Friday Book Whimsy: The Spider and the Fly

Before I review this book, I have to tell you a deep, dark secret. I sort of, kind of, like to read about real-life murder and real-life murderers. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t intend to embark upon a killing spree ala Natural Born Killer, a movie I’ve never even seen. And what’s more, though I may be unique in that I admit it, many people are interested in murder. (I wish I could say it like the British do: muuuurdah.)

Anyway, I know I’m not the only one because podcasts about murders and murderers are wildly popular these days. My Favorite Murder is one of the more popular podcasts out there nowadays. (I don’t recommend it for everyone. Language, people.)

Anyway, The Spider and the Fly, by journalist Claudia Rowe, showed up on Book Bub, recommended for those who like nonfiction books that read like novels. As I am not a huge fan of nonfiction, this caught my eye, and I looked at the list of books. This one appealed to me because in the publisher’s description, it highlights this letter from real-life serial murderer Kendall Francois to the author:

Well, well, Claudia. Can I call you Claudia? I’ll have to give it to you, when confronted at least you’re honest, as honest as any reporter….You want to go into the depths of my mind and into my past. I want a peek into yours. It is only fair, isn’t it?

Oh my heavens. Doesn’t that sound like Hannibal Lector of Silence of the Lambs fame? I was hooked, and got my hands on the book as soon as possible.

Kendall Francois was convicted of killing eight women in Poughkeepsie, New York, between 1996 and 1998. What’s more, he kept these eight women in the attic of the home he shared with his mother, father, and a sister, who took no offense at the putrid smell coming from the attic and the appearance of maggots on their ceiling. Seems odd, doesn’t it?

Francois eventually confessed to the inept police (who had also visited the home, and it hadn’t raised any concerns), pleaded guilty, and was sent to live out most of the rest of his life at Attica prison. He eventually died of cancer at another prison in his 40s.

It was shortly after his confession that Ms. Rowe became interested in the murder and Francois himself. What, she wondered, could make a person become a serial murderer.

The book, however, is as much about the author and her messed-up life as it is about Kendall Francois. So if you embark on this reading journey thinking you will gain an understanding of why a person murders, you will be disappointed. Rowe becomes obsessed with the murderer because she thinks it might give her some insight into her own weird life.

By the way, despite the fact that Francois was a real-life murderer, he wasn’t as scary as Hannibal Lector because who could be?

This book is certainly not for everyone. The details are disturbing, and the fact that it is real stuff makes you want to not go out at night. Still, I admit that I enjoyed reading this book, though I might stick to murder mysteries from here on.

Here is a link to the book.