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The Spider and the Fly: A Reporter, a Serial Killer, and the Meaning of Murder
Writers are drawn to a crime scene like flies to rotting flesh, and so when a serial killer was caught in her town of Poughkeepsie, N. Kendall Francois was a notorious local john repeatedly reported for abusing women throughout the late '90s. But it wasn't until police took out a warrant to raid his family's home that they found a hoarder's den filled with garbage, rotting food, mold and human bodies. Maggots fell from the attic where Francois had stashed his victims in plastic bags and a kiddie pool. A Seattle Times reporter and Pulitzer Prize nominee, Rowe ravenously hunts down vignettes of derangement and despair.
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About This Item
In reporter Claudia Rowe was living in Poughkeepsie, New York, working as a stringer for the New York Times, when she started covering a series of murders committed by a local man named Kendall Francois. Rowe, at the time struggling with her own demons, wrote a letter to Francois — the first contact in what would become a yearslong quest to find out what could make a man commit the kinds of violent murders to which he confessed, and for which he was eventually convicted. Rowe writes of the disturbing relationship she developed with Francois, and how her years delving into his life helped her resolve her own issues and move on. The door to the Pleasant Valley post office pulled against me as if trying to test my resolve. To swing it wide and begin my dutiful march down the white linoleum floor toward mailbox number required surprising strength. But I did it, as I had all autumn.
The Spider and the Fly by Claudia Rowe is a spellbinding combination of memoir and psychological suspense where a female journalist chronicles her unusual connection with a convicted serial killer and her search to understand the darkness inside us. The story begins as any true crime story might—a reporter writes a letter to a criminal in prison. This really is a spider building a web and a fly who gets caught with no chance for escape. Claudia Rowe is a stringer for the New York Times when this story begins. When Rowe begins to exchange letters with Kendall, she has no idea how much of an impact it would ultimately have on her life. The Spider and the Fly is more memoir than it is the typical true crime book.
For two years, he piled their bodies in the attic of a house he shared with his mother and his two younger siblings. At the time of these murders, current Seattle Times education reporter, Claudia Rowe, was working in Poughkeepsie as a stringer for the New York Times. She wanted the story, but she also wanted to know the culprit; she wanted to get inside his head. Along the way, she investigates her motives for investigating him. Her central question: Why would she, a well-off white woman, develop an addiction to the mind of an obese black man who brutalized women, the majority of whom sort of resembled her? The reader's response: You don't have to do this, you don't have to do this, who cares about why this guy did it, oh my god, why are you doing this?