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Darkness Descending - the Murder of Meredith Kercher
Darkness Descending - the Murder of Meredith Kercher
by Paul Russell
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.99

8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thorough examination of a tragic crime, 21 Oct 2011
This was the first book I read on the case and I found it to be a thorough and objective examination of the tragic and confusing events that occured in Perugia on All Soul's Day, 2007.

Before reading this book I had a basic understanding of the case from the original coverage as well as the coverage of Knox and Sollecito's successful appeal and, with the appeal's verdict and absence of any plausible motive for their involvement in a sexually motivated or occult murder, I believed that, in all likelihood, Guede did act alone on the night of 1 November 2007. This book completely changed my mind!

The book presents evidence both for and against Knox, Sollecito and Guede objectively and in some detail, including some damning evidence that contradicts their testimony and places all of them at least in the cottage around the time of death, if not in Kercher's actual room.

Suspicious circumstances surrounding the break in are also examined, with the result that the reader is left convinced that Knox and Sollecito are at least hiding something: quite possibly their involvement in the crime.

However, due to the objective examination and such a confusing set of events, the reader is left with serious doubts as to exactly what did happen that fateful night. This is no fault of the authors, unfortunately it is just not possible to always discover what has occured after the event - especially if people try to cover their tracks.

The book highlights the inconsistencies in some of the accused's testimonies, as well as going into detail to explain some of the factors that pro-Knox campaigners have twisted to suit their case, and is therefore a very valuable insight into the crime.

As with my review of Candace Dempsey's book on the case, I'll leave the last word to what is really important about this case and with the hope that the Kerchers can one day finally receive the smallest consolation for their tragic loss that night: truth and justice for Meredith.

Murder in Italy
Murder in Italy
by Candace Dempsey
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: 5.80

9 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Should have been titled "Witch Hunt in Italy"!, 21 Oct 2011
After the recent over-turning of the convictions of Knox and Sollecito at appeal, like many people, my interest in this tragic case was reignited and I began reading into it once again. As well as reading many of the forums, this is the second book that I have read in the past two weeks on the subject, the first being "Darkness Descending" by Paul Russel, Graham Johnson & Luciano Garofano.

Dempsey's account of the case stands in stark contrast to that of Russel, Johnson and Garogano, whereas the latter's account reads as an objective examination of the crime scene examinations, forensic evidence and witness testimony with independent analysis of some of the key issues in order to shed some light on what is clearly a case with many puzzling aspects, Dempsey's book comes across as nothing more than a blogger's defence of Knox, focusing on the treatment of Knox by the authorities and media and discrediting any testimony or evidence against her, without ever really trying to get to the bottom of what occurred on that horrifically sad night in Perugia. Indeed, a better title for the book may have been "Witchhunt in Italy" as this is the real subject of the book.

What's more, Dempsey's examination of the key aspects is often superficial and comes across as being spun to suit her pre-conceived verdict that Knox is completely innocent and nothing more than the victim of the Italian legal system, a media witch-hunt and a set up. Any evidence that would undermine this position is dismissed out of hand, for example:

- several examples of mixed DNA of Kercher and Knox in the cottage and on a knife that Kercher would have had no reason to have come into contact with;

- if the knife wasn't the murder weapon, why did Sollecito lie about how Kercher's DNA had come to be on it?

- clear evidence of a staged break-in resulting in the obvious conclusion that the murder was an "inside job";

- Guede's trainer's bloody footprints being present showing him exiting the cottage, as well as bare bloody footprints being present on a bath mat indicating at least two people being present in Kercher's room before her body was discovered; and

-Sollecito's DNA on Kercher's bra clasp, albeit only collected after 47 days from a sealed crime scene.

What's more is that key evidence is completed ignored in Dempsey's account, just a few examples:

- mixed DNA of Knox and Kercher in the footprints around the cottage;

- supposed burglar did no more than throw a few of the clothes from one wardrobe in one room on the floor;

- supposed burglar scaled a white wall, from muddy ground without leaving a single mark on the wall, nor displacing or bending an old nail that was right in the path of any climber; and

- every police officer who saw the "burgled" bedroom immediately concluded it was staged, such was the obviousness of the scene.

It is clear that there is "no smoking gun" that incriminates Knox in this terrible murder and also that aspects of the prosecutions case do not hold water, but the undeniable facts are that, tragically, Kercher's life was taken by someone or some people, the circumstantial and forensic evidence suggests that Knox had some involvement and that Knox's (final) explanation of events has gaping holes and is not consistent with objective evidence (such as computer and phone records, forensic evidence, DNA and eyewitness testimony).

In her blinkered defence of Knox, Dempsey glosses over these issues and fails to shed any objective light on what actually did occur that night. It seems that it is enough for Dempsey to conclude that Knox didn't do it and leave it at that.

A further damning feature of the book is that a lot of it relies on second hand information, we don't hear about important aspects directly from the people who are testifying, nor even Dempsey herself, but a third party's account (often Frank Sfarzo - a blogger with no qualifications relevant to commenting on such a case) of what the person said, or how they acted. This gives the impression that Dempsey wasn't even present at many of the events that she is describing, further removing the reader from an objective examination of the key parts of the case.

In conclusion, I found this book to be useful in highlighting how Knox's side of the story could be interpreted and how she could try to explain away what happened that fateful night. However, it is not even close to a complete picture or a neutral assessment of the case as it excludes key evidence and includes inconsistencies that are not explored; it therefore should not be read as a standalone, objective examination of the case.

I'll close by saying how tragic this whole story is, even for a completely unconnected bystander. I hope that one day the Kerchers find the one small piece of consolation left to them by this deeply saddening crime: the truth about what happened to Meredith.
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