The Murder Room: The Heirs of Sherlock Holmes Gather to Solve the World's Most Perplexing Cold Cases

( 131 )

Overview

Thrilling, true crime tales from the Vidocq Society - a team of the world's finest forensic investigators whose monthly lunches lead to justice in ice-cold murders.

Three of the greatest detectives in the world were heartsick over the growing tide of unsolved murders. Good friends and sometime rivals William Fleisher, Frank Bender, and Richard Walter decided one day over lunch that something had to be done, and pledged themselves to a grand ...

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Overview

Thrilling, true crime tales from the Vidocq Society - a team of the world's finest forensic investigators whose monthly lunches lead to justice in ice-cold murders.

Three of the greatest detectives in the world were heartsick over the growing tide of unsolved murders. Good friends and sometime rivals William Fleisher, Frank Bender, and Richard Walter decided one day over lunch that something had to be done, and pledged themselves to a grand quest for justice.

The Murder Room draws the reader into a chilling, darkly humorous, awe-inspiring world as the three partners travel far from their Victorian dining room to hunt ruthless killers, among them the grisly murderer of a millionaire's son, a serial killer who carves off faces, and a child killer enjoying fifty years of freedom and dark fantasy.

Acclaimed bestselling author Michael Capuzzo brings true crime realistically and vividly to life in this account of a group of passionate men and women, inspired by their own wounded hearts to make a stand for truth, goodness, and justice in a world gone mad.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Named after the real-life sleuth who inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes story, the Vidocq Society of Philadelphia has been grappling for decades with supposedly uncrackable cases. In The Murder Room, Michael Capuzzo profiles the Society's three idiosyncratic founders and follows these talented researchers as they use their specialized knowledge to solve exceptionally weird and perplexing historical cases.
Publishers Weekly
Despite journalist Capuzzo's obvious reverence for the crime fighters he profiles, his account of the formation of the legendary Vidocq Society is as scattered as many of the cold case files they wade through. Based in Philadelphia, the Vidocq Society was the brainchild of three wildly different men brought together by their desire to speak for the dead: freewheeling exboxer turned forensic sculptor Frank Bender; FBI and U.S. Customs agent William Fleisher; and pre-eminent forensic psychologist and profiler Richard Walter. What began as an informal meeting of colleagues in 1990 evolved into an expansive international think tank of sorts modeled and named after France's famed criminal-turned-sleuth Euge`ne Vidocq, a model for Sherlock Holmes. The cases--ranging from Philadelphia's long-festering "Boy in the Box" murder to the "Butcher of Cleveland," a serial killer who taunted Elliot Ness in the 1930s--are fascinating, but Capuzzo (Close to Shore) loses much of his narrative momentum by abruptly shifting between the founding members' individual backstories and homicides the society investigates. Yet there is no denying that the 82 "VSMs"(Vidocq Society Member) do an immeasurable service in the name of justice. (Aug. 10)
Kirkus Reviews
Former Philadelphia Inquirer and Miami Herald reporter Capuzzo (Close to Shore: A True Story of Terror in an Age of Innocence, 2001, etc.) reveals the inner workings of the mysterious Vidocq Society, a team of celebrated forensic investigators that regularly meets to tackle unsolved murder cases that have stymied conventional homicide-detection techniques. The heart of the Society consists of William Fleisher, an avuncular former federal agent with a gift for networking; Richard Walter, a prickly and brilliant profiler obsessed with plumbing the depths of the murderous mind; and Frank Bender, a master forensic sculptor of seemingly supernatural talents. These men and their cohorts have proven a devastatingly effective team, solving scores of seemingly hopeless cold cases through a combination of experience, dogged passion for justice and shared sets of obscure and highly specialized skills. The book intrigues and disgusts in equal measure with its graphically detailed descriptions of the most depraved murders imaginable, and the material might be unbearable without the fantastic successes of the brilliant detectives who bring the malefactors to justice. Bender and Walter are an irresistibly entertaining team. The cadaverous, supercilious Walter, chain-smoking in ascetic contemplation in his Victorian manse, contrasts deliciously with Bender, a voluble, compulsive womanizer who balances a hedonistic approach to life with an uncanny instinct for accurately visualizing complete, detailed faces based on the slimmest fragments of forensic evidence. The case of John List, an upright churchgoer who murdered his entire family before disappearing for some 18 years, demonstrates the weird and potent chemistry shared by the sleuths. Walter developed a startlingly accurate profile of List, determining the area in which he was hiding, the work he did, the car he drove and his manner of dress. Bender created a bust depicting the changes to List's appearance that had occurred during the intervening years. Both men were dead on the money, and List was caught-but the Vidocq members couldn't stop sniping over whose idea it had been to add heavy horn-rim glasses to the bust. With these men, the details are everything. Terrifying, engrossing, inspirational and surprisingly funny.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780594468318
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 6/7/2011
  • Pages: 464
  • Sales rank: 32,357
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Capuzzo

Born in Boston and educated at Northwestern University, Michael Capuzzo is the author of the acclaimed New York Times Bestseller Close to Shore, a historical thriller of the true story that inspired the novel and movie Jaws. Winner of many writing prizes as a staff reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Miami Herald, and for stories in magazines including Sports Illustrated, Esquire and Life, he lives in Pennsylvania, where he and his wife publish a prize-winning storytelling magazine, Mountain Home.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1
The Connoisseurs of Murder

The great hall was filled with the lingering aroma of pork and mallard duck sausage as black-vested waiters appeared, shouldering cups of vanilla bean blancmange. Connoisseurs sat at tables between the hearths under glittering eighteenth-century chandeliers, chatting amiably in several languages. When the coffee arrived, a fine Colombian supremo steaming in its pots, the image of the corpse of a young man of uncommon beauty, lying on his back, materialized in the center of the room.

A gray winter light slanted into the hall, as the midday sun had sailed beyond the city, and the image on the large screen was crisp. The young man's blond locks were matted in a corona of dried blood, his sculpted cheekbones reduced to a pulp. The police photograph had been taken at night in a restaurant alley, and the surrounding scene was obscured in darkness. Yet the strobe light had thrown the young man's face into sharp relief. Out of the shadows of a distant southern night, the stark, wide-open eyes loomed over the room.

It was shortly before one o'clock in the afternoon, and the fifth and final course had been served to the connoisseurs of the Vidocq Society.

"My goodness," said a short-haired young woman in a red dress. Patting her mouth with a napkin, she excused herself from the table and, a hand over her mouth, hurried to the door. William Fleisher, a big man in a magnificent blue suit, WLF embroidered on his custom shirt, sadly shook his large, bearded head. "We need to do a better job screening guests," he said. Richard Walter, his gaunt cheekbones sunken in the wan light, glared at the departing figure. Frank Bender—clad in a tight black T-shirt and jeans, the only man in the hall not wearing a suit—whispered to the detective next to him, "Nice legs."

Fleisher shook his head in wonderment at the two eccentric, moody geniuses with whom he had thrown in his lot. His partners were criminologists without peer or precedent in his thirty years with the feds.

Forensic psychologist Richard Walter was the coolest eye on murder in the world. Tall and acerbic, he spoke with a clipped propriety that had earned him the moniker the Englishman from certain criminal elements. Walter had spent twenty years treating the most violent psychopaths in the state of Michigan at the largest walled penitentiary in the world, in Jackson, and at one of the toughest, the old Romanesque castle in Marquette on Lake Superior. His habit of peering over the top of his owlish black glasses and boring into the souls of inmates was known as the "Marquette stare," and it was a look to be avoided at all costs. He employed it to crack the façade of psychopaths. Walter was unsurpassed in his understanding of the darkest regions of the heart. In his spare time, moonlighting as a consulting detective, he was one of the small group of American criminologists who invented modern criminal profiling in the 1970s and '80s to battle serial killers.

At Scotland Yard, which used him on the most extreme murder cases, he was known as the "Living Sherlock Holmes"—an epithet that horrified him.

"Richard looks like Basil Rathbone in The Hound of the Baskervilles," Fleisher said. "He talks like him, he thinks like him."

"Whenever someone says that," Walter said, "I look away and wait for the moment to pass, as if someone has just farted."

Frank Bender was the most celebrated forensic artist working at that time, perhaps in history. The wiry ex-boxer was muscled and balding, with a Van Dyke beard and piercing hazel eyes. For the occasion, he wore long sleeves that concealed his Navy tattoos. Bender, who grew up in tough North Philadelphia with bullets hitting the row house wall, was high school-educated, blunt-spoken, happily sex-addicted, and a psychic—a gift he was shy about in the roomful of cops. But cops were awed by his ability to keep six or seven girlfriends happy as well as his wife, and to catch Most Wanted mass murderers with a sketchpad and scalpel. "Frank," Walter liked to tease him. "You would have been burned at the stake in the seventeenth century. Now you'll just get shot in the back."

The tall, melancholy, deductive Walter and the manic, intuitive Bender were blood brothers and partners on major cases. A detective duo without precedent, the psychologist and artist were capable of penetrating secrets of the living and the dead. When they could stand each other.

Bender saw dead people; Walter was contemptuous of spiritualism. The artist counted his sexual conquests in the hundreds; the psychologist, divorced, shrank from the touch of man, woman, child, dog, and cat. Walter was the most orderly mind on a murder, Bender the most chaotic.

William Lynn Fleisher was the glue that held the three together—the one, friends said, "with a sail attached to the mast." The sartorial big man was the number two in charge of United States Customs law enforcement in three states, a world-class polygraph examiner and interrogator, a former FBI special agent, and an ex-Philadelphia beat cop. Fleisher was obsessed with the truth, had made himself a scholar of the history of truth-finding and an expert at distinguishing the truth from a lie. He used the polygraph to try to peer into the hearts of men to judge them, but really what he wanted to do was redeem them—both the criminals whose psychophysiological signs spiked with guilt, and their tragic victims whose suffering society forgot. The big man, it was said by his special agents, had gained a hundred pounds to make room for his heart.

Bender and Walter were the most astonishing investigative team Fleisher had ever seen, equal parts reason and revelation, when they turned their combustible gifts on a killer and not on each other, like a man trying to extinguish his own shadow. The stout federal agent was the administrator who allowed them to take shape and function in the world.

They had met that morning in Bender's hall of bones, where a legendary and especially terrifying mob hit man had been the force that first brought them together, bonded in their fierce and awkward way, to create a private club of forensic avengers. Fleisher was sipping coffee with Bender at the kitchen table when the thin man entered the warehouse studio, nose wrinkled in disapproval "at the cat smells and whatever else."

"Richard!" Bender shouted, pumping Walter's hand enthusiastically, yet careful not to give a manly hug. "Let me show you my new painting!"

It was an enormous, brightly colored oil portrait of one of his many girlfriends, rendered in paint as thick as cake frosting. It was an eight-foot frontal nude; from the left nipple dangled a real brass ring.

"Chrissie has the cutest little butt," Bender said quietly, smiling as if visited by a wonderful memory.

Walter stood with his nose upturned, which pushed his mouth into a frown, studying the painting for a long moment.

"It's smut, Frank," he declared, turning away. "Simple smut." Bender howled with delight, as if there was no greater compliment. Walter glared at him. "Frank, Jesus Christ, you're almost sixty years old, and you're behaving like a fifteen-year-old Bolivian sex slave houseboy! You're using sex as an antidote to depression. As I have tried to explain, at our age it is not healthy for one to live as if one is poised before a mirror ringed with stage lights. One day the lights will go out and you will look in the mirror and see nothing at all.

"Now I'll take some coffee, black, if it's not too much trouble," Walter added. "I'm not fussy, so long as it wasn't boiled with a head."

Now with Fleisher in the great hall, Bender and Walter greeted each other warmly. The three men radiated an energy that seemed to animate the room. The habitual sadness in Fleisher's brown eyes lifted like a mist as he looked proudly across the gathering. All morning forensic specialists from around the globe had been quietly arriving at Second and Walnut streets in Philadelphia. They had gathered as they arrived in the high-ceilinged Coffee Room and Subscription Room on the first floor of the tavern, where colonists had once discussed politics, trade, and ship movements over the latest magazines and Franklin's Pennsylvania Gazette. Fleisher had felt the heady buzz of reunited friends, peers, and rivals. But now as he studied the assembly of sleuths from seventeen American states and eleven foreign countries, he sensed that something special was happening. Each man and woman was more renowned than the next.

There was FBI agent Robert Ressler, tall and silver-haired, who had confronted Charles Manson, John Wayne Gacy, and more "serial killers," a term he coined, than anyone in history. He was accepting congratulations, and no small amount of teasing, for The Silence of the Lambs, the new hit movie featuring Hannibal "The Cannibal" Lecter being hunted by the FBI's Jack Crawford, a character based partly on Ressler. Ressler was never far from his cohort Richard Walter. They were two of the greatest profilers in the world.

Of equal distinction were the forensic pathologists. Their table included Dr. Hal Fillinger of Philadelphia, who had proven that the "Unicorn Killer," fugitive Ira Einhorn, had murdered his girlfriend Holly Maddux; Fillinger had arrived in his big white Cadillac with the "Homicide Hal" vanity plates. Next to him sat Dr. Richard Froede of Arizona, who would autopsy the remains of kidnapped CIA agent William Buckley, tortured, murdered, and dumped at a Beirut roadside by Islamic jihadists. Among the Philadelphia cops was Frank Friel, the former homicide captain who solved the 1981 assassination of mob underboss Philip "Chicken Man" Testa, immortalized in Bruce Springsteen's song "Atlantic City": "…they blew up the chicken man in Philly last night…" Fleisher saw noted investigators of the JFK and Martin Luther King assassinations, and a CIA friend who was leading the bureau's secret war on Afghanistan, sitting with a colleague, a young blond female "spook" who loathed to show her face in public, even here. At the French table, with the agents from Interpol in Lyon, sat the director of Brigade de la Sûreté in Paris, the French equivalent of the FBI. Sûreté, founded in 1811 by Vidocq, had been the very first state investigative agency, later inspiring the creation of the FBI and Scotland Yard.

The chamber on the second floor of the City Tavern was the historic Long Room, forty-four feet long and narrow with a soaring chapel ceiling, the first ballroom in the New World, where General George Washington had toasted his election to the presidency as cannons boomed across the city and Madeira glasses smashed. By modern standards it was austere, a pale green chamber with chair rails and candle sconces. But now it had been arranged to re-create the spirit of a second-floor chamber in Paris in 1833. In the upstairs room of No. 12 rue Cloche-Perce, Vidocq had run the first private detective agency in history, Le Bureau des Renseignements (Office of Information), seventeen years before the Pinkerton Agency was founded in the United States. It was the first room in history designed for a group of men to systematically deduce and brainstorm solutions to murder cases.

In the north corner of the room, overlooking the Delaware River, a bronze bust of Eugène François Vidocq rested on an oak pedestal. The wide, arrogant face was stippled in shadows from the heavy green drapes, beneath crossed French and American flags. In the room at No. 12 rue Cloche-Perce, in the flickering shadows of hissing gaslights, Vidocq and his men kept intricate records to track criminals' patterns. They discussed motive and modus operandi in greater detail than ever before in history. They made plaster casts of shoe impressions and studied bullets to link them to crimes. They worked under paintings of Damiens being quartered, John the Baptist losing his head, and Ravaillac being tortured. They were the first modern criminologists. Convinced of their superior knowledge of the criminal mind, Vidocq had chosen them from the ranks of ex-convicts, like himself.

Each of the men and women at the long tables wore a redwhite-blue pin on their lapels—Les Couleurs, the colors of France, the signature of their status as Vidocq Society Members (VSMs). There were eighty-two VSMs, one for each year of Vidocq's life. It was the world's most exclusive club, open, regardless of race, sex, age, or national origin, only to the best detectives and forensic scientists on the planet. They had been called the greatest gathering of forensic detectives ever assembled in one room. "No police agency in the world has the luxury of this kind of talent," Fleisher said. The New York Times declared the Vidocq Society "The Heirs of Holmes." "This is not a gathering of a ragtag bunch of Baker Street Irregulars playing dutiful amanuensis to Sherlock Holmes's genius," the Times said. "Nor are they a bunch of good-natured Archie Goodwins, filling the role of narrator and legman to the sedentary but brilliant Nero Wolfe in the mystery novels of Rex Stout…It is a group that collectively has hundreds of years of crime-solving experience."

The Vidocq Society's mission was simple and straightforward: As many as one in three murders in the United States went unsolved. It was a well of suffering scarcely known to the journalists who claimed crime was sensational and overblown, or the millions of Americans entertained nightly by it on TV. Murder was a scourge that had taken more than a million lives, more than most of the American wars ever fought in the twentieth century. Cops were overworked, departments underfunded; the criminal justice system favored the rights of criminals over victims. In a world that had forgotten its heroes, they resolved, by the light of a twelfth-century chivalric pledge, to hunt down murderers in cold cases, punish the guilty, free the innocent, and avenge, protect, and succor families victimized by murder. They resolved to work pro bono rather than swat a golf ball around in Florida or Arizona. They met on the third Thursday of every month; they were the Thursday Club. The eighty-two of them pledged themselves to their cause until death, when the rosette would be pinned on another man or woman chosen to fight for a better world.

The old Victorian brownstone on Locust Street in Philadelphia, headquarters of the Vidocq Society, was besieged with requests from around the world from cops and victims seeking an audience in the private chamber in City Tavern. A congressman who wanted to solve a murder in his family. A federal agent in Washington who needed another pair of eyes on the assassination of a woman agent in broad daylight while jogging. A young, small-town Tennessee cop overmatched by an elderly millionaire serial killer who moved from state to state killing his wives. But the Vidocq Society would not touch a case unless it was a murder, the victim had committed no crimes, and the case was at least two years old, officially a "cold case." "Our mission is to help the police at their request, working quietly in the background without fanfare, to act as an agent for justice," Fleisher said. In all cases, the society required the presence in the room of the municipal police officers, state or federal agents, or government prosecutors working on the cold case; families looking for vengeance became too emotional without official support. Yet in rare instances, when police corruption was suspected, an ordinary citizen was granted an audience before the Vidocq Society. This afternoon was one of those cases, when an ordinary citizen had earned an audience before the forensic court of last resort.

At one o'clock, Fleisher stood at the lectern and welcomed them from four continents to Philadelphia and the monthly convening of the Vidocq Society. Before lunch, he had led them in the Pledge of Allegiance, hand clamped over his heart, his voice the loudest in the room. He had introduced a pastor who asked that God favor and guide their undertakings for justice. Now Fleisher loosened the room with a joke about their purpose, "to enjoy my great hobby, which is lunch." Then he reminded them somberly that their work was to speak for the dead who cannot speak for themselves. It was sacred work.

The essential method that Fleisher, Bender, and Walter had resurrected from the nineteenth century was deceptively simple: They had filled a room with detectives to unmask a crime of murder. Like Vidocq's ex-cons, though far more sophisticated, they had at their disposal the most advanced forensic tools of their age. Busboys swarmed out of the kitchen and swept away the last of the silver and china, carded the remaining crumbs from the white tablecloths. As the coffee was poured, the historic chamber was no longer the Long Room. It was the Murder Room, reborn.

At ten past one, Fleisher introduced Mr. Antoine LeHavre of Louisiana. A rotund man in his forties with dark hair and a gentlemanly manner, LeHavre wore a sports jacket and eyes burdened with woe. He stood at the lectern, slightly to the right of the gruesome image of his slain friend. There was an air of anticipation, as never before had an ordinary citizen presented to the Vidocq Society, alone.

LeHavre began by thanking the society for inviting him. "I know that you better than anyone else understand what I've been through," he said. "I just couldn't take it anymore. I couldn't do it anymore alone."

They had all seen enough cases to know the Murder Room was a place to walk far around, a step in life to bypass if you could. The chamber was invisible to a happy man. Agony lit the way. The room appeared to the suffering. They had seen his like before. He was one of the walking dead, zombified by the unsolved murder of a friend or loved one, a man willing to crawl to the end of the Earth to right a terrible wrong. But they saw something else as well, also well known among them: After four courses served hot, Antoine LeHavre was ready for revenge, served ice-cold.

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Table of Contents

Prologue

The Profiler and the Priest

The Voice of the Blood

PART ONE THE MURDER ROOM

Chapter 1 The Connoisseurs of Murder 1

Chapter 2 The Man Who Got Away with Murder 10

Chapter 3 The Knights of the Cafe Table 17

PART TWO FOUR BOYS

Chapter 4 A Little Child Shall Lead Them 23

Chapter 5 Cops and Robbers 30

Chapter 6 The Man Who Saw Dead People 42

Chapter 7 Shades of the Dark Knight 51

Chapter 8 Guardians of the City 57

Chapter 9 Cold Eyes from the Past 63

Chapter 10 On the Trail of the Assassin 66

Chapter 11 Death of a B-Girl 70

Chapter 12 The Visual Detective 83

Chapter 13 The Man with the Bad Stomach 92

Chapter 14 On the Trail of the Warlock 100

Chapter 15 The Reluctant Knight-Errant 109

Chapter 16 The Perfect Mass Murder 113

Chapter 17 The Mask of the Invisible Man 122

Chapter 18 The Return of Vidocq 130

PART THREE THE VIDOCQ SOCIETY

Chapter 19 The Gathering of Detectives 139

Chapter 20 Busted 146

Chapter 21 The Detective of Souls 156

Chapter 22 The Death Artist 160

Chapter 23 Dreams of Morpheus 164

Chapter 24 A Case They Can't Let Go 166

Chapter 25 The Butcher of Cleveland 178

Chapter 26 Imploring God 188

Chapter 27 The End of the Affair 192

Chapter 28 Catch Me If You Can 198

Chapter 29 The Case of the Shoeless Corpse 206

Chapter 30 The Case of the Prodigal Son 216

Chapter 31 The Sage of Scotland Yard 220

Chapter 32 Think Therefore on Revenge 227

Chapter 33 Murder in the Cathedral 236

Chapter 34 What I Want to Hear Are Handcuffs 242

Chapter 35 The Consulting Detectives 253

PART FOUR BATTLING MONSTERS

Chapter 36 Take Me to the Psychopath 261

Chapter 37 The Stranger in Biddle House 268

Chapter 38 City of Brotherly Mayhem 279

Chapter 39 Wrath Sweeter by Far than the Honeycomb 283

Chapter 40 The Worst Mother in History 294

Chapter 41 The Boy Who Never Died 298

Chapter 42 The Eight Babies Called "It" 304

Chapter 43 Murder in Triplicate 310

Chapter 44 From Heaven to Hell 316

Chapter 45 The Descent 322

Chapter 46 In the World Which Will Be Renewed 328

Chapter 47 "Congratulations, You've Found Your Killer" 332

Chapter 48 Interrogation 337

Chapter 49 The Haunting of Mary 348

Chapter 50 The Case of the Missing Face 350

Chapter 51 The Killer Angels 360

Chapter 52 The Ghost 373

Chapter 53 The Ninth Circle of Hell 380

Chapter 54 Death in the Time of Bananas 395

Chapter 55 The Miracle on South Street 399

Chapter 56 Knights of the Round Tables 405

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 131 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(59)

4 Star

(36)

3 Star

(20)

2 Star

(8)

1 Star

(8)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 132 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 27, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    The over fifty cases are fascinating in a macabre way

    This is a terrific look at the mysterious (pun intended) Vidocq Society pledged to solve the tundra of cold cases. Established by internet expert William Fleisher, profiling guru Richard Walter and forensic sculptor Frank Bender, the group is named after Napoleonic era Parisian detective Eugene Vidocq. They meet to brainstorm, discuss processes and solve cases as cold as five decades old and more.

    The over fifty cases are fascinating in a macabre way as Michael Capuzzo graphically describes the crimes such as Marie Noe convicted as a septuagenarian in 1999 for killing eight of her kids in 1949 or John List who murdered his family to keep them religiously pure but afterward vanished for two decades before being sculptured. Well written, it is the human element accentuated by the victims such as Widow Marilyn Flax who negotiated with her husband's kidnapper-killer that grips the audience; her story will leave readers eyes watering. Throughout the 56 entries is the underlying competitive camaraderie between the trio, bickering to the amusement of observers like us readers over glasses. Graphic (one killer cut off the visage of those murdered) yet heartfelt (all will cheer when the caught priest mutters "God damn", The Murder Room is a true crime winner.

    Harriet Klausner

    15 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 12, 2010

    true crime is stranger than fiction

    In what I took to be a series of vignettes, Capuzzo leads us on a journey into the mind of the sadistic, sexual, serial killer. His style led me to see this was a much better story than when I originally picked up the book. Not until I discovered a sheath of photographs halfway through the book did I realize this was in fact an actual true-crime book. The stories he had woven together where stranger than fiction and all of them chillingly real.
    From cold-case headlines, predominantly, at least initially in the Philadelphia, PA area we learn about a pro-bono, crime-fighting unit named the Vidocq Society. The group, formed by former FBI agent and private detective William Fleisher, psychic forensic artist Frank Bender and forensic psychologist Richard Walter lead us through the most bizarre, traumatic crimes ever committed, and one by one, with help from the other society members, finally put to rest scores of unsolved murders.
    During brainstorming sessions where lunch was often, 'chicken, steamed vegetables and a corpse with a small and unforgettable face' these miracle workers brought closure to many a forgotten family who were glad to know these, 'were men who had a green thumb in the garden of death.' Without impeding on going, police investigations they refused any case until it was at least two-years-old. Many cases where two decades old. They discussed centuries old murders and had a melding of minds and enjoyed lively discussions with like-minded individuals.
    These larger than life characters will open your eyes and your minds to the impossible, and transport you to a world you don't want to believe exists outside of your comfortable living room.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 8, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A very frightening look into the abyss of evil!!!!!

    I am very shaken and overwelmed with the naked forces of evil exposed by the brilliant minds united in the pursuit of justice. Micheal Capuzzo has done a fabulous job of telling the story of the Vidoqc's society's adventures into the realm of darkness seldom understood by everyday people. If the forces of goodwill on earth ever meet and engage in battle with the forces of darkness this book has put some of their battles on dispay for us all. This book like strong drink is not for the feeble hearted or tender stomach. You will need courage and fortitude to endure the words written on the pages of this book. Enjoy your guided trip into the depts of the wicked souls of evil people who have an infinite capacity to shock the human mind with the horor of their existance on earth.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 16, 2010

    Thrilling Ride

    "The Murder Room" is a thrilling ride that takes you from behind the police caution tape and into the interrogation room. Michael Capuzzo follows three men, modern day Sherlock Holmes, around their lives pursuing justice and creating the cold case cracking group: The Vidocq Society. This book is and outstanding 5 out of 5 stars. Capuzzo captures every detail of every case. If you aren't one for gore and murder, this book is definitely not for you. Capuzzo recreates murder scenes right from the crime scene itself and the detectives who were there to witness it. Because of the three would be heroes, this book's overall theme is strictly justice and avenging the innocent. Their passion is so strong and Capuzzo's writing is so excellent, the reader is immediately transported into the genius minds of Fleisher, Bender, and Walter. Although murder is a gruesome topic, "The Murder Room" isn't like any horror you've seen at the movies. Evil never prevails with Fleisher, Bender, and Walter on the case. Anyone who enjoys a good mystery or a taste for justice will love this book and be sad when the story has to end.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2013

    Unparalled in Scope

    When I first began reading this book, I didn't realize that it was a series of true accounts. I found myself totally immersed in the book and read until I fell asleep and my first thought in the morning was to open my Nook and read my book! If you like crime fiction, this is a must read. As the saying goes, "Life is stranger than fiction." Five stars in all respects.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 22, 2013

    This writing contains a plethora of verbiage that is totally unn

    This writing contains a plethora of verbiage that is totally unnecessary in telling the story. I think the story being told could be interesting, if the writer wasn't so hung up on using every world in the dictionary 25 times. It was easy to fortget people, dead or alive, as he went from one character to another and then five chapters later back to the first one. Because of over describing everyone and everything I want to say this book could kill you with horedom. I got the feeling that the author was tryintg to present this book as a mystery to be solved like the Vidocq Society reviews things - way to many detail/words in a book about a society that actually needs detail to do their work.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 4, 2011

    I loved this book!

    I love true crime and this book is honestly one of the best i have read by any author! I loved the way this story was told, and with so much detail. I wish he would write more books in this genre and would read them in a second! I have already reccomended this book to many people.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 5, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Intriguing, insightful!

    Murders happen to other people, never to you or those whom you know. Right? Think again. I've nearly been killed three times;two persons I know have died. The Murder Room, is the result of five years' effort by the author, delving into records,researching the Vidocq Society, heirs of Sherlock Holmes who gather to solve the world's most perplexing cold cases.This group of amazingly passionate sleuths, studied 300 cold cases and solved 90 percent of them, unsolved, some for over 47 yrs. Named after nineteenth-century Paris detective Eugene Francois Vidocq, the father of forensic detective techniques. The society was organized in 1989 by three men: former FBI agent, Bill Fleisher; an amazing psychological profiler, called ' the living Sherlock Holmes, Richard Walter, and forensic artist, Frank Bender, said to be able to speak with the dead, and thus capture a person's essence in clay. His the ability to model a person as he would look now from pictures 15 -20 years old. There are 82 members; with associates 150. The society is now global, as are cases presented for consideration. All members give of their time and skills pro bono, that is 'for the public good'. Cases must be at least two years old with the local policing agency requesting assistance in solving the crime. In many instances, once the crime is solved and announced to the public, the society's name is not even mentioned. The importance in the group's intervention is justice: finding a name of the victim, tracking the killer and holding that person accountable for the crime or crimes committed,giving both the family resolution, the victim justice. Michael Capuzzo is a masterful writer and the story's concentration of the founding members and how their prior experiences influenced their skill and dedication. Law enforcement and everyone like you will benefit by reading this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 3, 2010

    Awkward

    This is a good book. It is not a great book. The way the story of the Vidocq society, its founders, and some of its cases is told is awkward! While the society is a story well worth telling it is chopped up into little pieces. It becomes difficult to carry the thread of a story from section to section. I almost wanted to cut the book apart and put the story lines together. GOOD story! BAD writing!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2014

    One star is generous

    Very convoluted writing; hard to imagine this survived an editor's pen.

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  • Posted July 12, 2012

    Highly Recommended

    This is fantastic. Written with such ease of a novel, and really keeps your interest.

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  • Posted December 9, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Unknown Detectives

    If you are a interested in true crime stories and would like to learn about a society were experts from various fields come together to help or solve cold case mysteries for law enforcement agents and the average citizen, then this is a book you should consider reading. Inside of this book contains short stories about the 3 founders of the Vidocq Society and their colleagues experiences when it comes to solving cases and continuing to fight the battle of not giving up on seeing proper justice served for the victims. Although, the law is supposed to protect the innocent and punish the wicked for their crimes, the final judgement a lot of the times isn't all that cheerful. Due to a combination of events and loopholes in the law, criminals can walk away scotch free from their crimes for years before someone can carefully gather enough evidence to convict the criminal of their crimes. But even though the light at the end of the path you walk seems to be getting smaller, there is still hope that a group of specialized crime solvers can assist you with your case. And give you the resolution that you and any other people close to you, may need in order to move on with your life. Again, if you are a true crime reader and like to hear stories about the good/bad side of the law through the eyes of specialized individuals who have given up some of their time to help assist people with achieving some sort of closure to a case, then this is definitely a book that anyone should consider reading.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 20, 2011

    Murder Room

    I can still quote passages from this book even though i read it last year. Im willing to say im scarred for life from the recollections if these evil human beings. Torturous, sadistic schemes were cracked by the three greatest minds in american history, yet sometimes too late. My heart and prayers go out to all those innocent ppl who fell victim to the odious human beings described in the book. I do think it is worth your time reading

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 13, 2011

    fabulous Read!

    If you are a true crime junky you must read this true account of the vidoq society! What page turner. I read this book in two days!

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  • Posted October 7, 2011

    You don't want to miss this one!

    Every now and then you find a book that just completely transports you to another world. This is just one of those books.

    I grew up with a mother who was a forensic investigator way before forensics was cool. So I grew up seing crime scene photographs and hearing her talk, over the dinner table, about some of the cases she worked on.

    I can just imagine getting together a group of detectives and investigators and scientists to solve cases both cold and not so cold. The Vidoq Society started with 3 men with a common goal to solve crimes and bring the criminals to justice. They grew to an amazing group who did just that. I couldn't put the book down.

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  • Posted June 18, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I enjoyed it, but...

    A good read, but sometimes a little hard to follow. Several people are described and their investigations detailed back and forth. The book did not always have a smooth flow, at least not to me. The information behind these investigations is quite interesting. I learned more about criminal profiling and profilers. The subtle details revealed from cases was quite interesting. I wish the layout of the storyline was more linear and deliberate.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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