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by Sebastian Junger

In 1963, with the city of Boston already terrified by a series of savage crimes known as the Boston Stranglings, a murder occurred in Belmont, just a few blocks from the house of Sebastian Junger's family -- a murder that seemed to fit exactly the pattern of the Strangler. Roy Smith, a black man who had cleaned the victim's house that day, was convicted, but the terror of the Strangler continued.

Two years later, Albert DeSalvo, a handyman who had been working at the Jungers' home on the day of the Belmont murder, and had often spent time there alone with Sebastian and his mother, confessed in lurid detail to being the Boston Strangler.

By turns exciting and subtle, A Death in Belmont chronicles three lives that collide -- and are ultimately destroyed -- in the vortex of one of the most controversial serial murder cases in America. The power of the story and the brilliance of Junger's reporting place this book on the short shelf of classics beside In Cold Blood and Helter Skelter.

Download A Death in Belmont epub
ISBN: 0061126667
ISBN13: 978-0739475300
Category: Biographies
Subcategory: True Crime
Author: Sebastian Junger
Language: English
Publisher: Harper; Large Print edition (May 23, 2006)
Pages: 400 pages
ePUB size: 1499 kb
FB2 size: 1629 kb
Rating: 4.1
Votes: 188
Other Formats: lrf azw txt mbr

A Death in Belmont

Junger, Sebastian (2009-05-30). A Death in Belmont. W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.

Reviewed by Kurt C. Schuett and posted publicly on Great Britain's #1 Horror Site, Ginger Nuts of Horror

Sebastian Junger performs a rear-naked chokehold, also known as a “blood choke,” on his readers by restricting the vital fluid to their brains in A Death in Belmont. But instead of pinching his readers’ carotid arteries, he squeezes their emotional, moral, and psychological veins in this deeply descriptive, and disturbing, work of narrative nonfiction.

The series of murders highlighted in and around the City of Boston in the 60s, earmarked by increasingly dramatic staged sexual assaults and post-rape humiliations, serves as the book’s catalyst. Most readers will be shocked to discover the perverse arrangement of victims as the killer’s blueprint maintains consistency through ninety percent of the killings. One of this book’s strengths is its descriptive fact checking; Junger and his editors at W.W. Norton spared no expense in regard to their collective and expansive foot-noted road map of the Boston Strangler saga. The story’s rich treasury of details is somewhat reminiscent of Caputo’s In Cold Blood. Even as the aforesaid is a strength per my opinion, some may consider the vastness of Junger’s details a caveat. I hope not because any story firmly entrenched in the workings of the judicial system needs to be both comprehensive and meticulous in scope and sequence, especially in regard to a storyline like the Boston Strangler that has so many loopholes (pun intended).

Some might consider the 1960s a hiccup of recurrent racial tensions, extreme socio-economic diversity, and religious and/or personal belief system disparity, all of which have plagued the United States since its inception, but let’s call it what it really was—life. Coupled with the backdrop of civil rights activism in the 1960s, this book highlights both the struggles of poor minority and immigrant neighborhoods, which in turn serves as a foil to well-to-do communities like Belmont, Massachusetts. Mr. Junger not only gives his readers an interesting history lesson, but he shares a unique family life stamp as one of the potential perps, Al DeSalvo, actually spent time at his childhood home, serving as a handyman to a contracting crew building a studio for his mother. Junger juxtaposes the aforementioned with a detailed account of the arrest of Roy Smith, an African-American who was arrested, tried, and convicted for the murder and rape of Bessie Goldberg, a fellow resident of the affluent Boston suburb. The story revolves around Smith and DeSalvo, both jailed as one maintains his innocence as the Boston Strangler while the other, ironically, strives to achieve the ghastly distinction.

The only reservations I would extend concerning A Death in Belmont revolve around its editing. Any close reader will undoubtedly discover a handful of flagrant typos and awkward phrasing. Examples include commonplace misspellings (e.g. “thir” for their), redundancy (e.g. “so Giacoppo waited until his shift was over to drive over to 93…”), comma usage (e.g. failing to provide a comma in compound sentences: “He told Coughlin to go up the front stairs of the building and he pulled his gun and went up the back stairs.”), and apostrophe usage (e.g. plural-possessive mistake: “had to sleep under other peoples’ houses to…”) just to name a few. I can say after tweeting about a couple of the editing mistakes W.W. Norton replied via social media that they would update the files, which was admirable. But let’s call a spade a spade—these editing mistakes should have been caught long before this book ever went to both print and e-book, especially considering the reverence and devotion many readers hold toward the publishing giant W.W. Norton and Company.

But getting back to better things. There is nothing Punch and Judy about this novel—it’s an intellectual and serious read, and the storyline demands one’s attention. Plus, Junger gives several powerful maxims throughout the piece. Hands down, one of my favorite quotes in the book states:

“In some ways there is nothing less relevant than an old murder case. The reason it is important is this: Here is a group of people who have gathered to judge— and possibly execute— a fellow citizen. It’s the highest calling there is, the very thing that separates us from social anarchy, and it has to be done well.”

Undoubtedly, this quote is an analogy for life and everything that can and should govern it. Old murder cases are cold, both literally and figuratively, and whenever a story keeps you talking about it in small circles with friends and pondering the “what ifs” while lying in bed, it’s worth a go. A cross between Helter Skelter and In Cold Blood, the terrifying reality of bad things sometimes happening to good people makes Junger’s A Death in Belmont a relevant read in 2015.

4 out of 5 cigars
Уou ll never walk alone
Mr. Junger, you are a terrific writer. This story is well presented, highly engaging and I particularly love how you capture/relate the personalities involved in this story. The people seem so very real which is a damn good thing for a work of non-fiction. Duh. Best example - how you describe your mom's reaction when Al calls to her from the basement. I An intense moment perfectly captured by your prose. Anyhow, thanks for a very engaging read. TRIBE is still my favorite of your books, though WAR is an incredibly close second.
I down loaded this e-book from to my Kindle Fire. The Author Sebastian Junger did an excellent job writing this e-book which clearly took a lot of research. The story weaved in and out of multiple events from the Boston Strangler murders in the City of Boston in 1963, to the execution of the president of the United States of America in the streets of Dallas Texas. Some history from the south and what life was like and how people where perceived by each other took me by surprise. I am glad I chose to read this e-book. I was very disappointed in the quality of the formatting. There were many pages with large spaces in between the words and there were some missing words and two Typographical errors . This did take away from the reading experience and annoyed me while I was reading the e-book. I have and would recommend this e-book to a friend to read. I would not recommend buying this in the e-book format though. Buy the paper back for this one.
A good procedural is something of a guilty pleasure for me, and it always adds something when the author has a personal interest (see Robert Drewe's The Shark Net for example). And Junger does set the scene well - he describes the fear generated in Boston by the Strangler in the early 60s very well. He describes the arrest and trial of Roy Smith in relation to the Belmont murder well, and tries to be as neutral as possible given the evidence rules in place at the time and the fact that most of the protagonists are now dead.
But then - it sort of peters out. The fact is, noone is really sure what happened that day in Belmont. Junger doesn't really add any new evidence. What indeed can he add? He has his opinion as to what happened, and its one that I probably share, but really its just his opinion. I was left somewhat frustrated by the lack of anything significantly new being added to the evidence and even more frustrated by the pop psychologist attempt to "explain" the motivations and psyche of the putative Boston Strangler, De Salvo. A character has complex of De Salvo needs a more serous treatment of his warped motivations than this.
In short, a book that falls short of the admittedly high standards it aspires to
From a master, this is more than just a true-life murder mystery, it is a commentary on the social fabric of its time. A masterpiece of suspense, journalism and story-telling told with clarity and substance. It will stay with you long after you have put it down.
Sebastian Junger provides first person information about a probable serial killer to whom he was exposed in his youth, one who worked in his family's home. In his incredible style, Junger also goes deeply into the psyche of serial killers. It is a great read.
I enjoyed this book because I love crime books. Junger's connection to this series of crimes was surprising and interesting. I have been reading about the Boston Strangler since I was a teen, so this book satiated my curiosity. Junger is a great writer! When I read it, I felt as if I lived in Boston at that time.
Like all his books was very interesting and well written as opposed to other books of this type that leave no word unsaid and can be rather boring.