Customer Review

3.0 out of 5 stars Detailed and needs concentration!, 23 Feb 2014
This review is from: Darkness Descending - the Murder of Meredith Kercher (Paperback)
This book was written in 2009 and published by Pocket Books in 2010. It therefore does not deal with the appeal and the subsequent reconviction in late 2013. 3 authors are credited - Graham JOHNSON an investigative journalist, Paul RUSSELL a TV producer and Luciano GAROFANO, an Italian scientist and sometime law enforcement officer.

The book is 438 pages with an index. It is a useful addition to the wall of books about the violent murder of English student Meredith KERCHER. It is divided into 3 parts - Part 1 The Murder, Part 2 The Probe and Part 3 Justice. The problem facing a reviewer, as I see it, is to give a review that will be useful to others who are considering buying the book or otherwise reading it. This object will necessarily involve a great deal of subjectivity whilst trying to achieve objectivity. In my view a reviewer is unwise and failing in purpose if he or she descends into the arena. Therefore I will try and give an unbiased view of the writing and not give a view on who did it.

The book is long as I indicate above (438 pages) and carried a great deal of padding and back stories. I appreciate the principal author is an investigative journalist and the book was written for the mass market on a subject that was, and may still be, of global interest. However, I found the passages dealing with the social and familial histories of Amanda KNOX, Raffaele SOLLECITO and Rudy GUEDE to be overlong. What was the utility of knowing in detail what GUEDE did when he fled Italy? Some of the chapters had rather shrill and sensational titles - The Gilded Generation, Coming of Age, Freshers etc. I found that the back stories became part of the partisan media and personal hysterics of interest groups on each side of the Atlantic.

The writing style is standard but restrained journalism. It is full of undeniable facts, assertions of fact with comment or facts that are denied or in doubt (how can reviewers call it a work of fiction?) so I found the narrative helpful in understanding student life in Perugia at the time, the Italian legal system and the workings of the multi layered and complex Italian law enforcement system. On the whole I found the book balanced in that anyone with a shred of common sense and an enquiring mind would have seen Amanda KNOX and Raffaele SOLLECTIO as suspects from the get go.

My reservations of the book relate to the sections dealing with (1) the science (DNA), (2) the analysis of the computer and mobile phones of KNOX and SOLLECTIO, and (3) the Italian legal system. The descriptions of where samples were found, the analysis and the presentation of that evidence was hard to follow, not to say turgid. I had to read and reread to understand the value and weight of the DNA evidence. The detail of the evidence of SOLLECTIO's computer and his and KNOX's mobiles at relevant times was hard to follow, particularly as, in my view, it was of great weight and inference in the prosecution's case. Finally, the Italian legal system became fused into one long struggle from one judge to another, one appellate tribunal to another and one hearing to another. This was complicated by the fact that, in parallel to the murder charge, KNOX was convicted of libel by falsely naming Patrick LUMUMBA as the killer. I hasten to add that I do not think the legal system was ineffective or biased. Simply hard to follow in this book.

Overall, I give the book 3+ stars for the criticisms above. For me, the book raises the following unanswered questions (and the reasonable inferences that can be drawn in the absence of credible answers) ...........
How did KNOX know, early on, the position of the body and the nature of the injuries?
Why did KNOX and SOLLECTIO change their stories in the early stages of the investigation?
Why were their mobile phones off for a long period at a material time?
Why were those phones switched off and on at about the same time?
Why did KNOX name LUMUMBA as the killer?
How was KERCHER's DNA on a knife found in SOLLECTIO's kitchen?
Why did SOLLECTIO explain that MK's DNA was on the knife because she and he had been cooking in his flat and he accidently cut her? It was accepted by all that MK had never been to his flat.
Why was SOLLECTIO's PC turned off at a time he said he was at his flat checking emails?
Why was glass from the broken window found on top (ie not underneath) of items supposedly disturbed during the burglary?
How did the stone found in the flat, supposedly thrown to break the window as a precursor to burglary, fit through the gap in the shutters?

These and the rest of the evidence lead one to a view that the authorities were correct to lay the charges as they did. This book is worth a look if one is prepared to spend time comprehending the detail.
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