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A Death in Belmont [Englisch] [Gebundene Ausgabe]

Sebastian Junger
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Kurzbeschreibung

7. April 2006
In the spring of 1963, the quiet suburb of Belmont, Massachusetts, is rocked by a shocking sex murder that exactly fits the pattern of the Boston Strangler. Sensing a break in the case that has paralyzed the city of Boston, the police track down a black man, Roy Smith, who cleaned the victim's house that day and left a receipt with his name on the kitchen counter. Smith is hastily convicted of the Belmont murder, but the terror of the Strangler continues. On the day of the murder, Albert DeSalvo the man who would eventually confess in lurid detail to the Strangler's crimes is also in Belmont, working as a carpenter at the Jungers' home. In this spare, powerful narrative, Sebastian Junger chronicles three lives that collide and ultimately are destroyed in the vortex of one of the first and most controversial serial murder cases in America."

Produktinformation

  • Gebundene Ausgabe: 266 Seiten
  • Verlag: W W Norton & Co; Auflage: New edition (7. April 2006)
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ISBN-10: 0393059804
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393059809
  • Größe und/oder Gewicht: 21,7 x 15,3 x 2,7 cm
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 3.0 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (1 Kundenrezension)
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 2.077.747 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)

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Produktbeschreibungen

Amazon.de

Imagine how strange and frightening it would be to see a picture of yourself, not quite a year old, with your mother and two men, one of whom is a confessed serial killer. This is what happened to Sebastian Junger, and only a small part of what he recounts in A Death in Belmont.

The quiet suburb of Belmont, Massacuusetts, is in the grip of fear. The Boston Strangler murders have taken place nearby, and now there is another shocking sex crime, right in Belmont. The victim is Bessie Goldberg, a middle-aged woman who had hired a cleaning man to help out around the house on that fall day in 1963. He is a black man named Roy Smith. He did the appointed chores, collected his money and left a receipt on the kitchen table. Neighbors will say that he looked furtive when he walked down the street, that he was in a hurry, that he stopped to buy cigarettes, that he looked over his shoulder. They didn't see a black man in Belmont very often, so, of course, they noticed him. So the story went, and on these slender threads, and his own checkered history, Roy Smith is convicted of the Belmont murder and sent to prison.

On the day of the murder, Albert DeSalvo, an Italian-American handyman, is also in Belmont, working as a carpenter in the Junger home, where the picture is taken. Two years after his work for the Jungers, he confesses in vivid detail to the crimes of which the Boston Strangler is accused, and sent to prison, where he is stabbed to death by an inmate. But he never confesses to the Bessie Goldberg murder. Could he have left the Junger home, committed the murder a few blocks away and calmly returned to finish his day's work? Could Roy Smith really have been the guilty party, even though his sentence was commuted after De Salvo confessed?

In the grand tradition of his bestselling The Perfect Storm, Junger tells a terrific story, lining up all the elements, asking all the pertinent questions, digging into the backgrounds of both men, retelling his mother's very strange encounter with Albert when she is home alone with Sebastian. He then asks the larger questions: Was Roy Smith convicted summarily because he was black? Was Albert De Salvo really the Boston Strangler?

Junger cannot answer all the questions, as no one can. Without DNA, there is no way to be certain of which of the two men might have committed the rape and murder of Bessie Goldberg, or if neither of them is guilty. While it is frustrating not to know for sure, the story is fascinating, reads like a tautly plotted mystery thriller, and Junger's close connection is downright creepy. --Valerie Ryan

Pressestimmen

Riveting. . . . a worthy sequel to The Perfect Storm. --Alan M. Dershowitz"

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3.0 von 5 Sternen Close Encounters with Criminals in Belmont 21. Juli 2006
Von Donald Mitchell TOP 500 REZENSENT
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
If you are looking for a sequel to A Perfect Storm, this isn't it. Instead, the book doesn't quite fit into any genre that I can remember.

Having lived in Belmont for several years after Mrs. Goldberg's murder, I remember well the subsequent tension and watchfulness towards strangers. People were still shocked by such a senseless murder of a nice woman.

A little of that legitimate paranoia carries over into Sebastian Junger's perspectives and ruminations about criminal synchronicity in A Death in Belmont.

The frontispiece of the book reveals a photograph of the author (at age one in his mother's lap) while a smiling Albert DeSalvo (the later self-confessed Boston Strangler who eventually recanted his confession) stands behind as though DeSalvo is the center of attention.

On the very day that Mrs. Goldberg was killed, Albert DeSalvo was doing casual labor at the Junger home. A few days before, DeSalvo had acted in a threatening way towards Mrs. Junger in the Junger's basement. Earlier the day she was killed, Mrs. Goldberg had unwittingly hired a felon to be her housecleaner who was later convicted of murdering her.

So, despite middle class Belmont feeling like a safe place, it's obvious that criminals were able to easily and openly enter peoples' homes there. Today, we know that we should be cautious about strangers . . . and even the Internet can bring criminals into our homes. But in the 1960s, the suburbs seemed like a fortress where nothing bad could happen.

So the obvious story for Mr. Junger was to describe in detail how two criminals came to be in dangerous proximity to vulnerable women. And he told that story.

But somewhere along the way, Mr. Junger decided that he should play legal investigator. That led Mr.
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Amazon.com: 3.2 von 5 Sternen  147 Rezensionen
22 von 25 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen Perfunctory and haphazard 31. Mai 2006
Von kevnm - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Junger has, in the past, intertwined a number of narratives to add complexity and texture to his writing. This structure added to the drama of A Perfect Storm, as the reader moved from the Coast Guard rescue operations to the Weather Service, to the fishing fleet, etc.

Here, though, the multiple narrative threads diluted the work, and felt like padding. The book is the story of a black man caught up in the Boston Strangler investigation. Junger deftly presents evidence which suggests he was innocent. A small amount of additional interest arises from the recounting of the crimes associated with Albert DeSalvo, and even less from the fact that DeSalvo worked briefly at the author's parents' home.

The rest, racism in the South, the economics of Parchman farm prison, Kennedy's assassination, discussions of serial killers and the justice system (which appear to be written for sixth-graders) are strictly padding. They're completely pointless, and still any momentum the narrative might have achieved.

Junger writes well, and this inflated magazine article is not a complete disaster. Admirers of Junger's writing can only hope he finds a story better suited to his considerable talents.
25 von 29 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
2.0 von 5 Sternen Outrageously Padded 13. August 2006
Von Kristin - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
By all rights, this should have been a five page magazine article instead of a 300+ page book. Although the premise is mildly interesting, most of the book consists of obvious filler. The need for more and more filler means that Junger (and his editors) imposed no self-discipline in his sometimes excrutiating meanderings. For example, it is clear that whoever killed Bessie Goldberg committed murder. To add a couple pages to the book, however, Junger inserts a completely irrelevant description of the legal standards for voluntary and involuntary manslaughter that (by the way) are not even accurate. When you're trying to fill up pages, every random tangent becomes fair game. The telling detail is overshadowed by the extraneous detail, which leaves the reader with the impression that Junger is a sloppy thinker. It's too bad, because he's a generally fabulous writer -- he's not only an excellent stylist, but he usually can put together a tight, cohesive narrative. I'm sure he got a hefty advance on this one, but I can't imagine it is worth the hit to his reputation to turn what could have been a lively magazine article into a book length swamp.
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2.0 von 5 Sternen Where was the editor? 7. Januar 2007
Von A reader - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Lots of amazon reviewers gave this book a low rating essentially because they think Smith was guilty. I'm reasonably persuaded that Smith was probably innocent -- not as convinced as Junger is, but open to the possibility. Still, I find this book barely worth reading.

First, Junger makes serious errors in regard to criminal justice that show he is out of his element. For example, he writes on p. 95 "once a jury has found someone innocent . . ." As most TV viewers know, juries find people NOT GUILTY, rather than innocent. Junger makes a big deal later in the book about "factual guilt" vs. "legal guilt," yet never makes the connection that juries do not pronounce people (factually) "innocent" but rather legally "not guilty."

On p. 115 he makes a more offensive mistake, claiming "Ideally ten guilty men go free for every innocent man who gets locked up." How could anyone honestly think this kind of error rate is our legal system's "ideal"? American jurisprudence has no such crude calculus of how much error is OK. Rather, the idea Junger has butchered is that we require proof beyond a reasonable doubt and provide other protections to the accused to PREVENT A SINGLE INNOCENT PERSON from being wrongly convicted -- the phrase is "Better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer." While it's true our system doesn't meet this ideal, the idea is that we bend over backwards to give rights to the accused, so that we're confident that when a person is convicted s/he is guilty.

Also in this vein, on p. 254 he compares juries to voters, another offensive mistake. In criminal cases we require unanimous verdicts, and they're called "jury DELIBERATIONS" for a reason. Unlike going to the ballot box, where a voter need not have deliberated or agreed with anyone, juries are required to discuss the evidence against the accused and to agree on a verdict. Jury decisions by majority vote are prohibited, and when jurors cannot agree there is a hung jury.

All of this may seem like trivia to non-lawyers, but to make such obvious errors suggests Junger's legal reasoning and powers of deduction (or induction) are very poor, making his claims untrustworthy.

Second, the book contains many typos ("work" for "word," "of" for "or," etc.) and other errors (twice he writes "principAL" when he means "principLE"), suggesting it was rushed to print, not carefully copy-edited, or edited by morons. That too suggests Junger's claims may not be sound.

Third, Junger's whole point in this book seems to be that he wants to prove a piece of family lore true -- "wow, my mom, but for her instincts and quick wit, could have been killed by the Boston Strangler." Perhaps, but that does not make for a compelling story. The personal angle actually detracts from the book, rather than making it more engaging, probably because it shapes the way Junger tells the tale (i.e., some facts are stretched all out of proportion to make the family story seem true).

This book is moderately interesting, but don't spend a lot of money on it.
17 von 20 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen Close Encounters with Criminals in Belmont 6. Mai 2006
Von Donald Mitchell - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
If you are looking for a sequel to A Perfect Storm, this isn't it. Instead, the book doesn't quite fit into any genre that I can remember.

Having lived in Belmont for several years after Mrs. Goldberg's murder, I remember well the subsequent tension and watchfulness towards strangers. People were still shocked by such a senseless murder of a nice woman.

A little of that legitimate paranoia carries over into Sebastian Junger's perspectives and ruminations about criminal synchronicity in A Death in Belmont.

The frontispiece of the book reveals a photograph of the author (at age one in his mother's lap) while a smiling Albert DeSalvo (the later self-confessed Boston Strangler who eventually recanted his confession) stands behind as though DeSalvo is the center of attention.

On the very day that Mrs. Goldberg was killed, Albert DeSalvo was doing casual labor at the Junger home. A few days before, DeSalvo had acted in a threatening way towards Mrs. Junger in the Junger's basement. Earlier the day she was killed, Mrs. Goldberg had unwittingly hired a felon to be her housecleaner who was later convicted of murdering her.

So, despite middle class Belmont feeling like a safe place, it's obvious that criminals were able to easily and openly enter peoples' homes there. Today, we know that we should be cautious about strangers . . . and even the Internet can bring criminals into our homes. But in the 1960s, the suburbs seemed like a fortress where nothing bad could happen.

So the obvious story for Mr. Junger was to describe in detail how two criminals came to be in dangerous proximity to vulnerable women. And he told that story.

But somewhere along the way, Mr. Junger decided that he should play legal investigator. That led Mr. Junger to look into two questions:

1. Was Roy Smith Mrs. Goldberg's murderer?

2. Was Albert DeSalvo the Boston Strangler?

Mr. Junger lacks the knowledge and skill to undertake such an investigation. He thrashes around among the clues and investigations a bit and plays "what if" games. But in the course of doing so, he ignores evaluating as much evidence as he discusses.

At the end, he leaves it up to you to decide if justice has been done in the Goldberg and Boston Strangler murders. But, I'm sure you'll feel like you don't know enough to say one way or another. That's primarily because the factual layout in the book is pretty weak.

What makes the book more interesting to the reader than his "what if" thinking about the murderers' identities are Mr. Junger's descriptions of the backgrounds of Roy Smith and Albert DeSalvo. It becomes easier to understand the two men after their biographies are somewhat developed.

Ultimately, the book is a sort of mish-mash of this and that which conjecturally makes the case for Roy Smith being innocent of the murder. The book is an advocate's case rather than an objective evaluation. As I mentioned above, there's not enough of the record displayed here to allow you to make a judgment. As a result, one cannot help wondering on second thought if a desire to stir up controversy was a motive in writing this book . . . as opposed to telling an objective story. If this book was designed to be such a promotional vehicle for Mr. Junger, I feel sorry for the Goldberg family. Recounting the ugly circumstances of their tragedy surely doesn't help bring them peace.
23 von 28 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
1.0 von 5 Sternen RESPONSE TO LILA 9. Mai 2006
Von Friend of Leah Goldberg - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
A Response to Lila

Smith's appeal is never discussed in the book. You are told in an oblique manner that the case in under appeal. Never is the reader told the results of the appeal when in 1966 the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court upheld the conviction

stating in its opinion " The jury could have found unusual opportunity, motive, possession after the crime of unexplained funds, incriminating action in leaving the house in disorder and the work unfinished, and subsequent conduct and false

statements showing consciousness of guilt. Evidence of consciousness of guilt, while not conclusive, may with other evidence be sufficient to prove guilt"

"This is not a case on which the guilt of the defendant is left to conjecture and surmise with no solid basis in fact."

Junger clearly states on page 254 that Smith was thought to be the Boston Strangler. Mike Giacoppo may have thought he was after the strangler, but Massachusetts State Police officials and FBI agents at the house on Scott Road the evening of March 11, 1963 told Leah Goldberg that Roy Smith was a parolee who was in prison during many of the murders and that this was a copy cat killing committed to cover up a robbery. The District Attorney's office at no time believed Smith was the Boston Strangler. If a newspaper reporter got carried away with a story, that has nothing to do with the police.

Leah Goldberg never told Sebastian Junger her impression of Smith's reaction to the verdict. She didn't see Smith's reaction because she wasn't there the day the verdict was

read.Actually Ms. Goldberg once told Junger that when she testified at trial she looked at Smith who seemed unemotional As for not quoting Ms Goldberg, Mr. Junger promised Ms.Goldberg in writing thathe would use only open sources for his book.

Mr. Delaney never states the name and address of the supposed Goldberg neighbor with whom he spoke in reference to a tip to the police about a man looking for work on the day of the murder. The Belmont Police have no record of any such tip. The entire matter is undocumented.

"Children coming home from school about 3 P. M. and soon thereafter playing ball in the street saw the defendant on the street near the Goldberg house and saw Goldberg come home. Their opportunity for observation extended over a good part though not all of the time between the defendant's departure and Goldberg's return." Commonwealth vs. Smith 350 Mass. 600

On page 256 Junger states "The logical problem with the state's case against Smith is that its core elements are known only because he told the truth. Admittedly the truth makes him look awfully guilty, but a theory about his guilt is incomplete without somehow taking into account the fact that he never lied about what he did that day."

1. Smith told police he was at the Goldberg home for 4 hours, when he was actually there for at most 2 hours and 20 minutes.

2. Smith told police he had been paid for 4 hours of work at $1.50 per hour plus .30 for transportation for a total of $6.30

3. Smith told police he had finished cleaning the house and left the rooms "in order". When Mr. Goldberg and, soon after, the police arrived they found the house had not been cleaned; all the living room furniture was pushed to the center of the room, the ornaments from the living room were on the dining room table and the vacuum cleaner with attachments was left in the middle of the living room.

4. Palm or fingerprints, later identified as Smith's were found on the mantel in the living room, on the mirror hanging above it, and on the vacuum cleaner. After his arrest, the

defendant told police that he did not clean the mirror, that he"didn't have anything to do" with it and he did not recall seeing a mantel.

The jury and the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court thought these statements by Smith were lies. What do you think?

If Smith told the truth and he had finished the cleaning leaving the house in good order,

than someone else would have had to get into the house leaving no sign of his presence,

kill Mrs. Goldberg, steal her money, and unclean the house; push the furniture into the middle of the room, and move the living room ornaments onto the dining room table. He also would have had to remove the vacuum cleaner from the closet, leaving it with attachments in the middle of the living room with Smith's palm and fingerprints undisturbed. Somehow he would have had to leave Smith's handprints on the dirty mirror. Smith left the house at 3:05 PM. Mr. Goldberg arrived home at 3:50 PM.

The author wants to tie his family's connection with Albert DeSalvo into a best selling mystery thriller. The only mystery is why Junger took a solid case and staked his credibility on a book which either omits or scatters the evidence in order to confuse the reader.
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