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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
Junger brings a sense of verisimilitude to the telling of this tragic tale that will have you absolutely riveted from the first page. Read morePublished 8 days ago by Justin Time
It captivates the readers attention and is very well written.Published 3 months ago by Krishnamoorthi Muthuvairu
My wife grew up in Belmont at the same time I worked there during this period, so that gives a little extra boost. Junger is an author we have enjoyed previously. Excellent book.Published 8 months ago by Karen Wynne
This book was pretty interesting because I remember when this was going on. I was a child back then so it brought back a lot of fears that I had as a child.Published 11 months ago by Cynthia Leigh
Wow! This is a well-written book filled with interesting details and speculation of one of the most famous criminals of our time. Read morePublished 13 months ago by writer614
Great read, author is very honest. A true page turner. I had to read it for a class and for the first time I couldn't put the book down.Published 14 months ago by kailee thomas
I would give this book five stars except for two things: it re-covers too much material too frequently, and Junger never mentions whether or not the murders stopped after DeSalvo's... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Up The Stairs
Sebastian Junger's A Death in Belmont traces the crimes of one of the most elusive modern serial killers, the Boston Strangler. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Jeff Jellets
Author Sebastian Junger re-examines the case of the Boston Strangler, adding a personal touch with his own relationship to the purported killer. Read morePublished 17 months ago by katherine tomlinson