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A Death in Italy: The Definitive Account of the Amanda Knox Case [Hardcover]

John Follain
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Book Description

Aug. 21 2012
London Times journalist John Follain presents the most comprehensive account of the most publicized and controversial trial in a decade
Shortly after 12:30pm on November 2, 2007, Italian police were called to the Perugia home of twenty-one-year-old British student Meredith Kercher. They found her body on the floor under a beige quilt. Her throat had been cut.

Four days later, the prosecutor jailed Meredith's roommate, American student Amanda Knox, and Raffaele Sollecito, her Italian boyfriend. He also jailed Rudy Guede, an Ivory Coast drifter. Four years later Knox and Sollecito were acquitted amid chaotic scenes in front of the world's media.

Uniquely based on four years of reporting and access to the complete case files, and hundreds of first hand interviews, Death in Italy takes readers on a riveting journey behind the scenes of the investigation, as John Follain shares the drama of the trials and appeal hearings he lived through.

Including exclusive interviews with Meredith's friends and other key sources, Death in Italy reveals how the Italian dream turned into a nightmare.

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“John Follain gives a riveting account of the whole affair, from the murder and trial to the electrifying appeals-court decision. Along the way, he offers a vivid portrait of the woman at the center of it all. . . . If people are indeed guilty for the good they did not do, from all one can see, very few in Perugia connected to this trial were innocent.” —The Wall Street Journal

“Follain has drawn upon the transcripts of Knox's lengthy trial and hundreds of interviews to give what may be the definitive account of the case. It's an ugly, confusing story but one he relates with clarity, compassion and a wealth of fascinating detail … Follain’s account of this saga is gripping.” —The Washington Post

“A gripping read: a balanced, detailed account that allows the reader to respond to the central question: did they or didn't they?...It’s  hard to imagine there will be a better book on the subject.” —The Observer (UK)
“A ‘must read.’ An excellent account of the tragedy and the very Italian drama that followed.” —The Sunday Times (UK) 
“One of the most gripping court cases of recent times…[Follain’s book] does a good job of reminding us that amid the reams of print and reel are human lives; some innocent and some guilty, but all irreparably disfigured by this horribly sad story.” —The Daily Telegraph (UK)
“I was very much in the grip of this book. For two days I didn't switch on the TV...Follain's account will trouble you for days.” —The Evening Standard (UK)
“A hot-off-the press account of the riveting murder trial.” —The Newcastle Herald (New South Wales)
“A careful, factual account of the case from the very beginning, complete with exhaustive interviews with key players, assiduous explanation of the complex details of the case, and a good understanding of the Italian judicial process.” —The Canberra Times (Australia)

From the Back Cover


Did she or didn’t she? That is the question that riveted the world during the sensational year-long trial of Amanda Knox, the American foreign-exchange student accused of killing her British roommate, Meredith Kercher, in Perugia, Italy.


Shortly after 12.30 p.m. on November 2, 2007, Italian police were called to the Perugia home that Meredith shared with Amanda. They found Meredith’s lifeless body on the floor beneath a beige quilt. Her throat had been cut. Cash was missing. Was it a home invasion? Or something far more sinister? Amanda, along with her Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, were both jailed. What role, if any, did they have in Meredith’s murder? What was their relationship to Rudy Guede, an Ivory Coast drifter whose DNA was found at the scene of the crime? Author John Follain, who covered the case and trial for the London Sunday Times, conducted more than a hundred firsthand interviews with law enforcement officials and family and friends of both the victim and the accused to bring us the most balanced and exhaustively researched account of this controversial case.





* Includes 8 pages of dramatic photos *

--This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

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5.0 out of 5 stars well written and easy to read Dec 31 2013
By H. Orth
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I found the book to be quite good in telling the whole story of this case, and the terrible murder of young girl.
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Amazon.com: 3.3 out of 5 stars  61 reviews
41 of 57 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Excellent piece of inquisitorial propaganda Dec 2 2012
By Sienna L. Reid - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
I read this book when it came out but am only now writing a review. First off, there are many details that Follain makes in the book that are interesting, not found in other books and help to understand the case. But I give the book only 2 stars for the many things that Follain leaves out, the insinuations he includes that are not based on fact, and because of the tiny trivial things he uses to insinuate guilt of Amanda and Raffaele, without factual support.

This account of the Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito trial speaks only a little about the true murderer who was convicted on a fast track trial before Amanda and Raffaele were even allowed to go to court. This book ignores that fact that the only evidence in the room where Meredith was brutally murdered led straight to Rudy Guede. This book ignores the fact that the murderer Rudy Guede was known as a habitual liar, a thief, and drug addict who routinely broke into homes and offices in the same manner that he did the house of Meredith and Amanda. Follain lets us think that he had a clean record. This book ignores the absurdity of the fact that Guede was accused and convicted for murdering Meredith but not convicted of burglary or theft, even though the physical DNA evidence tied him to her purse. Somehow Follain tells certain things about Rudy but makes it out to still be Amanda who is guilty. The fact that Follain does this is truly criminal.

Now to what Follain does write about. Follain includes many details of the trial as well as relating the many absurdities of the trial. The problem is, he never analyzes them, or shows how they led to the wrongful conviction, even though it is obvious.

Follain does not reveal the worst of police behavior such as the destroying of the hard-drives of 3 out of 4 computers or the destruction of the cell phones. Follain does not tell us about Mignini being prosecuted for abuse of power or anything from the insanity of his role in the Monster of Florence investigations until page 371, at the end of the book, even though it is very important to understanding Mignini's character. Only seven scant paragraphs are devoted to this and they say nothing of the insanity that Mignini's actions reveal. Follain is actively protecting Mignini by revealing so little about him.

The illegal behavior of the police (i.e. they did not tell Amanda or Raffaele they were suspects, did not produce a video of the interrogations, they denied both Amanda and Raffaele lawyers), the illegal wire taps by police, the cost of Mignini's movie presented in court, and the absolutely unbelievable behavior by the Scientific Police in their collection of evidence which was well documented by their own videos and ultimately brought the whole case into a farcical light, the burning of the hard discs of the computers, not recording their interrogations, etc...).

The fact that Follain does not question the case as presented by the prosecution or refute their lies, means that he does not care about the truth .. i.e. "bare, bloody footprints" used as evidence actually tested negative for blood.

Follain's description given of the evidence presented by the prosecution is thorough while his representation of the case of the defense is scant and leaves out hours of testimony.

Follain does not question anything in the Massai/Christiani report which has to be one of the most ridiculous reconstructions of a crime scene ever, since the days of witch trials. There was no "evidence beyond a reasonable doubt" to back up anything in it, and nothing about Amanda and Raffaele's character supports it. The only supporting evidence was falsely reported by Stefanoni in all out lies about DNA, blood and footprint findings.

Follain ignores the entire character and evidence leading to the conviction of Rudy Guede. He does not criticize the police who declared that a known thief without a job (Rudy), who was a serial burglar who had threatened people before, and their declaration that Rudy would not have broken into the house and did not steal anything from Meredith or lie about anything. He does not state that Rudy who was the only person who left his DNA, footprints and fingerprints all over the crime scene.

Follain swoons about Mignini and uses much hyperbole to describe him. His description of Mignini shows his obvious admiration for him, yet though he tries to make him look good, just by describing Mignini's actions, he shows what an utterly dangerous and bizarre character the man is.

Follain, as Barbie Nadeau, has no sympathy for the accused and never tries through his "investigative journalism" to understand how the two could have been framed, manipulated and abused into the situation they were in. This is because he chose to believe in their guilt from the beginning. They are not innocent until proven guilty.

Both he and Nadeau use titles in their books to make them seem as if they have insider knowledge. They both back it up by saying they read all the documents and were present during most of the trial. Yet Follain ( and Nadeau) take all of Mignini's words as being gospel, no matter how absurd and rattled they are with pulp fiction-like absurdities.

Follain does not mention a word about Mignini's history as a truly dangerous man who invents diabolical, mysterious reasons for murder, ties them to mysterious cults with sex rituals, and is obsessed with unproven theories not backed by a shred of evidence. Nor does he mention the fact that Mignini has a history of shutting down journalists who don't swallow his bizarre lines of reasoning. I am sorry, but I thought journalism was about fact finding, not just swallowing the swill of the most powerful and leaving it at that.

The most interesting thing in this book is how Follain's close relationship to Mignini brings out the truth about his character, no matter how unwittingly. Mignini is shown to be a man obsessed by grand battles, thinks of himself as Sherlock Holmes and does anything he can to win. This is very telling when it comes to this trial. In fact that is what Mignini did. He lied, bent evidence, withheld evidence and records from the defense. Even more disgusting he made Amanda, a 20 year old girl who barely spoke Italian, a medieval style witch, someone who controlled men, was obsessed with sex and who was evil. I am sorry but all the words used to describe this girl were only used in order to mask the truth: that they had nothing tying her to the crime. No evidence. They used the medieval tactics of the inquisition to break her and Raffaele. Follain acknowledges part of this, but seems to believe that it is justified. I can only assume that he does not believe in the checks and balances that should protect the innocent, until proven guilty.

Follain describes the players on the prosecution side like superheroes, and shows his obvious admiration for them, while his description of the defense team is weak and even mean at times. Mignini is a strong character with intense interests and a super-hero pursuer of justice, moved by the naked body of Meredith, as are the police. The judge Massai is a paragon of perfection. The jury sounds very impressive too. His quote about the jury "Their verdict would be based exclusively on what they saw and heard in the courtroom...." ignores the fact that this jury was not sequestered and could read anything in the papers, watch any media they wanted and be influenced by anything. They were not even screened for bias before being chosen.

Follain's ridiculous judgements of Amanda and Raffaele are shown through his cherry picking of quotes and descriptions and continue throughout the book. He has no empathy for two young adults kept in solitary confinement (Raffaele over a year), refused legal council until it was too late, and serially abused. Amanda was denied a translator that would be outside of the influence of the police. ON and on goes the list of abuses towards them, which made them scared, fearful and unable to trust anyone. He documents some of these abuses but does not analyze how the treatment they received made them act strangely, and ultimately be tried and convicted. This is not a light thing. Their human rights were abused. This is very vital to the whole case.

He uses phrases that imply their guilt: i.e. re Amanda "As Guirga took her through the days leading up to the murder and her relations with Meredith, Amanda looked and sounded self-assured. Her tone was even chatty at times- jarring with her surroundings- as when she played down her clash with Meredith over cleanliness". What clash is Follain referring to? No "clash " was ever documented by anyone. The room-mates said there was not clash over cleaning, no arguments ever witnessed between Amanda and Meredith.

The press was particularly powerful in this case and used every tiny glance or expression caught on film (carefully chosen from thousands of photos taken) to characterize the accused to fit Mignini's description of them. Follain takes the British girlfriends of Meredith every word as gospel, even though they did not know Amanda or Raffaele, and emphasizes their vitriol and anger that came out of Meredith's murder as proof of their guilt. Of course the British girls had no contact with Rudy ever, so they would never be able to focus that anger on the person tied to the crime. The quotes that Follain includes from the British girls sound like those of the group of girls in the Salem witch trials. They are baseless, meaningless, and only lead to a peremptory idea of guilt based on fumes of hatred. Follain clearly shows how the police, in the few days following the murder have already decided Amanda and Raffaele's guilt, as well as told the British girls of this, so it is easy to understand why they followed this path. Follain's weight he gives to these girls words, the intense scrutiny of every move or motion that Amanda and Raffaele made during years of trials, as indications of guilt is just bizarre when he at the same time describes so many of the ridiculous vicissitudes of the trial.

Nor does Follain bother to point out the long list of evidence used in the trial and how it was full of lies, contradictions, and much of it later disproven. Follain says for instance when describing the film that Mignini and Comodi made to show how their version of the crime happened "She (Comodi) instructed the production company making the film to base it solely on the evidence, showing only what was in the case files" - he does not point out that there was nothing tying them to the crime scene, except for Rudy, so this would be impossible. The film is only a representation of the fanciful imagination of the prosecution. It does not rely on any facts. If it did, it would only show Rudy Guede.

Amanda and Raffaele are accused of dozens of things there is no evidence for but Follain never questions this: Amanda carrying a knife, the two faking a burglary, the two provoking a sexual attack, the two murdering, the two covering up a crime scene, the two stealing the money of Meredith (even though it was Rudy's DNA on the wallet).

Follain emphasizes how MIgnini felt- that he was so sad to ask for life sentences. Yet he is always waxing on about how sensitive Mignini is, while at the same time showing how he is a ruthless prosecutor who would stoop to anything to brand Amanda a sexual predatory rapist witch. Follain's use of these quotes is very strange. It is as if he admires Mignini for his ruthlessness, and has to also make him seem tender and compassionate at the same time.

Follain's descriptions of Amanda after the conviction are pathetic- p. 381. It is all orchestrated to make her look guilty. On page 387 he gives two whole paragraphs to an un-named investigator who says that Amanda has convinced herself she is not guilty- criticizes her for defending herself (as everyone does throughout the book, even attacking her family for their vigilant defense of Amanda) but never analyzes anything from the perspective that Amanda was NOT GUILTY. He attacks her for not apologizing to the Kerchers (this happens many times in the book) without acknowledging that she has no reason to apologize for a crime she has not committed.

On page 390 he makes it seem that Raffaele is an admirer of a murderer of children, with no evidence behind it and makes it sound like there is some sort of a connection between the two cases. Where is the evidence Follain?

Follian shows in his quotes how fearful the prosecution is that the forensics teams and DNA analysis will have a peer review. But Follain does not seem to question this or think that it is unreasonable.

Follain gives scant attention to the retrial, in line with his constant work throughout the book to emphasize the case by the prosecution, rather than that of the defense. On page 59 Follain's disdain of Amanda comes out as he describes her clothing. He mocks her "prisoners 'uniform' of jeans, sweatshirts and sneakers she had worn at the previous trial" trying to make it sound unusual. She was only wearing the clothes she had worn before being branded a murderer.

Follain never speaks about the fact that there was DNA of up to seven men on the bra clasp. On page 60 he does not mention why it took so long for the review of the DNA evidence by the defense: the fact that Stefanoni refused to hand it over for years, in spite of being ordered to do so by the judge. Follain uses the word "alleged" on page 405 when he says that "...Conti then listed more than fifty alleged failings..." referring to the DNA collection and examination by the prosecution team. Then he describes the failings in scant words, using the word "alleged" again to describe the detailed assault which was made on Stefanoni and the teams work.

Did Mignini, Comodi and the police and the entire prosecution team not "allege" everything they said about the entire crime? Why use this word now, unless you are trying to make it not seem important. Why on page 425 bring in Sophie's analysis? What did the British girls opinion have to do with anything? They were not witnesses, they did not know Amanda, they were only used by the police to plant their unsupportable theories. The coven of British girls had not attended the retrial. They had not witnessed the demolition of the "evidence" originally presented by the prosecution. They would always hold the image in their minds of Amanda and Raffaele being guilty.

Another thing that I think Follain misses out on is that the family of Meredith had in reality been tortured by the behavior of the prosecution for those four years (and still), as they had pursued the crime based on ridiculous and unfounded assumptions and mislead the family to believe that the crime was more complicated than it was. And of course that behavior had tortured Amanda and Raffaele and their families.

While reporting on the aquittal, Follain claims that outside the courtroom stood a "crowd some 4,000 strong", but it does not seem like there were more than a couple of hundred according to video footage. He does not mention that most people knew very little of the trial, and that there was an atmosphere more of vigilantes than people truly interested in the case.

Follain did not wait for the very thorough document released by Judge Hellmann which article by article refutes the prosecution's case. He also first thanks the prosecution. Those two things help to place Follain where he needs to be- although his work is interesting and full of a long account of the case, his work comes out slanted in the end, and not definitive. Because if it was definitive, it would have examined both sides with equal interest and asked and answered questions. The work does not do this, and this is why I fault it.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting July 7 2012
By Rorijka - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book was interesting and informative although a bit slanted. It shows Amanda as a very naive girl who is coming of age but gives her no breaks because of her youth and actions.
3.0 out of 5 stars Mediocre but Unbiased. Sept. 20 2014
By M P Crouch - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Death in Perugia is the title of the book I bought but Its the same content as this one. John Follains account is a little plodding but deserves notice for at least being unbiased, no Knox hysteria here. Graham Johnsons Darkness Descending is a better work, again unbiased but more skilfully written. I do hope the unfortunate and completely innocent Patrick Lumumba receives some recompense from Amanda knox for the lies she told about him, more should be heard about his story.
28 of 43 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars John Follain. Death in Perugia; the definitive account or not? Feb. 26 2012
By David Anderson - Published on Amazon.com
This is the book we have been promised by British tabloid journalist John Follain, since the end of the first trial and the conviction two years ago of Amanda Knox and her then boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito. Since then it was delayed seemingly ad perpetuam. But at last, after the final release from prison after four years of Amanda and Raffaele, I was able to buy and read a copy! It is a difficult book to review fairly, and I write as one who has closely read six other books on the subject (and given up on a seventh).

I find even the cover of his book, showing Amanda Knox in incredulous tears of joy in court at the declaration of her obvious innocence, juxtaposed with Hodder and Stoughton's final title, to be at best incongruous. I know that Follain still believes that Knox and Sollecito are guilty since he told me as much the day after their acquittal. "So you say, David, so you say", he said. My personal position, since I awoke to the injustice two years ago, is that this was always the most improbable amongst many unlikely hypotheses. As a European who lives in retirement in Italy, I then worked as hard as I could to help expose the injustice. Follain, on the other hand, was throughout so close to the Prosecution that he had to suffer the flushed embarrassment of a shoulder-squeezing benediction from Prosecutor Mignini as the latter left the Court after his final summing up in the Appeal! Earlier, the author had managed to be nominated for the Magazine Journalism Awards of 2008, for his interview with the Knox family for a Sunday Times article that - oopsy daisy - led to Mignini to sue Amanda's parents for calumny! While the Knoxes are still being prosecuted by Mignini, Follain and Rupert Murdoch's Sunday Times, have neatly dodged the fate they caused others less fortunate or less wealthy than they!!

The two young people were eventually declared innocent `because they did not commit the crime'. This is as innocent as you can get in Italy. So how does John Follain manage to write a book which suggests guilt while recording much of the sequence of events which led to their clear and unequivocal acquittal by a slow but finally as fair a review process as you get in medieval 21st century Italy? That has taxed me, and I still find it difficult to spot the tabloid maestro's slight of hand. So first let me address an easy question; is the book's title fair? Is it THE DEFINITIVE account?

The Prosecution case was constructed from the start around an extreme hypothesis. This was that two young lovers with no history of violence had engaged in a sex game and the gruesome killing of the girl's friend and flatmate with an Ivorian burglar they didn't know. They then covered their heinous crime by staging a break-in, and cunningly then `discovered' the crime and made it look as though they were trying to help the police. Since all of this was rejected as false on appeal, we have to accept it as nonsense. So what would the counter hypothesis be? Surely an investigative journalist for a tabloid of the calibre of the Sunday Times, should counter this by exploring in such a book as this the diametrically opposed explanation, even at the risk of also being sued for calumny? This is that a highly disturbed police and prosecutorial system, for reasons of its own, or even just out of sheer malice, chose to pin the crime on the nearest and softest available target(s), and then to reconstruct facts to support their theory. Follain must realise this wouldn't be the first or indeed the last case of criminal activities being conducted in the name of solving a crime?

Such a possible, indeed obvious, construction is not remotely touched upon in this book. What we have instead is a time line, but one which does not really tell us in words what the author believed or now believes. To be fair, parts of the book seem to be quite fairly written; these are like a calm patches between revelatory rapids, and both for me, as one seeking to understand the collective psychopathology of what really went on, are in their ways revealing. In the rapids he has enormously convenient but rocky blind spots, which he uses ruthlessly. To give you a feel for these, let me quote some sentences plucked verbatim from his book, concerning major elements for the prosecution. I find such insights very revealing, just because Follain was and still is so close to the cerebral functioning of the Prosecutors and the police. Thus we have......

Detective Superintendent Monica Napoleoni.....

'......For the first time in her career, Napoleoni found herself leading a major investigation when her boss Chiacciera, who had argued against arresting Patrick, Amanda, and Raffaele, dropped out of it - officially because he was too busy with other cases......
........She `liked to wear her silver shield-shaped badge as a pendant on a chain around her neck and occasionally tucked her semi-automatic ordnance pistol into a Louis Vuitton handbag'. ...
.........Delighted that Rudy had been caught but frustrated that she hadn't been the one who arrested him, Napoleoni and her colleagues turned their car round and headed back to Perugia.....
..........For her turn as a witness, the detective Napoleoni swapped the jeans and casual clothes she always wore on duty for her navy-blue police uniform........
........,(to lawyer for Lumumba, Carlo Pacelli) `Obviously she was treated firmly, because it wasn't as if we were at the cinema or the circus, even if someone thought we were' Napoleoni said, in a clear dig at Amanda's yoga exercises at the police station......
........(Kerchers in Court)- (they) watched from a back row where they sat next to the detective Napoleoni, who proudly wore her police badge on a chain around her neck......
........(Upon Amanda and Raffaele's conviction) - Meredith's father John embraced Mignini, then turned to Napoleoni; he hugged her, cupped her cheeks in his hands and then hugged her again.........-`Thank you for Meredith'; Stephanie said to her.'

Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini........

'......Autopsies didn't unsettle Mignini as they did several of his colleagues, and he didn't bother to wear a mask........
.......Mignini didn't hesitate. Some of his colleagues kept the police at arms length, simply giving them instructions and then waiting for the results, but Mignini wanted to be as closely involved as possible as if he was a detective himself.......
.......From the very time he'd looked into her bedroom his hunch had been that only a woman could have been so shaken by the sight of the victim as to seek to hide the body....... The DNA finding quickly became public.......
.........In a room at the Capanne prison, with Mignini as a silent observer, Rudy first described (to Judge Matteini) how he knew Amanda.....
.........Mignini had thought long and hard about the best way to tackle Amanda. Her greatest strength was her intelligence; her greatest weakness was her fragility......
.........'They were telling me I was guilty..After hours' -Amanda said and then broke off. She brought her hands up to her head and covered her ears - `that gesture again', Mignini thought to himself - and (she) started to cry. As Amanda wiped the tears away with her fingers, Mignini immediately made a point of requesting that the tears be noted for the record........
........Mignini was still seething as he strode out of prison. He had never carried out such a tense interrogation......
........In his spare time - he had none now - Mignini loved reading history books, especially tales of great battles ranging from those in ancient times to the Second World War, and in some ways he saw what awaited him in court as a battle......
.........Mignini rose and began his final request for the sentencing of the accused. Amanda was a narcissist, he said, who nurtured anger and was unusually aggressive. She manipulated people, indulging in theatricals and in transgressive behaviour. She had little empathy for others, suffered from `emotional anaesthesia', and had a tendency to dominate relationships in order to satisfy her immediate needs.......
.........(at the end of the first trial)..As soon as Mignini saw them he went up to kiss Arline and Stephanie on the cheeks, and to shake hands with Lyle..... '

Second Prosecutor, Manuela Comodi.......

'.......Comodi saw Amanda as the instigator. She was a charismatic figure, capable of influencing others, and she was the driving force who had drawn the group together, setting in motion the spiral of events......
..........The film was Comodi's idea..when she realised the film's potential, she decided to show the entire reconstruction. `For most people what you see on TV exists; what you don't see on TV doesn't exist'........
.........The junior prosecutor Comodi watched Amanda and Raffaele leave and suddenly thought to herself: `They're going to be convicted, I'm sure of it'. She then thought `How absurd, how terrible for two such young kids to have so many years in jail ahead of them.'....'

The Kercher's lawyer Francesco Maresca........

'......(Day 1 of the trial) Whatever the reason was, Amanda's smiles and laughs exasperated Maresca. `Let's see if either of them will be laughing when it's all over,' he remarked.........
........ On Valentine's day... (re the T-shirt with 'All you need is love' on it). Maresca could hardly contain his anger. `Amanda's gone too far. It's fine to declare yourself innocent all your life but there are limits. I can't stand this frivolous attitude. It's offensive to the court, and it's especially offensive to Meredith's family......
.........(after acquittal) Seeing her lawyer Maresca looking crestfallen, Arline asked him `Are you alright?' Maresca was amazed that she should be concerned about him at such a moment. `Yes, yes' he replied, `and you?'.....'

Meredith's friend Sophie Purton, (who Follain craftily quotes as a surrogate for his own unvoiced opinion) ........

.......One thing tormented Sophie, and she talked about it again with Meredith's other friends Amy and Robyn: was there anything they could have done that night to prevent Meredith being killed?.......
........(in court) From time to time, Sophie would close her eyes as she remembered aloud Amanda's coldness when she hugged her at the police station, or Amanda telling her Meredith had died.....
......... (for the acquittal) Sophie believed Amanda and Raffaele were guilty and was confident they would be convicted; she couldn't even imagine an acquittal........

These are just a small selection of Follain's fallacious textbites, from a book which reveals as much by what it doesn't say as by what it does. For me it provides great insight into the pathology behind a cunningly constructed and gross miscarriage of justice. Clearly two horses were backed, and 90% was written with two diametrically opposed possible endings, and these bits were not touched again after the appeal. This is by no means the definitive account of what really went on, but Follain does at times prove genuinely informative in those places where he lapses into fact as opposed to supposition and innuendo, and some of this is hard to find elsewhere. But the book mainly provides unique insight, which would only have been revealed to a journalist seen as `one of us', into the disturbed individual and collective psychopathology of all those who both prosecuted and persecuted in this case. Brains (ruthlessly aided by journalists such as Follain) that constructed, for dark reasons yet fully to emerge, a case against two perfectly normal youngsters, for what was in fact a horrendous but commonplace crime of break-in, sexual assault and murder carried out by one highly disturbed young man.

So please do not expect to find enlightenment from this book if you know nothing about the case. But if your understanding of this and of institutionalised evil is deeper than that, then at least borrow a copy.
18 of 28 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Mediocre Book Sept. 6 2012
By David T. Johnson - Published on Amazon.com
This is an interesting case but not an interesting book. The author is a mediocre writer who almost never turns an interesting or insightful phrase. There is no narrative momentum. There are no major themes developed. There is no main point and in this sense the book is pointless. The book is too long, with lots of irrelevant and unimportant information. There is very little information about the key contexts of the case: the Italian legal system, the media, the public, the politics, etc. In this sense it is a very narrow presentation--and not at all illuminating of major matters that matter. The ending is abrupt; there should at least be an epilogue or the like. Overall, the book does not rate in the A or B range of true crime and court writing (not even close), and it adds little to our understanding of this case. A much better book is Richard Lloyd Parry's "People Who Eat Darkness", about a murder and trial in Japan. Follain's book cannot hold a candle to that one.
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