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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a good true crime book!
I do not understand the view point that Brian McDonald is trying to exploit this tragedy by writing a true crime book on what happened. Hello, that would mean that all of the great true crime stories (Helter Skelter, etc) would be doing the same. This is a well written account of the horror that 2 sociopaths visited on the Petit family. It isn't the greatest crime...
Published on November 24, 2010 by J. M. Flippin

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40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A cautionary tale, poorly told
I read a lot of true crimes, partly because I'm interested in how these crimes come to pass and how they could possibly be prevented in the future. I have also worked in some criminal justice related positions and gaining a greater understanding of everybody on both sides involved in a crime is helpful. Therefore, a well-written true-crime book is both interesting and...
Published on April 10, 2010 by Privacy, Please


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40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A cautionary tale, poorly told, April 10, 2010
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This review is from: In the Middle of the Night: The Shocking True Story of a Family Killed in Cold Blood (St. Martin's True Crime Library) (Mass Market Paperback)
I read a lot of true crimes, partly because I'm interested in how these crimes come to pass and how they could possibly be prevented in the future. I have also worked in some criminal justice related positions and gaining a greater understanding of everybody on both sides involved in a crime is helpful. Therefore, a well-written true-crime book is both interesting and helpful to me. Unfortunately, this book is not that.

Like many people who follow true crime, I was already aware of the details of the Petit murders from national news media such as "People" magazine. I was suspicious of this book having been released before the killers even went to trial which normally does not bode well for the quality of the book. I bought a used copy (as I often do) so that if it turned out to be not very good, I would not be out much money. Good call on my part and I'm going to be kind of wary of the next true crime book that St. Martin's decides to go rushing out.

The actual crime takes up only a few pages of this book, which is OK since if you read the newspaper or magazines you already know all that. Most of this book is the Joshua Komisarjevsky story. As a child, he was adopted into a wealthy and prominent Russian family, but by his early teens appears to have been becoming your standard behavioral problem/ sexual deviant/ arsonist/ budding psycho. The book suggests that maybe this was caused by his not getting the proper psychiatric treatment by parents who believed prayer and sending your kid off to church camp was the answer (side note: teenage Joshua has relations with so many ministers' daughters and other church camp girls that I'd be afraid to send my kid to one of those places knowing they might meet such a person) or by alleged sexual abuse as a child by a foster brother. While these might well be contributing factors, along with possibly genetic factors, to creating the psychopath that Joshua obviously grew up to be, it's simply not that compelling of a story. As someone else observed, we don't get to know the Petits beyond what's already been published and we also don't get that much info about Joshua's partner-in-crime, Steven Hayes.

I did wonder why Joshua and Hayes, fresh out of prison, would be allowed to be hanging around together after their release from the halfway house. Seemed like a bad idea to me as obviously these two committed more horror together than one would have been able to pull off alone. I also thought it was odd that prior to this crime, wealthy Cheshire folks are portrayed as leaving their doors unlocked and seemingly unafraid of home invasions when they not only have a penitentiary very close by, but also I'm sure that Joshua was not the only "rich kid gone way wrong" in their midst. But the book doesn't really explore these topics, and given that the book looks like a rush job I'm not sure how believable its portrait ofthe community is.

My suggestion is to skip reading this and wait until somebody actually does a more thoughtful book about this subject, if that day ever comes (hopefully after the trial or other resolution). Also, if anyone is concerned that this book would make people sympathize with Joshua Komisarjevsky, that seems unlikely. Much is made out of his fatherly feelings for his baby daughter, but by the time I was 1/3 through I was just glad the guy was out of the picture as he's not someone who should be near any young girls and the poor little kid he fathered is likely to have a better chance at life without him around.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Actually reviewing the BOOK, April 9, 2010
This review is from: In the Middle of the Night: The Shocking True Story of a Family Killed in Cold Blood (St. Martin's True Crime Library) (Mass Market Paperback)
Controversy aside, this isn't a great book if you're interested in the crime itself. I don't think there's anything wrong with people reading true crime; I have always enjoyed criminal profiling and accounts of crimes and I feel no shame or immorality as a result.I understand the outcry, especially considering that the trial hasn't reached its end, but the problem lies not in whether this book is "moral"; I don't dispute it's honesty, and its integrity is in some ways irrelevant. It doesn't go too far.
The fact is: this is not an account of the crime, its ramifications or a study of how a criminal and a crime are born. It is essentially a biography of Joshua-- without applied analysis. We've all read this kind of thing before-- and here Joshua's history takes too much precedence.
After the reviews, I decided to purchase this item used-- and decided to make a small donation to the Petit's nonprofit for triple the amount I paid.
If you're anxious to read about this crime, read pages 205-220. If you want to read about the somewhat typical, escalating criminal life of Joshua, by all means purchase the book. It is well-written but dull.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Don't waste your money on this book!!, October 2, 2009
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This review is from: In the Middle of the Night: The Shocking True Story of a Family Killed in Cold Blood (St. Martin's True Crime Library) (Mass Market Paperback)
I purchased this book through Amazon. I am a CT resident, and I have been following this tragic story from day one. I was very curious to see what was in this book. People.......please.......do not waste your time and money. 95% of this book talks about the scumbag murderers and their childhoods, their families, their time together in some halfway house. Who the hell cares, or wants to know about that?? The other 5% covers what took place at the beginning of the crime and at the last hour of the crime. Most of what I read in this book (about the crime) was reported in the news. There were a few things mentioned that I did not hear about in the news. A few things that stick out in my mind about this story: 1. It was said that Hayley Petit was so close to dialing 911 and the scumbags got to her and took the cell phone out of her hands. If only she could have gotten through before they came into her room. 2. The back cover indicates "with 8 pages of startling photos". They aren't startling. They are photos that were in magazines and in news papers. 3. It was said that scumbag Steven Hayes hardley ever leaves his prison cell - one reason is he fears for his personal safety. OH, he was all big and bad in this home invasion and now he is in a tiny cell with his tail between his legs, afraid that he might be harmed by the other prisoners???? LOL!!!!!! GOOD!!!!!!!!!! I hope the other prisoners do get to him and FAST!! There is no reason why either one of these animals should still be alive. I believe in an eye for an eye! How these two animals could have done such a thing is utterly mind-boggling.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a good true crime book!, November 24, 2010
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J. M. Flippin (San Juan Capistrano, CA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: In the Middle of the Night: The Shocking True Story of a Family Killed in Cold Blood (St. Martin's True Crime Library) (Mass Market Paperback)
I do not understand the view point that Brian McDonald is trying to exploit this tragedy by writing a true crime book on what happened. Hello, that would mean that all of the great true crime stories (Helter Skelter, etc) would be doing the same. This is a well written account of the horror that 2 sociopaths visited on the Petit family. It isn't the greatest crime account ever written but it is still a compelling, chilling read for people who are looking for a true crime story.
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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Everyone needs to calm down,it is what it is., January 13, 2010
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This review is from: In the Middle of the Night: The Shocking True Story of a Family Killed in Cold Blood (St. Martin's True Crime Library) (Mass Market Paperback)
This is not one of my favorite reads, I did not sit down in one day per my usual routine when getting a book of this nature.It was not an easy read, and as I do see the outrage about it, that could be said about any true crime book.This family is no more or less important than any other family that has this horrific crime committed on them.It definely makes me take home safety more seriously.I do wonder about the timing of the writing of the book but the author was not being easy on himself in my opinion. I feel from reading it he may have some restless nights ahead of him.At no point do I feel that he tries to represent himself, the book, or the crime, in any kind of explotive terms.Hope this helps.
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23 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars don't know unless you read, January 24, 2010
By 
J.R. Yannelli "Be nice!" (Lexington, Kentucky United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: In the Middle of the Night: The Shocking True Story of a Family Killed in Cold Blood (St. Martin's True Crime Library) (Mass Market Paperback)
I saw recently on MSNBC the coverage of this case and an intereview with the Author, Brian McDonald which prompted me to pick up the book. As I usually do, I checked reviews online at Amazon and was made to feel cheap and guilty after returning from the bookstore. As I read the book I noted that the details of the crime were essentially what has been reported already in the New York Times and the media outlets. One just has to think for one second about what information the Author had in front of him and what would be contained in the book. What you have here, in the style of "In Cold Blood" is a chilling account of two men, how their lives could not be more different and how they came together in a 24 hr period to commit this unspeakable act. You shiver at the thought of the crime and pull away at the description of the initial encounter with Dr. Petit while asleep on the porch. You are pulled into this book and left shaking your head at the system which allowed two men to be in the street who had any capacity for such a crime. The stark contrast between the way you think Joshua should be leading his life based on his mental capacity and his higher level of intelligience shocks you to realize he was likely one of the ringleaders of this crime. One is not wrong in thinking that the crime went not the way it was originally planned but was likely made complicated by the actions of Hayes on that morning. His inexperience and lower mental capacity and weakness of the flesh allowed descisons to be made that probably would not have occurred. This family would likely now be alive had Hayes simply done what he was ordered to do and no more. I am not making excuses, what is done is done, Dr. Peiti must live with this and my entire heart and psyche goes out to this man. I am sorry sir to have to now be aware of something so horrible to have happened to you and your wonderful family. But, again, the true crime here and the guilt lies 'in the two defendants who will see their days in court over the next year, the Cheshire police Department who did not enter the house before the blaze was set, and the Conn. parole system who flat out dropped the ball on this one. Do not chastise Brian McDonald for this book. It is a very good and informative book that serves its purpose. Belive me, Vanity Fair and the like will have the true gruesome details published as soon as the court records become public. We have only heard 1% of the details of this crime. Mr. McDonald did not wirte this book to give us gory details, but someone else will. Then, the naysayers will pick it up and read it by the light of a candle and say its ok, it is public record. How cheap is that. If you want to learn about what makes some people tick, read this book, it is worth it. Finally, my prayers are with the whole Petit family for ever having to go through such a heinous experience. You all did not deserve this attention. The bottom line is, Mrs. Petit, Hayley and Michaela should be alive today had the system performed the way it is designed to perform.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Speculation, February 2, 2010
This review is from: In the Middle of the Night: The Shocking True Story of a Family Killed in Cold Blood (St. Martin's True Crime Library) (Mass Market Paperback)
This book is poorly and quickly written to get a book out about this tragedy. They have not even gone to trial yet. We don't even know what kind of prison sentences the killers got.
Most of the book is written about one of the killers Joshua and his life leading up to the murders. Little is written about the Petit family. I would rather hear more about their life and get to know more about them.
What exacttly happened that night is speculated in the book. The mother amd the two daughters are not here to tell what exactly happened. We know Mr. Petit was knocked out earlier downstairs while his wife and daughters were sleeping upstairs. What you have previously heard in the news is what you get. There is no new information other than what has already been in the press. I know nothing more about the case after reading the book. Also, there are no pictures in the book of the mother and her daughters either.
This is a horrible tragedy! The two men who did this are convicts and should of never gotten out of prison on early releases. If they had stayed in prison where they belong this crime would never of happened!
Don't waste your time reading this book. It was a big disappointment!
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18 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Look Into the Mind of a Sociopathic Killer, February 4, 2010
This review is from: In the Middle of the Night: The Shocking True Story of a Family Killed in Cold Blood (St. Martin's True Crime Library) (Mass Market Paperback)
Several times I had passed over Brian McDonald's latest true crime book for one published after the case has went to trial. It's a pet peeve of mine to read a book while the case is pending.

But with the controversy surrounding the publication of this book, curiosity got the best of me and I had to see if all the hoopla was deserved.

In the Middle of the Night: The Shocking True Story of a Family Killed in Cold Blood (St. Martin's True Crime Library) is based on the 2007 murders of the Petit family in Chesire, Connecticut: mom Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two daughters, Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11. Father and husband Dr. William Petit was brutally beaten, but survived.

This beloved family lived in suburbia heaven, until their home and lives became targets of two ex-con serial burglars: Joshua Komisarjevsky and Steven Hayes. (Allegedly. As the men have not yet been convicted.)

Written in a style reminiscent of Truman Capote's In Cold Blood, McDonald doesn't focus on the actual events of July 23, 2007, as much as he does the biographies of Komisarjvsky and Hayes; with an intent focus on Komisarjvsky, as he was one member of this party willing to talk to the author.

If you're looking for the cold, cruel facts of a vicious crime, then you're barking up the wrong tree. Yet if you want a startling look into the mind of the accused who is a Freudian dream and a justice system that failed society many times over, then you'll definitely want to read In the Middle of the Night: The Shocking True Story of a Family Killed in Cold Blood (St. Martin's True Crime Library).

Besides being published before trial, I was disappointed in the lack of a photo of the victims, with the exception of Dr. Petit. I had to search for photos online.

Fortunately, those are my only complaints and I would very much recommend this book.

(While I respect the views of those opposed to this book, especially Dr. Petit, it should be remembered that if you boycott one media source that "makes money off the misfortune of others," you must boycott them all: newspapers, true crime television, etc. as they all make money from such tragic events.)
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Selling out, April 19, 2010
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This review is from: In the Middle of the Night: The Shocking True Story of a Family Killed in Cold Blood (St. Martin's True Crime Library) (Mass Market Paperback)
I purchased this book on Amazon. I could not get past the horrors of these murders.

This book was written by an author who had access to Joshua Komisarjevky and I think attempts to represent him in a sympathetic light. Joshua is a "victim" like the Petits. I don't think so.

I think because he had access to Komisarjevsky he lost his ability to be objective. In one passage, when he is interviewing him at prison he says he looks much better than he did in the widely publicized picture. "K" says, it was not a good day for me. It was not a good day for the Petit family either.

If you are interested in reading about the facts of these murders, do not read this book. you can read a more objective account on the Hartford Courant website.

If you feel any sympathy for these murderers read this book.
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16 of 22 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Such shame, October 5, 2009
By 
J. Hallin (Plainville, CT) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: In the Middle of the Night: The Shocking True Story of a Family Killed in Cold Blood (St. Martin's True Crime Library) (Mass Market Paperback)
Out of respect for the family, friends, and communities that have been affected by this horrific crime. I am asking you to not make a purchase of this book. You already know the sad and painful outcome that this family has to deal with on a daily basis.
Instead I am asking you to please use that money and make a donation to the Petit Family Foundation....it is the only RIGHT THING TO DO in this situation.
I hope that Brian McDonald, and the Publishing company,and ANY Facility including AMAZON that shelfs this book....do the right thing also....Donate the proceeds to PFF.
It is very sad for me to wonder what Dr. Petit is feeling, having to live this over and over again. This book was in very poor taste, poor timing, and in very poor judgement.
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In the Middle of the Night: The Shocking True Story of a Family Killed in Cold Blood (St. Martin's True Crime Library)
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