Taking the advice of that horrible fellow on Gruen Planet last night I am putting this up now for fear that in two weeks time no one will be able to remember what the hell it was all about.
John Follain, who covers Italy for the Sunday Times, tells the definitive inside story of this extraordinary case.
Shortly after 12.30pm on 2 November 2007, Italian police were called to the Perugia home of 21-year-old British student Meredith Kercher. They found her body on the floor under a beige quilt. Her throat had been cut.
Four days later, the prosecutor jailed Meredith’s flatmate American student Amanda Knox, and Raffaele Sollecito, her Italian boyfriend. He also jailed Rudy Guede, an Ivory Coast drifter. Four years later Knox and Sollecito were acquitted amid chaotic scenes in front of the world’s media.
Uniquely based on four years of reporting and access to the complete case files, Death In Perugia takes readers on a riveting journey behind the scenes of the investigation, as John Follain shares the drama of the trials and appeal hearings he lived through.
Including exclusive interviews with Meredith’s friends and other key sources, Death in Perugia reveals how the Italian dream turned into a nightmare.
About the Author
John Follain was born in 1966. He studied at Oxford before joining Reuters, for which he worked as a correspondent in Rome and Paris. He has covered Italy for The Sunday Times since 1998. His previous books include THE LAST GODFATHERS and ZOYA’S STORY on an Afghan resistance fighter, which was translated into fourteen languages. He was voted runner-up for the 2006 Paul Foot Award for Campaigning Journalism, and nominated for the 2008 Magazine Journalism Awards for his interview with the Knox family.
Published in August:
The Fatal Gift of Beauty
by Nina Burleigh
The sexually violent murder of twenty-one-year-old British student Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy, on the night of November 1, 2007, became an international sensation when one of Kercher’s housemates, twenty-year-old Seattle native Amanda Knox, as well as her Italian boyfriend and a troubled local man Knox said she “vaguely” knew, was arrested and charged with the murder. The Fatal Gift of Beauty is award-winning author and journalist Nina Burleigh’s mesmerizing literary investigation of the murder, the controversial prosecution, the conviction and twenty-six-year sentence of Knox, the machinations of Italian justice, and the underground depravity and clash of cultures in one of central -Italy’s most beloved cities.
When Perugia authorities concluded that the murder was part of a dark, twisted rite—a “sex game”—led by the American with an uncanny resemblance to Perugia’s Madonna, they unleashed a media frenzy from Rome to London to New York and Seattle. The story drew an international cult obsessed with “Foxy Knoxy,” a pretty honor student on a junior year abroad, who either woke up one morning into a nightmare of superstition and misogyny—the dark side of Italy—or participated in something unspeakable.
The investigation begins in the old stone cottage overlooking bucolic olive groves where Kercher’s body was found in her locked bedroom. It winds through the shadowy, arched alleys of Perugia, a city of art that is also a magnet for tens of thousands of students who frequent its bars, clubs, and drug bazaar on the steps of the Duomo. It climaxes in an up-close account of Italy’s dysfunctional legal system, as the trial slowly unfolds at the town’s Tribunale, and the prosecution’s thunderous final appeal to God before the quivering girl defendant resembles a scene from the Inquisition.
To reveal what actually happened on that terrible night after Halloween, Nina Burleigh lived in Perugia, attended the trial, and corresponded with the incarcerated defendants. She also delved deeply into the history, secrets, and customs of Perugia, renowned equally for its Etruscan tunnels, early Christian art, medieval sorcerers, and pagan roots.
The Fatal Gift of Beauty is a thoughtful, compelling examination of an enduring mystery, an ancient, storied place, and a disquieting facet of Italian culture: an obsession with female eroticism. It is also an acute window into the minds and personalities of the accused killers and of the conservative Italian magistrate striving to make sense of an inexplicable act of evil. But at its core is an indelible portrait of Amanda Knox, the strangely childlike, enigmatic beauty, whose photogenic face became the focal point of international speculation about the shadow side of youth and freedom.
“Finally, the twisted tale of Amanda Knox, the all-American college girl convicted of murder in Italy, gets the telling this extraordinary story deserves. Nina Burleigh’s immersion in Italian cultural history provides a context that allows us–first the first time–to understand how this international miscarriage of justice could have occurred. Stirring, compelling, and in the end a tragic tale worthy of Italian opera.” –Joe McGinniss, author of Fatal Vision, The Miracle of Castel Di Sangro and The Rogue
“The global media, in its frenzied coverage of the sensational Amanda Knox murder trial, overlooked what Nina Burleigh has skillfully unearthed and analyzed–a compelling chain of evidence, subtle levels of significance. Her telling of the tale is clearly the only one that gets it right.”–John Berendt, author of The City of Falling Angels and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
About the Contributor
While still in his twenties, John Purcell opened a second-hand bookshop in Mosman, Sydney, in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Since then he has written, under a pseudonym, a series of very successful novels, interviewed hundreds of writers about their work, appeared at writers’ festivals, on TV (most bizarrely in comedian Luke McGregor’s documentary Luke Warm Sex) and has been featured in prominent newspapers and magazines. Now, as the Director of Books at booktopia.com.au, Australia’s largest online bookseller, he supports Australian writing in all its forms. He lives in Sydney with his wife, two children, three dogs, five cats, unnumbered gold fish and his overlarge book collection. His novel, The Girl on the Page, will be published by HarperCollins Australia in October, 2018.