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Will to Murder

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  232 ratings  ·  51 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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Community Reviews

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Sheila DeChantal
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
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
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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
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.
Kate Thorson
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.
Feb 02, 2008 Nicole rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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
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.
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
This book was fantastic. I read several books on the topic of Glensheen murders. This book gives many details and information found only within its pages.
Unsatisfying. Wanted to know more info and get more closure but there was none. My proofer hat was on, and there were way too many grammatical errors.
After reading news reports and hearing various theories throughout the years, this seemed like pretty reliable information. What a sad story.
Thebestdogmom Stiner
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.
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.
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.
Dixie Diamond
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.
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.
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.
Jun 22, 2007 Kimberly rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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!
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.

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.
I really enjoyed this book. It took place in my home state. I do remember when it was the lead story in the news. However, the book takes you behind the scenes. How does a person con so many people for so many years? My advice never believe anyone who plays the victim card.
Another Duluth book!
Mar 07, 2015 Lisa rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lisa by: Kate
This was my first True Crime book and it's true what they say, the truth is stranger than fiction. This book was recommended to me by family that lives nearby. Next time I visit will go tour the murder site as I'm still intrigued by this story.
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.

Matt Brode
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.
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.
I read the entire book due to my knowledge of the people & places. It was a bit slow-going at times
but I did enjoy the story for what it told beyond what was in the news during those years.
After participating in the mock trial season where the case was based off this story, as well as meeting Judge DeSanto and Gary Waller, this book really comes to life for me! Very interesting!
This book was ok. There was a ton of details which shows that this has been thoroughly researched by the author, but there were so many that I got bogged down. Made the book a trifle long.
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