Michael's Reviews > Iphigenia in Forest Hills: Anatomy of a Murder Trial

Iphigenia in Forest Hills by Janet Malcolm
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's review
Dec 19, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: non-fiction, true-crime
Read in December, 2011

Janet Malcolm's account of the murder trial of Mazoltuv Borukhova relies too much on an elementary explanation of the basic mechanics of a criminal court and is rather scant on the human drama surrounding the case. However, when Malcolm visits the victim's family, the characters suddenly come to life and show the true, unfulfilled potential of this story.

Notes:

Malcolm's story is riveting, but for such a brief book, she spends too much time on the general mechanics of the courtroom. Borukhova strikes us as an unfortunately unappealing person which supports the prejudice of her guilt in most eyes, but also supports the tragedy of the child's story. While the courtroom tragedy reminds me of the West Memphis Three, the tragedy of the family is wholly unique and strange. Malcolm's strength comes out in the aftermath of the trial when she allows herself to reveal the real human beings behind this unreal tragedy. In the end, Malcolm fails, like the law guardian, to get to know little Michelle, the true victim of this adult tragedy.
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