the million+ dollar estate, Elisabeth Congdon (83) and her nurse Velma Pietila. The intruder would leave with a basket of jewelry and a few other small items, but not before they murdered the nurse beating her to death with a candlestick, and smothering Elisabeth with a satin pillow.

The investigation quickly led in t
Mar 31, 2013 Krissy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I went to an event at the library that DeSanto was going to be giving on the book in 2004. It was my new friend Tami's idea. I liked DeSanto and was interested in the material at hand. I purchased the book that evening with the intent to read it. Just under 9 years later I've finally moved it off of my to read list.

Will to Murder has a good background on the Congdon/Pietila murders. It was a good piece for the local history books I've been interested in lately. That said, towards the end (and t
Mar 16, 2016 Diana rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The first half of the book about the Glensheen murders and trial were really interesting. But the last half goes waaaaay too in depth about Marjorie's other trials. And the author shows up in the third person. It's only cute when Richard Brautigan does it (The Abortion: An Historical Romance). I would have liked the info in the second half to be synthesized by the author a little more thoroughly before getting to my eyes. Nonetheless, Marge sure is an interesting lady.
Feb 23, 2017 Cindy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting book about the Congdon murders. Pat and I visited Glensheen last summer. It's amazing! The book follows the trial of Marjorie Congdon and her second husband. She is a scary person still living in Tucson!
It took me forever to read this book, although I am not sure why. I had visited Glensheen in August and was interested in learning more about the family and the associated murders. After finishing the book, I admit that I am still up in the air as to who all was involved. A very prominent and respected family was torn apart by a senseless murder of two older women. Marjorie Congdon Leroy Caldwell Hagen was definitely a troubled person who should have been receiving psychiatric care. Instead she ...more
Aug 03, 2011 Terry rated it really liked it
I rather enjoyed this book, as I remember the publicity around the Congdon murders as a kid, but didn't quite get all of the details. When touring the place for the first time in my 20's, (I'd gone because the house was featured in the film "You'll Like My Mother,") I innocently said "doesn't this seem like a great place for a murder?" as we were on the staircase landing. I had no recollection that Ms. Congdon's nurse had been killed there -- the stares I got! I quickly purchased "The Secrets of ...more
Feb 02, 2008 Nicole rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those with a connetion to Duluth, MN
This should have been a really interesting story. Its about a double murder of the richest women in Duluth (maybe Minnesota) who was killed by her adopted daughter and her husband in hopes of a multi million dollar inheritance. Instead it was highly technical and filled with an inordinate amount of minutia. This will only be interesting to you if you have an existing interest in some aspect of the murders, Glensheen Mansion where the murders took place; or the cites where the most important even ...more
Patricia Ewer
Dec 02, 2015 Patricia Ewer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having seen the St. Paul Minnesota's History Theatre musical production of Glensheen last summer, a friend recommended this book. It is very detailed being written by Duluth News-Tribune crime reporter Gail Feichtinger, Duluth Police Detective Gary Waller and the former Assistant St. Louis County attorney John DeSanto, all who worked on the case. This made the book a real life page turner. Fascinating story. Also frightening to know the lead character Marjorie Congdon LeRoy Caldwell Hagen lived ...more
Feb 26, 2010 Allison rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this book was an interesting read. It took me a long time to get through, because it is so thorough and detailed, but I was glad to have read it. The local connection to Duluth/Superior/Twin Cities made it all the more interesting. I am excited to go to visit the Glensheen Mansion in Duluth this summer! This book focused on multiple crimes/criminals/trials (all relating to the Glensheen killings), so the book was interesting throughout. The primary murder suspect was so terribly unlika ...more
Jul 23, 2015 Jo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A bit disjointed in parts, but I read as time allowed, so wasn't too put off by the lack of flow. No endless trial transcripts, though I could have done with a bit less on the dressing habits of the attorneys involved.
There seems to be a large amount missing re Marjorie, but I'm assuming that is due to the fact that she yet lives and breaths and probably would not bat an eye to tie respective authors up in civil court over the least amount of perceived libel. That may change when she finally le
Jay Gabler
Apr 05, 2013 Jay Gabler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this book up as research for an article I'm writing, and I braced myself: 416 pages, I thought, would surely turn out to be way too much information about this case. Instead, the book turned out to be very readable—in passages, even a page-turner that was hard to put down. Very easy to recommend for anyone who's at all curious about the Glensheen murders and the long, strange story of Marjorie Congdon.
Jan 08, 2014 Sarah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The writing is a bit choppy, but is packed with information of this crime, the background and motivation and the events following the trial. This book is long and the chapters jump back and forth, but I know that's a tactic to keep the reader interested.

I am truly convinced that Marge is a serial killer and needs to be locked away for the rest of her life. I just read a web article that in 2008 she was once again arrested for passing forged checks from a deceased man and received probation.
Liz Marciniak
Apr 06, 2016 Liz Marciniak rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It certainly is dry at times, but the content within the book stays thorough and true to its title. If you have the opportunity, read this book and go tour the mansion. The tours do not go into detail of the murders that occurred there. However, this book provides digestible detail and awesome photos that you likely could give the tour yourself and tell the story. Paired together they are a unique experience.
Mary Newcomb
Heiress Elizabeth Congdon and her nurse, Velma Pietila, were murdered in Duluth MN on June 27, 1977. This book tells about the crime, subsequent investigation, trials and aftermath. I don't often read non-fiction, this was most intriguing. Congdon's daughter and the daughter's second husband were brought to trial. He was convicted, she was acquitted. After his release, he eventually committed suicide. She went on to be convicted of arson and forgery in Arizona.
Jul 12, 2014 Laurel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 25, 2011 Rhonda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This story has fascinated me for years, and reading in detail about the whole thing didn't disappoint. Marjorie Congdon is a character that were she fiction would be unbelievable, alas she is real and no fiction was needed to tell her story, as they say truth is stanger than fiction. Book goes into great detail and I learned all I could and still I could read more.
Feb 06, 2016 Erin rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I actually didn't finish this book. It was not a bad book, but it was over written: too much background information, stories that weren't even remotely related to the story and definitely not relevant. The reason for reading the book was covered in the first chapter and then all I read was about of stuff about how crazy Marjorie is... Yep, got it the first time you told me. Thanks anyway.
Sep 19, 2012 Vicki rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography-memior
So I was given this book by an aunt who took my mom and I to the Glensheen mansion. After seeing the house, I found this book to be really interesting. The writing style is inconsistent and the facts are often rather repetitive, but the story they tell is kind of fascinating. So, could have been better written, and shorter, but worth reading, particularly if you have been to Glensheen.
Mar 22, 2011 Laurie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
This could maybe be an interesting story if it were more well-written. There was a huge amount of seemingly irrelevant detail in this book and I didn't feel like it opened up any further understanding of the people involved, or the mindset of either law enforcement or people who commit murders.

Dixie Diamond
Apr 18, 2008 Dixie Diamond rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very thorough and interesting, but tedious because the woman in question is so completely unlikable.

It's very thoroughly researched, which makes for slow-ish reading, but I don't mind that in nonfiction. Would make for a tedious fictional murder mystery, but since nonfiction is about information at least as much as entertainment, I appreciated the effort that went into it.
Aug 30, 2012 Jennifer rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating look at the Glensheen murder case and subsequent legal troubles of the main suspect/culprit Marjorie Congdon. You can tell this is the author's first book, and the book is quite lengthy due to the inclusion of almost every detail of each of Marjorie's trials. Great for learning about the cases and what really happened, but I wouldn't call this a "read for pleasure" type of book.
Jun 22, 2007 Kimberly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who have been to Duluth, MN or are interested in America's castles or murder mystery
This book is about the true crime of a murder that happened at Glensheen, one of "America's castles" and a place I visited during a trip to Duluth, MN. It was also more insight into something they don't talk about during the home tour. I bet if it had happened at San Simian, they'd have been all over it!
May 29, 2011 Katy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a great narration of the trials surrounding the Glensheen murders. It definitely taught me a lot about the cases, and it's interesting to read about a big local story. The book is definitely not one you can read all at once, it's best to put it down and come back to it. But overall, very well written and shows sides to the case that were previously untold.
Kate Thorson
Nov 22, 2014 Kate Thorson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, non-fiction
This was one of the books I received one Christmas from my parents that I never expected to really enjoy. I was wrong, there are so many twists and turns to this story that it seems almost fictionally at times, but it is a good book on the murders. There is a lot of information given from personal accounts to letters to what people saw, said and did.
Carol Nelson
Wow...Marjorie Congdon/Caldwell/Hagen is one crazy chick. This book took a long time to get through, but was completely interesting all the way through if you like mysteries. Really interesting to see how cases were researched and tried 30 years ago to today!
Jun 24, 2007 Matt rated it really liked it
A riveting tell-tale account of the famouns Glensheen murders in Duluth Minnesota, and the inner workings of the mind of heiress Majorie Congdon.

A great read with vivid descriptions of Duluth, MN.
Jan 22, 2015 Thebestdogmom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
We drove past this mansion on our way to the Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, MN. We were intrigued and googled it. Found out about the murders and saw this book at a local bookstore. The book was very interesting. Both my husband and I loved it. Now I want to go back for a tour of the mansion.
Aug 23, 2013 Dan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Engrossing and objective account that falls squarely in the truth-stranger-than-fiction category. All the more interesting for having visited Glensheen without being aware of the murders until after completing the tour of the house and grounds.

Apr 05, 2009 Laurie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating read. An account of killings that took place at the historic Congdon estate in Duluth Minnesota and the trial that followed. The investigation and trial is fascinating enough but the life of heiress Marjorie Congdon will keep you spell bond through out. Couldn't put it down.
Jul 23, 2016 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really interesting and incredibly detailed story of Marjorie Congdon and her husbands. This book doesn't just cover the murder, but she and her families lives as well as her life post murder. It also has an update on what has happened since the book was published. Very interesting read.
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