Robert J. Sullivan's Reviews > The Murder Room: The Heirs of Sherlock Holmes Gather to Solve the World's Most Perplexing Cold Cases

The Murder Room by Michael Capuzzo
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M 50x66
's review
Jun 19, 2011

it was ok
Read in June, 2011

I have to put in a warning here – I was unable to finish this book. Heck, I was unable to take it seriously enough to barely start it.

The Vidocq Society is a real group of law enforcement professionals who get together informally to see if they can provide insight into cold crime cases. I'd heard of the society and occasionally read true crime books, so I decided to give it a try. The first chapter begins ….

“The great hall was filled with the lingering aroma of pork and mallard duck sausage as black-vested waiters appeared, shouldering cups of vanilla bean blancmange …. the image of the corpse …. materialized in the center of the room.”

Okay, Mr. Capuzzo, how do you know about the lingering aromas? Is the ventilation in the room that poor? As for the waiters 'shouldering cups of .. blancmange,' how large were these cups? Is it possible they were shouldering trays containing the cups? Is the image in the middle of the room a Star Wars 3D image, or did they project it on a screen? If it was in the middle of the room, how did the people on the other side see it?

We go from there to 'eccentric, moody geniuses,' that one of the 'experts' is a psychic and another 'used the polygraph to … peer into the hearts of men … to redeem them.'

That's who I want working on a murder case, psychics and polygraph experts, a technology that's so good it isn't allowed to be used in most legal cases. I wonder why they included these people; couldn't they find a reader of chicken entrails? Wouldn't the accused submit to trial by ordeal?

I soldiered on for a few more pages, then dropped into the book at random, finally admitting defeat and giving up.

In a true crime story, I expect the author to provide evidence. Capuzzo gives the reader dialogue I doubt happened (how many people these day use the word 'whilst?'), ascribes emotions to people, and frames it in language more suited to Victorian romance than non-fiction (baleful glares and flashing eyes). My b*llsh*t detector was pegging the needle. With writing like this, I find Capuzzo's evidence unconvincing.

The Vidocq Society may do good work, but I was unwilling to scrape away Capuzzo's frosting to look underneath. 1 and a half stars.
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message 1: by Gizmology (new)

Gizmology SKEWER. You picked perfect examples of the most maddening thing about Capuzzo's "writing" -- his conviction that he's some kind of *artiste*, entitled to use the loftiest metaphors and purplest stylistic flourishes to emphasize an absolute lack of solid writing and real reporting, because in truth, the guy has absolutely no aptitude, and no awareness at all that his writing is truly awful. Apparently he's won prizes for his reporting, but he must have qqhad some genius editors back then. Maybe they were so disgusted that he got the credit for what they probably wrote *for* him that this time they just patted him on the back and said, "Sure, Mikey, it's *perfect!* and sent it straight to print. Ah, hubris. The sad thing is, this story DESERVES a great write-up, but Capuzzo took it and wrecked it for everyone. Hubris AND selfishness!

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