Like most of the civilized world, I was captivated by the news that 20-year-old, Seattle student, Amanda Knox, spending a study year abroad in Perugia, Italy had been accused as a participant in the violent sex murder of her roommate, British student, Meredith Kercher. Of course, my interest may have been high because Amanda Knox had the adorable face of the girl-next-door and seemed to many the most unlikely of suspects.
When I decided to read up on the real events of this crime I found several books on the subject. By all accounts, Nina Burleigh’s book is the best of the bunch. She offers a well-researched, factual presentation of the many subtle nuances of Italian life, culture and especially their legal system which resulted in this miscarriage of justice.
There was little doubt in my mind of Amanda Knox’s innocence prior to reading the book and no doubt whatsoever upon completion of the book. Amanda Knox was a lot of things, many of them not particularly enviable traits. She was naive, a bit uncaring, jealous and perhaps not your first choice in a roommate. However, she was not a killer and the colossal combination of factors that went into her being charged, put on trial and convicted and sentenced along with her lover, Raffaele Sollecito, to 26 years in prison has to be read to be understood.
Fortunately, the sentence was overturned on appeal and Amanda is now back with her parents in Seattle.There are lots of details in this book that could be construed as TMI but all of it is necessary to portray an accurate account of how this miscarriage of justice could have happened. In the end, I am very glad I read The Fatal Gift of Beauty and appreciative of Nina Burleigh’s pain-staking work on revealing the truth. I gave this true-crime novel four **** stars.