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A Death in Belmont

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3.48 of 5 stars 3.48  ·  rating details  ·  3,019 ratings  ·  433 reviews
In the spring of 1963, the quiet suburb of Belmont, Massachusetts, is rocked by a shocking sex murder that exactly fits the pattern of the Boston Strangler. Sensing a break in the case that has paralyzed the city of Boston, the police track down a black man, Roy Smith, who cleaned the victim's house that day and left a receipt with his name on the kitchen counter. Smith is ...more
ebook, 288 pages
Published April 17th 2006 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published January 1st 2006)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Mara
Sebastian Junger is a great non-fiction writer in any circumstance, but he's especially well-suited to cover the Boston Strangler story. Why? Well, because the man who was in all likelihood the culprit of said stranglings was also working on an addition to his family's house in 1962 in Belmont, Massachusetts. At the very least, the fact that his mother, Ellen, was home alone with this man on multiple occasions is a creepy anecdote.

Of course, Junger's family connection to the case serves only a
...more
Michael
Not completely sure I understand the low ratings for this book. I will assume they are from regular readers of the True Crime genre.

I think the main difference this book has from other True Crime novels--and it is certainly a perk--is that the author is not writing this book third person. He is not simply reporting a compilation of events and articles. The book is completely autobiographical but it's so thorough on the research you are often surprise when the first person "I" comes up every now
...more
Cathy DuPont
Many years ago I was on an Ann Rule binge reading her vast library of true crime novels. One that was of interest, in part because it was set in Florida, was The Stranger Beside Me, an account of serial killer Ted Bundy.

Before his name was in every household as a prolific murderer, Rule had worked next to Bundy as a volunteer at a suicide prevention center in Seattle, Washington, where she lived and worked. (Yes, really, Bundy was a volunteer for a suicide prevention crisis line.)

Sebastian Jung
...more
Kurt Schuett
A Death in Belmont

Junger, Sebastian (2009-05-30). A Death in Belmont. W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.

Reviewed by Kurt C. Schuett and posted on Great Britain's #1 Horror Site, Ginger Nuts of Horror on 3-18-2015

Sebastian Junger performs a rear-naked chokehold, also known as a “blood choke,” on his readers by restricting the vital fluid to their brains in A Death in Belmont. But instead of pinching his readers’ carotid arteries, he squeezes their emotional, moral, and psychological vein
...more
Walter
This book, essentially the examination of the Boston Strangler case of the early 1960s (but with a personal twist), is very well-written, a page turner, in fact. Yet, upon finishing it, one can't help but be a tad disappointed, as the concluding chapters lack the decisive, incisive and compelling quality of what precedes them. So, the book starts strong and stays that way until the very end, ultimately ending with the reader feeling a little bit disappointed that Junger becomes more (/too) equiv ...more
Will Byrnes
When Sebastian Junger was a kid, a neighbor was murdered in a way consistent with the Boston Strangler, who was then stalking the city. A black man was convicted of the crime on rather inconclusive evidence. At the time, the construction crew working on a renovation project in the Junger household included an extra hand by the name of Albert DeSalvo. This is Junger’s look-see into how likely it might have been for DeSalvo, the confessed Boston Strangler, to have been guilty of the crime. It is a ...more
Darlene
Every now and then, I like to binge on true crime stories. This book, A Death in Belmont, written by Sebastian Junger is one of the best true crime stories I have read in a long time. Sebastian Junger is a fantastic investigative journalist whose most recent book, War,provides and excellent look at the war in Afghanistan. Mr. Junger followed a single platoon through their 15 month tour of duty. What sets A Death in Belmont apart from other true crime stories is that Sebastian Junger provides a p ...more
Kate
Though there is no doubt Sebastian Junger is masterful at the precise, clinical detail, the plot wandered around through historical details which were ultimately irrelevant to the narrative arch. As a study of detail and successful expository writing, this book balances both with skill. The book is almost entirely exposition, but the details draw a reader in so that it feels more like a camera panning across a scene, rather then someone standing in front of the class relating details. Two things ...more
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Nov 12, 2012 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: Ultimate Reading List - Crime
Junger wrote one of my favorite books, The Perfect Storm. (Made into a mediocre film, but that shouldn't be held against it.) I can't rate this book quite as high--that book had some absolutely awesome, spine-tingling moments I'll never forget, and this book doesn't match it. I also wouldn't agree with the blurb inside that called it reminiscent of Capote's In Cold Blood, which I read only a few days ago. It might similarly be about a gruesome murder, but their virtues are quite opposite. Capote ...more
Cindy
I was shocked when I heard that Sebastian Junger (journalist for National Geographic, and author of “The Perfect Storm”) had written a book about the Boston Strangler I could not help wondering why he would pick such a topic to write about. It ends up that he has a very good reason to write about him…it is because he knew him. Well at least he knew Albert DeSalvo who was convicted of being the Boston Strangler. Junger gives the history behind Albert DeSalvo and his victims. He also goes into gre ...more
Katherine
Jul 22, 2008 Katherine rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nonfiction Readers and Thriller/Murder/Mystery Readers
I had a hard time in the beginning immersing myself in the story, perhaps owing to the fact that this is a rare example of nonfiction verging on fictionalized writing, which was something I had to get used to. Having favored fiction in the past few years, it took me a while to settle into the journalistic fiction style reminiscent of Joan Didion's writing and Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood."

But after reading a couple of chapters, I found myself really enjoying the story and how author Sebastian
...more
Krista
Sebastian Junger grew up with a family legend. When he was a small boy, a neighbor was strangled in her living room in Belmont, Massachusetts. A man was convicted of the crime. But the day of the murder, another man was working in the Junger house, a man who would later confess to being the Boston Strangler. Could that man have committed the murder of the neighbor? Could an innocent man be in prison? The justice system never reached a satisfactory resolution of that doubt.

Over forty years later,
...more
Suzanne
This is a fascinating piece of true crime writing centered around the 1960's Boston Strangler case. It has a personal twist, as Junger's young mother had briefly hired a handyman who later confessed to many of the killings. Although it was a more transient relationship than Ann Rule had with Ted Bundy, there were moments where the author (and of course, the reader) are left thinking, "Oh god, what if..."

Those encounters, of course, became part of the Junger family lore, which prompted the autho
...more
Alisa
This book felt forced, like Junger had been obsessed for so long, changed his mind so often, and was still so deeply conflicted, that writing the book was his only way to purge the topic from his immediate consciousness so he could move forward. I did appreciate his explanations of the legal processes, and the ways that even lawyers trip over explaining very serious ideas that impact our sense of justice and its impacts on our forms of democracy.
Emily C.
Sebastian Junger goes on a a quest for the truth based on his mother's brief, terrifying encounter with the Boston Strangler during Junger's childhood. A spate of gruesome strangling murders causes great alarm in the greater Boston community. Yet when the title murder occurs, law enforcement officials are so desperate to solve a case that they arrest and charge a black man on circumstantial evidence. Junger follows the path of that man, and the man later arrested for all of the other Boston stra ...more
Janellyn51
I thought this was really good. It mainly apealed to me because I remember the Boston Strangler time so well. I've spent the night in an apartment where one of the girls was found, I knew someone who discovered one of the bodies....and when Albert DeSalvo broke out of Bridgewater Correctional Institution for the Criminally insane...I lived one town over. I remember my mother saying If anyone comes to the door, you go upstairs and throw the kids out the window and I'll call the police. I had no i ...more
Coralie
This was an amazing true crime story. Sebastian Junger was a baby when the Boston Strangler terrorized Boston. There was a murder right in his neighborhood. A black man was arrested, prosecuted and convicted for this murder, yet women were still murdered after this man was behind bars. Eventually, another man was arrested for the crimes committed by the Boston Strangler. This man claimed to be the Boston Strangler. Horrifyingly enough, the second man arrested for the crimes had done some remodel ...more
Aquil T.
A Death in Belmont by Sebastian Junger is a suspenseful drama about a man name Roy Smith going through a case where he is accused of frst degree murder. When rumors starts to float around from person after person, after person, that changes a lot of minds of the court. Roy Smith is going through the process of trial and then he gets sick. While he is sick a bunch of illegal things are taking place outside of Roy Smith. In the end Roy Smith dies from lung cancer and tuberculosis.

There are several
...more
Dolores
By an amazing coincidence, this talented writer's family played a very minor role in the story of the Boston Strangler. For those too young to remember, in the 1960s Boston was terrorized by a killer who was able to talk his way into a woman's home, then rape and strangle her. He eluded police for several years, and in the end, 13 women were killed. Included was one victim who lived a few blocks from Junger's family home in Belmont, a suburb of Boston.

Junger's book is primarily about that parti
...more
Michael  Malone
Junger is a heckuva reporter, but is clearly averse to any authorly flourishes. Too bad--it would've jazzed up his narrative a bit. Very interesting true crime story related to the Boston Strangler, and Junger has a compelling personal connection to it.
His straightforward/no frills approach is also evident in the title. Couldn't the guy who introduced the phrase "perfect storm" into the world's lexicon have come up with anything better than A Death In Belmont?
Barbara
I loved this audiobook.

I loved that the author was personally connected to the story from childhood. I loved that he took so much time researching it. I loved the way he structured the book. I loved the narrator who brought it to life. I loved the ending because, after all, Sebastian Junger is a journalist and this was, in fact, non-fiction.

If you listen, don't forget to listen to the q & a at the end. It's not brilliant but it's worth taking the time.

I don't understand why our library onl
...more
Pat
All you fans of true crime will dig this mockumentary set in the Bean at the time of the Boston Strangler. Junger's writing is fierce. In another life he chased rebels and hung out with the likes of Foday Sankoh in the jungles of Sierra Leone. And he doesn't overuse commas which is sweet!

Regards friends

prp
Astraia
Really well written novel about the Boston Strangler. Junger elevates the so-often told tale by adding an insight into the society of Boston during the hunt for the killer. I also really enjoyed it because I used to live on the Arlington/Belmont line (so I may have bumped up the star by a half.)
Rebecca
Apr 05, 2008 Rebecca rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Dennis Hultstrom
Really good non-fiction crime drama. Different than his others, but just as compelling - maybe a little more readable than "Perfect Storm" (I would get distracted by the several-pages long tangents on the physics of waves).
Brian Bova
Great book. Junger not only brings out all the facts but also shows that the facts can be assumed the wrong way. Theres still a mystery as to who was the Boston Strangler, and Junger shows that in this book. A++++
Catherine Martin
In this story, the primary crime is the murder of a woman in Belmont, a suburb of Boston, right around the time that the Boston Strangler was terrorizing the city. In fact, this murder might have been categorized as one of his except that it was “solved” so quickly despite the fact that the man never confessed and was convicted on circumstantial evidence. The author grew up a few blocks from this crime scene and one of the day laborers who worked on his house confessed to being the Boston Strang ...more
Emily
Great book! In the style of In Cold Blood and Devil in the White City and about The Boston Strangler of the 1960s. Fascinating, well-researched, and well-written.
Diane
This is a documentary on the Boston Strangler and Roy Smith who was a black man charged with killing a Boston surburb housewife. The murder had all the ear marks for the Boston Strangler but at the time it was the early 60's and blacks were being hauled to jail for crimes they did not commit.

The reader can tell from the point of the author that Roy Smith was innocent and, in fact, from what he reveals it sounds like he was.

I thought this was a good history of both Roy Smith and the Boston Strang
...more
Emily
Probably a 3.5 but I'll be generous. Very interesting and eye-opening. A good overall read.
David Quinn
Highly readable and interesting with digestible facts and tidbits sprinkled throughout. The story and the details never overwhelm or get bogged down. And there’s plenty of doubt to keep you wondering about the guilt or innocence of Roy Smith and Albert DeSalvo to the end of the book. (*Semi-spoiler alert - DNA testing in July 2013 brings more certainty to the matter.)

The subject matter is very troubling, however. The author doesn’t provide too many explicit details but does convey enough informa
...more
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Sebastian Junger is an American author and journalist. He graduated from Concord Academy in 1980 and received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wesleyan University in cultural anthropology in 1984. He received a National Magazine Award in 2000 for "The Forensics of War," published in Vanity Fair in 1999. In 1997, with the publication of his work, The Perfect Storm, he was touted as the new Hemingway, ...more
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“The story about Bessie Goldberg that I heard from my parents was that a nice old lady had been killed down the street and an innocent black man went to prison for the crime. Meanwhile--unknown to anyone--a violent psychopath named Al was working alone at our house all day and probably committed the murder. In our family this story eventually acquired the tidy symbolism of a folk tale. Roy Smith was a stand-in for everything that was decent but utterly defenseless. Albert DeSalvo, of course, was a stand-in for pure random evil.” 2 likes
“They had not yet started out across a continent of grief that a lifetime of walking could not cover.” 0 likes
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