The Murder Room

The Murder Room: The Heirs of Sherlock Holmes Gather to Solve the World's Most Perplexing Cold Cases by Michael Capuzzo wasn't exactly what I thought it would be. I was expecting to see the details of a series of cases the group solves just by going over the clues. Maybe a mixture of really old things and newer ones. Maybe at the end they'd announce who Jack the Ripper was.

The book covers more of three men's lives: Frank Bender, a ladies man forensic artist; Bill Fleisher, a Jewish federal agent family man; and Richard Walter, an ascetic forensic psychologist. How they became crime fighters, their personal lives, became friends, how they form the core of the Vidocq Society, named after the first private detective. The Vidocq Society is a group of elite agents, detectives and specialists in crime. They get together and socialize but also turn their varied talents to cold cases brought before them. Frequently it seems the case may be solved by the end of the luncheon, even if the police don't have enough evidence to convict at that point.

I liked the really old cases they looked at. Trying to identify a serial killer Eliot Ness tried to capture or looking for the identity of the Boy in the Box from 40 years earlier tests these men far more than some of the recent cases. In the recent cases there is more satisfaction though because the killers are still alive, able to receive their punishment. The families are able to bury their missing loved ones found by Bender's sculpture skills.

I say this book is a 5 for me. I did tear through it in a day and found the characters very compelling. But the way the author constantly describes their feelings and thoughts leads me to think that he either A) knows these men better than they know themselves, B) is an even better profiler than Richard Walter, or C) took some liberties with those parts. So while the facts are amazing i'd say the actual writing could have been more realistic. This one will count for my RIP Challenge!

Currently: Watching Boise St/Va. Tech game


  1. This sounds interesting... I will have to see if I can find a copy!

  2. It just came out in the last couple months.

  3. It certainly sounds like an interesting book. I wonder if a better writer would have been able to take the concept and do something more with it, something closer to what your expectations were. Glad you enjoyed it all the same. I like those shows on various cable stations where forensic teams investigate old mysteries, like Lizzie Borden, etc. Always very fascinating with just the right amount of creepiness as you are reminded that sick, scary stuff happened back then as it does now.

  4. The Murder Room looks like an interesting read. I may have to add it to my R.I.P. list.

  5. Carl- I'm always shocked when someone doesn't know about those sorts of things. my degree is in anthropology and i went in big for the physical/forensics side of things. Check out the FACES Lab at LSU.
    Whitney- it's not bad. Hope you enjoy it

  6. Anonymous20/9/10 11:22

    The premise of the book sounds very interesting! I think I have a book somewhere about Vidocq.


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