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A Family Cursed: The Kissell Dynasty, a Gilded Fortune, and Two Brutal Murders (St. Martin's True Crime Library) Mass Market Paperback – November 27, 2007


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Product Details

  • Series: St. Martin's True Crime Library
  • Mass Market Paperback: 260 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks (November 27, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031294201X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312942014
  • Product Dimensions: 4.1 x 0.8 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #927,859 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

TWO BROTHERS.  TWO MURDERS.
As boys, Robert and Andrew Kissel competed and excelled. As men, they made millions--Robert in the Asian markets and Andrew in real estate. But a darkness was chasing the brothers down. In November 2003, Robert was murdered in his posh Hong Kong apartment. Two-and-a-half years later, Andrew was found stabbed to death in his Greenwich Connecticut mansion.
 
A CASE THAT SHOCKED THE NATION.
Nancy Kissel was charged with murdering her husband Robert, after serving him a milkshake laced with sedatives and then beating him to death with a blunt object. But what happened to Andrew? His marriage was failing, and he faced prison for real estate fraud. Was his death a murder--or suicide? This riveting true story follows the different paths the Kissel brothers took toward the same fate and became
 
A FAMILY CURSED
 
 
* With 8 pages of compelling photographs *

About the Author

Kevin F. McMurray is a freelance writer/author whose articles have appeared in The New York Times, the Sunday Times of London, Outside, Men's Journal, Connecticut Magazine, and others. He is the author of Deep Descent and Dark Descent, two historical-adventure books about notorious shipwrecks. He is the author of  St. Martin's True Crime titles including Desire Turned Deadly and If You Really Loved Me. Kevin lives in Brewster, New York with his wife and two daughters.

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Customer Reviews

The book was well written and full of great storyline throughout.
lildeb3801
This book goes back and forth too much and is too hard to keep up with the characters and their comings and goings.
Mr James Grant
She liked the movie and so she wanted to read the book....she's still reading it.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Isabelle on November 28, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This fascinating book is a thorough analysis of two sensational crimes. The author maintains a jounalistic objectivity that allows you to draw your own conclusions. The photographs are a help in keeping the complex characters straight. It also provides an insight into the current business environment. One brother invests in distressed debt and the other in real estate.
Glimpses into the rarefied communities of NY's upper east side, Stratton, Vt, Greenwich, Ct and the expatriate community of Hong Kong provoke a delicious sense of schadenfreude.
You do not have to be a true crime aficionado to enjoy this book.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Sylviastel VINE VOICE on January 28, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The poor Kissell family who had it all but was cursed by it's own success. The poor brothers, Robert and Andrew Kissell, were murdered. Robert was murdered by his wife, Nancy, in Hong Kong. She was sentenced to life in prison there. Their three children would face a custody battle among in-laws. Andrew had lots of legal problems because he acted illegally and immorally in most business and finance transactions not like his brother Robert who graduated college, married, and rose up the financial ladder as being one of the hardest working financiers even in Hong Kong.

Regardless, Robert and Andrew did not deserve their fate. Robert's wife, Nancy, was lonely and was having an affair with a blue collar television repairman in Vermont where they had a second winter home. Sadly, Robert and Andrew were laid beside their mother Elaine Kissell at Riverside Cemetery in Saddle Brook, New Jersey.

Robert's children are being raised by the only surviving Kissell child, Jane Kissell Clayton, in Seattle, Washington with her two children. The Kissell patriarch is still alive and living in Florida. It's still a sad story but I think the writer's inexperience at writing true crime stories surfaces here and will get better in the future.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mabels Mom on December 15, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
While this story is interesting mainly because of the similar fates of two brothers, this book is not very well written. The author elaborates on very minor issues but fails to explain and reveal details on the relevant facts of these murders. I am an avid true crime reader but I found it difficult to finish this book, instead turning to the internet for more information on both of these cases. It is unfortunate because I think a good author could have written a great book about these murders.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Lawyeraau HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 9, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I recently read another book about this very same family and murders, "Never Enough" by Joel McGinnis. The story was so intriguing that I could not resist reading another author's perspective. I am delighted that I did so, as this is an excellent true crime book with a somewhat different focus from that of the McGinnis book, which was also excellent.

The book is about the Kissel murders, in which two wealthy, well-educated brothers are both murdered on different occasions and by different people. One was bludgeoned to death, and the other was stabbed to death. What are the chances of that?

The author skillfully outlines the events that led to the murders. In Robert's case, his wife's infidelity and her obsession with Michael Del Priore, her blue-collar lover, prompted her to do the unspeakable. Her guilt was never really in question, and the book highlights the most interesting aspects of her trial and its aftermath.

A couple of years later, Andrew, a well-heeled real estate investor, also followed in Robert's footsteps, having been stabbed to death just as he was getting ready to face the music for the real estate fraud that he had perpetrated. As to who killed Andrew, the police certainly found a suspect, but it is clear that the author believes that suspect to be innocent. The author's point of view is pretty persuasive, as the Greenwich police who were investigating the case are not known for their investigative prowess. You be the judge.

All in all, however, the story of the Kissel brothers is a fascinating one and a true American tragedy on many fronts. Theirs is, indeed, a family cursed. Those who enjoy the true crime genre will not be disappointed by this book, as it is well-written and well-researched. It is also a good companion to "Never Enough", as it is sufficiently different as to be fresh.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kenneth L. Blair on March 31, 2012
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I had read a couple of other books by this author that I didn't like. So I was hesitant to buy this one when I saw it was by him. Still, Joe McGinnis's "Never Enough" intrigued me enough to want to know more....so I gave in.
Huge mistake, and a waste of money. This book is HORRIBLE! I am extremely surprised at the number of high ratings it received....This book (and others I have read by him) just glosses over everything and skips around. You don't get any in depth info about the people and/or the case AT ALL. It's like he writes straight from a newspaper article. I could probably do that myself!
I don't care how interesting a book sounds, if I see this author's name on the cover I will not buy it any longer.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dan Bogaty on January 11, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Kevin F. McMurray's A FAMILY CURSED is a summary of the murders of brothers Robert and Andrew Kissel, the grown sons of a wealthy manufacturer. Robert was drugged and then bludgeoned to death by his wife Nancy in Hong Kong in 2003. Andrew was bound and stabbed to death by persons unknown, at the time the book was written, in his home in Connecticut in 2006.
The two brothers had taken very different paths. Robert was a rich and successful employee of various top brokerage houses specializing in "distressed debt" and at the time of his murder was working at a very high level job in Hong Kong for Merrill Lynch. He is reported (by McMurray, ad nauseum, rather than presenting much real insight into his persona) to have been a nice, friendly, and honest guy. But life was not perfect, as his wife Nancy (who, though blonde, bears a striking resemblance to Sarah Silverman) was carrying on a long-distance - and occasionally not so long distance - affair with a man in Vermont who lived near and had worked at the Kissel's vacation home. Murderous hi-jinks ensued.
Andrew, on the other hand, was a con man - but a relatively high level con man - a thief with a pen who dealt in double books and forged real estate documents. His life was a swirl of drug fueled illegalities and apparent chaos.
But both brothers ended up neighbors in the same cemetery.

A FAMILY CURSED is mediocre true crime. The first section - about Robert and Nancy Kissel - is little more than salacious gossip. While there is a reasonable amount of background on Robert, there is none whatever on Nancy, who is potentially the most interesting player in the account, and the book suffers greatly for that lack.

The third section is about Andrew and is to my mind the most successful part of the book.
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