From the critically acclaimed writer of The Perfect Storm, Sebastian Junger, we have what is highly touted as journalism in A Death In Belmont. The premise (and I use that word lightly) has to do with the murder of Bessie Goldberg, a woman in her sixties who lived in Belmont, an upper middle class neighborhood in Boston. The police quickly come up with a suspect in Roy Smith, a black man easily remembered by witnesses in the predominantly white neighborhood. Initially, the police thought it might be the work of the ďBoston StranglerĒ who, by the way, was working as a carpentry assistant building an artist studio. That artist? Sebastian Jungerís mother.
Jungerís contention here is that his mother came within a hairsbreadth of being the next victim of the Boston Strangler. This is a stretch, to say the least. The book also contends that Albert Disalvon, not Roy Smith, might have killed Bessie Goldberg. The book contrasts the two stories, giving background on both men. Through supposition, contention, and some shoddy research, all you really have is a lot of posturing on the possibilities, but no real new evidence or even a compelling argument. It is more like a re-telling of the story with a nugget or two of new information, hardly enough to make a book out of it. Condensed to a lengthy magazine article might have been a better route for this.
Thatís not to say the book is a complete bust. The writing is good and there are some spots that really captured my attention. But those spots that interested me were everything else but the premise (thereís that word again) of this book. The crime statistics on serial killers and other things scattered throughout made for much more interesting material then the stretched idea that was A Death In Belmont. If you havenít already seen the A&E shows done on the Boston Strangler or read other books on the case, this will be fascinating reading.