Nonfiction Short Take: The Spider and the Fly – Claudia Rowe

This is an ambitious if not completely successful attempt to marry the exploration of a horrific and bizarre series of murders to an introspective examination of the author’s own obsession with the case. It rises above the usual true crime fare in its attempt to throw a light on our personal and cultural obsession with violent and aberrant behavior.

“What begins as an investigation into how a person can commit cold-blooded murder became Rowe’s albatross, ultimately leading her to examine her own life… [It is] when Rowe admits her bias, that her story begins to strike a chord.”
Publishers Weekly

“Rowe’s engaging prose means the pages practically turn themselves….”

Extraordinarily suspenseful and truly gut-wrenching, The Spider and the Fly is not just a superb true-crime story but an insightful investigation of the nature of evil, the fragility of good, and the crooked road that can turn human beings into monsters. A must-read.”
— Gillian Flynn

“I read through The Spider and the Fly in one rapt day. It’s unique unto itself, a mix of thoughtful memoir and true crime, as author and reporter Claudia Rowe becomes fascinated by the bizarre case of Kendall Francois, a little known serial killer from Poughkeepsie, NY. Living in Poughkeepsie herself, Claudia becomes enmeshed in the story herself when she reaches out to Kendall in prison, hoping to find some kernel of truth that would explain the hows and whys of such a horrific case. But instead of finding truths, she just finds more questions as her life becomes more and more consumed with the case, and with Kendall as a person. Gripping and incisive, The Spider and the Fly is literary true crime that is a must read for anyone who is fascinated by the psychology of crime, and by our fascination with it.”
— Whitney Spotts, Schuler Books & Music, Lansing, MI

“When Claudia Rowe first hears the story of Kendall Francois, she convinces herself that she is investigating the story merely as a journalist. Francois makes an interesting case, giving her just enough information to pull her further and further into his web. Soon Rowe is uncovering secrets, exploring shame, and writing about the darker side of human nature. However, she finds that it is often herself and her family that she is writing about and exploring, rather than the life of Kendall Francois. Her relationship with the killer forces her to look at her life in a different and more challenging way. What starts as a true crime tale of a New York serial killer who targeted prostitutes, turns into a rumination on broken families, and the broken people who emerge from them.”
— Becca Chavez, Tattered Cover, Denver, CO

The Spider and the Fly: A Reporter, a Serial Killer, and the Meaning of Murder (9780062416124) by Claudia Rowe. $26.99 hardcover. 1/24/17 on sale.

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