Simone's Reviews > The Double Life of Herman Rockefeller

The Double Life of Herman Rockefeller by Hilary Bonney
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's review
Apr 02, 12

liked it
bookshelves: aww2012-challenge, great-aussie-reads-challenge

I noticed this book in the library and thought it would be a deviation from fiction, but still fit in the AWW2012 challenge. I don't read a lot of true crime, but I do enjoy analysis of cases that I've heard about (if it's not too gruesome).

Awful subject matter aside this book is very readable. It is very well written in simple, concise language and although it flashes forward and back a little, the narrative is easy to follow.

I'll admit I was quite fascinated by the case itself. I remember hearing about it in the media and wondering at the time what made a seemingly upstanding, model citizen/husband/father get involved in something so murky and sordid. And on that point that is what I thought was missing from the book - why he did it. Because while it chronicles Herman Rockefeller's movements and actions, (that he was deeply involved in the "swinging" movement and had been for some time and managed to hide his shady behaviour due to his work commitments), it doesn't give you any real insight/background into what might have made him set on that path. In fairness, this is based on police reports etc so the writer obviously didn't have that information - but that element is what makes a true crime book truly captivating. It gives more of a background snapshot of the woman accused of murdering him and her motives, but the title suggests it is more about Herman than her.

The real message I got from this book was that one wrong move, one bad decision can unravel a whole carefully constructed web of lies and secrecy. Herman made a bad choice to visit his killers on the way home from the airport and essentially he messed with the wrong people (who by the sounds of it probably didn't really intend to kill him).

Overall a fascinating story that illustrates just what lies beneath the veneer of respectability and suburban life.
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