Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir” as Want to Read:
The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  10,929 ratings  ·  1,879 reviews
Before Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich begins a summer job at a law firm in Louisiana, working to help defend men accused of murder, she thinks her position is clear. The child of two lawyers, she is staunchly anti-death penalty. But the moment convicted murderer Ricky Langley’s face flashes on the screen as she reviews old tapes―the moment she hears him speak of his crimes―s ...more
Hardcover, 326 pages
Published May 16th 2017 by Flatiron Books
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.84  · 
Rating details
 ·  10,929 ratings  ·  1,879 reviews

Sort order
Mike Scalise
Jan 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If you are a fan of true crime, this book is excellent. If you are a fan of memoir, this book is excellent. If you are a fan of legal thrillers, this book is excellent. If you are a fan of beautiful language, this book is excellent. If you are a fan of page-turners, this book is excellent. If you are a fan of boundlessly empathetic storytelling and brilliant questions about the meaning of acceptance, this book is excellent. If you are a fan of a scene in which one character manages, maybe, to ha ...more
Diane S ☔
May 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
4+. Powerful and emotionally raw, I have never read anything quite like this before. Pedophiles and the harm they cause, the lasting effects on their victims, whether in family or without, the subject makes this a difficult book to read. As a law student the author comes across a case involving the death of a six year old and the offender, at the time on death row, a young man named Ricky. Although she doesn't believe in the death penalty she is shocked to find how much she wants this man to die ...more
Elyse Walters
Jun 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
"The Fact of a body: A Murder and a Memoir".....the title of this book becomes an 'acute awareness' of what this book is about - -the deeper we are pulled into this debut:
This book is about a real murder that happened in the year 1992. A six year old child, Jeremy Guillory, was molested and murdered by Ricky Langley.

This book is also a Memoir. We get a very personal -intimate -' private-as-private-is', up and close 'factual' and 'emotional' account from what author Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich
May 19, 2017 rated it it was ok
As I was nearing the conclusion of this book, I dreaded the prospect of reviewing it. As is obvious to anyone who has read the book, its subject matter and the author's personal experiences make it difficult to criticize. So before going further, I would like to make clear that my dislike of the book is not rooted in the author's personal memoir or her meditations on how her childhood traumas shaped her. I truly hope that this book was cathartic for her and enabled her to find peace. If it did t ...more
Aug 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Fact of the Body: A Murder and a Memoir is one of the books chosen for the nonfiction book club on goodreads this summer. I enjoy reading mysteries, true crime, and memoirs so I found the concept of this book to be intriguing. In a book that is a mixture of true narrative and personal recollections, Fact of the Body is an intricate web of emotions that come to a nexus when investigating a horrible crime from multiple angles.

Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich had overcome long odds and made it into Ha
Apr 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is hard to categorise this book – partly, it is the disturbing story of a murder, but it is much more than that. Part memoir, written almost as a novel, this is a painful, thoughtful account of a crime and how it affected those involved , but also how it changed the life of author Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich. The author is the daughter of a lawyer and, as long as she can remember, she recalls being fascinated by the law. At the age of twenty five, she went to New Orleans to fight the death p ...more
May 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Blending the best facets of history and historical fiction writing, this memoir of both the factual and imagined past bring alive the murder of a young boy, Jeremy Guillory, by a confessed pedophile, alongside the author's own sexual abuse by her grandfather. It's not easy reading but it's exceptionally well written. Despite having an opposition to capital punishment that was fundamental to her decision to study law, her introduction to this death penalty case while working as intern led Marzano ...more
Liz Barnsley
Mar 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Fact of a Body was less a non fiction narrative and more a work of art – I don’t think I have been sucked into a book in the way this one sucked me in for a good long while. Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich writes with such a beautiful, haunting quality that gets over so many layers of emotional depth whilst still keeping it factual and real, that you can one moment be feeling like you are watching events unfold in real time and the next sobbing like a baby at one small sentence that says everyt ...more
Sep 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: true-crime
This was not a 4 star for me but rather 3.75 **

So.. this took me a while to read.

What I really enjoyed reading about was the murder that was committed and the disputable reasons behind WHY it was committed. This book also hugely focuses on paedophilia and I believe this is an important read because it raises awareness. One wonders, who can you truly trust?

There were times when I had to put my kindle down and contemplate what I had just read, because I couldn't wrap my head around it. Other tim
Jul 09, 2017 rated it liked it

WARNING: This review contains information that's mentioned in many discussions of the book, but some readers might consider the revelations spoilers. So - If minor spoilers bother you - stop reading now.

"The Fact of a Body" melds the true crime story of child molester/murderer Ricky Langley with Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich's tale of being sexually abused as a child.

In 1992, Louisiana resident Ricky Langley killed his six-year-old neighbor, Jeremy Guillory, and - after being convicted by a jury
"[B]ut over time is starts to feel appropriate, somehow, that I can't find the house. The feeling is like chasing a memory that slips from your mind just as soon as you start to grasp it. Sure, it's dangerous to read metaphor into life; sure, it smacks of a desire to read meaning into cold fact, but doesn't all of this?"

This book made me feel so terribly uncomfortable right from the start. And by uncomfortable I don't just mean in terms of the subject content, which, yes, is disturbing and har
May 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the best books I've ever read that cores a murder case which resulted in a death penalty conviction. It's one of the very few which although in the end tone seems to support a strong movement toward making death penalty executions a thing of the past; STILL- it fully reveals the other side of needing and SO wanting that person to be "not alive" for the torture and horror that they initiated, and which STILL echoes throughout numberless lives' "after effects". And especially for th ...more
Dec 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoirs, non-fiction
The Fact of a Body: begins way before Alexandria starts working at a law firm. Her parents were both lawyers and she has always wanted to be one. She begins a summer job in Louisiana to help defend men accused of murder. She is staunchly against the anti-death penalty and thinks her position is clear. But as she is doing research, the moment she sees Ricky Langley's face on the screen, she is overcome with the feeling of wanting him to die.

This book is powerful and emotionally raw. I have never
Book Riot Community
I mention this on the podcast several months ago, but I just want to reiterate how amazing this book is. Marzano-Lesnevich went to Louisiana to help work with prisoners on death row, and instead found herself questioning her opposition to the death penalty when she came across a particularly heinous crime. Her investigation into the case led to reopened memories of her own childhood trauma and forced her to face some painful truths. (This book is fascinating and beautifully written, but please b ...more
Julie Christine
In a braided narrative that weaves true crime with memoir, Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich untangles the notion of proximate cause and the reality of personal perspective, and exposing the law as a mutable animal, born of bias and propelled by coincidence.

Marzano-Lesnevich was a young Harvard law student in 2003, interning for a Louisiana firm that specialized in defending death penalty clients, when she encountered Ricky Langley, convicted of the murder of six-year-old Jeremy Guillory a decade ear
Purple Country Girl (Sandy)
Sep 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: true-crime, paperback, arc
I received a copy of The Fact of a Body from the publisher, Flatiron Books.

Honestly, The Fact of a Body is not the type of book I usually read and I probably would never have considered it if I hadn’t been sent a copy by the publisher. I don’t like reading about pedophiles or about any type of abuse or violence against children. I’m not really into true crime and I rarely read memoirs, especially those dealing with abuse. The book is a combination of all this and more - part memoir, part true cr
Jessica Woodbury
Writing true crime nonfiction is a delicate task. I don't think most authors in the genre treat it delicately enough. I used to be a public defender, so I don't tend to romanticize crimes or criminals, to me they are regular people, not all that different from anyone else. Victims are just people, too. But in true crime sometimes it feels like it is not about real people and instead it's about characters and stories. I have trouble reading that kind of book because I cannot forget that these are ...more
Matthew Quann
Nov 13, 2017 rated it liked it
I finished The Fact of a Body audiobook late last week, but I've been putting off writing the review for a whole weekend. This book was difficult for many reasons, but largely because of the disturbing topics with which it deals. A trigger warning then: this is a nonfiction novel that deals with sexual assault, murder, and pedophilia in overwhelming detail. This is not to say that it is not well-written, or that it does not provide a challenging examination of abuse; however, it does not deliver ...more
Mar 07, 2018 added it
I'm leaving this unrated because while it was in many ways a beautiful book, it's also the most upsetting book I've ever read.

Obviously, content warnings abound. This book contains child molestation, sexual assault, murder, abuse, among other things.

Because Marzano-Lesnevich contrasts the child molester and murderer with events in her own life, there is an intimacy throughout the story. I've read true crime before, I've seen true crime documentaries, but because this book's structure it felt so
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
"No one story is simple. No one story is complete." –Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich

Wow. This book really put me through the ringer. I wish that I had realized that the whole of this book would be difficult to read. In most true crime books I've read thus far, the gritty part is found at the beginning, and the details in catching the culprit take up the rest of the reading. Not so in this case, which is a true crime work wrapped about a memoir. I am so happy about how this "project" turned out for
L A i N E Y
If you're one of those lucky people who still have solid faith in this thing called 'family institution', I caution you before picking this one up - the disillusionment may never be undone.
May 21, 2017 rated it liked it

I honestly don't know how to review this book. I wanted to like it so much, but found the writing somewhat disjointed and clunky. This is an incredibly powerful story, and obviously intensely personal for the author -- it's hard to be critical when you're discussing someone's traumatic experiences; it just seems cruel. Marzano-Lesnevich raises a lot of questions about family ties (both positive and negative) and what we as a society expect from our justice system, reform or revenge. There are no
Jun 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
I cannot imagine writing a non-fiction/memoir especially when the author has to step out of her comfort zone in order to do so. Not an easy read but I appreciate the amount of research and time that went into this book. The subject covered was depressing and disheartening.
Not only was it a difficult read because of the murder involved but also Alexandria's memoir described a sad and difficult childhood. Both stories do support each other.
I felt the stories to be scattered which made presenting t
Mar 29, 2018 rated it it was ok
The murder and the memoir made an odd combination for me. I get why the murder triggered memories for the author, but it wasn't a coherent narrative. I also didn't like how she inserted so much speculation about other people's thoughts and motives. Looks like I'm in the minority of people who thought this book just OK
Judy Collins
The Best Books of 2017

Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich weaves an emotional, gripping— beautifully and intelligently written debut; a haunting work of art— THE FACT OF A BODY A Murder and a Memoir.

A cross-genre, an extraordinary mix of literary, memoir, true-crime, legal, mystery, suspense, and historical in one powerful story—traveling between a murder case and the author’s own personal childhood tragic abuse. A story that demands to be told.

When the two begin to mesh together, the author begi
Alice Lippart
Equal parts horrifying and fascinating. Really well done.
May 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
I feel that first I need to qualify my rating and my response by saying that for many years I worked in both the field of psychology and law, specifically with sex offenders and victims -- both sides of a devastating crime. Marzano-Lesnevich does a fine job of laying bare her own childhood abuse and her adult feelings recalling that past when she is called upon to assist in the defense of a pedophile who murdered his victim. This is an ambitious memoir/novel, looking at an actual crime that was ...more
Renee (
May 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
You can find all my reviews at

I've read several true crime books in the last couple years and they all seem to have one thing in common for me...they've brought me to tears and infiltrated my thoughts in such a way that I couldn't stop thinking about the people in the stories. This true crime/memoir has been no different. I like to read while on the elliptical and there was a point in my reading where I just had to take a break from this story and switch to a different one. T
The Pfaeffle Journal (Diane)
Jun 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
The Fact of a Body is billed as a murder and a memoir, at first glance I thought it was about someone who had personally experienced at murder within the family. But the book took a deceive turn. Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich was a freshly minted lawyer when her law firm her assigned her to a death penalty case of a convicted pedophile and child murderer, Ricky Langley. Marzano-Lesnevich whom until the time was a stanch anti-death penalty supporter, immediately after watching a video tape of the ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • Alligator Candy: A Memoir
  • After the Eclipse: A Mother's Murder, a Daughter's Search
  • The Red Parts
  • Run, Brother, Run: A Memoir of a Murder in My Family
  • Love and Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere: A Memoir
  • Deliver Us: Three Decades of Murder and Redemption in the Infamous I-45/Texas Killing Fields
  • Murder in Little Egypt
  • The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist: A True Story of Injustice in the American South
  • A Death In California
  • The Hunting Accident
  • Ugly Prey: An Innocent Woman and the Death Sentence That Scandalized Jazz Age Chicago
  • Killer on the Road: Violence and the American Interstate
  • The Other Side: A Memoir
  • Abandon Me: Memoirs
  • Riverine: A Memoir from Anywhere But Here
  • Consequence: A Memoir
  • A False Report: A True Story of Rape in America
  • Kiss of the She-Devil
Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich is the author of THE FACT OF A BODY: A Murder and a Memoir, named an Indie Next Pick and one of the most anticipated books of 2017 by Buzzfeed, BookRiot, and the Huffington Post as well as a must-read for May by Goodreads,, Entertainment Weekly, and Real Simple. Currently out in the US and UK, it is forthcoming in the Netherlands, Turkey, Korea, and Taiwan ...more
“In the books I find the thrum of everything unsayable. The characters weep the way I want to, love the way I want to, cry, die, beat their breasts, and bray with life.” 10 likes
“When a lifeline comes, you don’t evaluate whether it’s the right one. You just grab for it, and hold on.” 9 likes
More quotes…