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Murder in Italy: The Shocking Slaying of a British Student, the Accused American Girl, and an International Scandal Mass Market Paperback – April 27, 2010

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Editorial Reviews


MURDER IN ITALY by Candace Dempsey was the first book published on the Meredith Kercher murder and it remains one of the very best, beautifully researched, well-written, and clearly organized. Dempsey was the first journalist in the United States to raise questions about the Amanda Knox case, and the first to look deeply into the facts and begin to uncover the shocking truth. If you want to know the real story of this enormous travesty of justice that sent an innocent American girl to an Italian prison for four years, you must read this book, reprinted after Knox's acquittal with a new ending. --Douglas Preston, co-author of The Monster of Florence.

*Winner Best True Crime Book 2010 
Editor's Choice and Reader's Choice awards.

*Library Journal Bestseller.

Murder in Italy, a real-life mystery as compelling and terrifying as any work of fiction. --P. Segal, Femme Noir

I think Candace Dempsey has written the definitive book about the arrest and trial of Amanda Knox. I found it to be fair and quite objective. It reads like a novel, yet is dense with details most people don't know. --Frank Shier, KIRO 97.3 Radio
Candace Dempsey's accuracy and fairness while examining the evidence made her one of the most knowledgeable American journalists on the case. --Ashleen Aguilar, The Daily of the University of Washington

Reporter Candace Dempsey has grabbed hold of the true-crime story of a lifetime --Jim Kershner, The Spokesman-Review

Shocking headlines exploded to tabloid proportions claimed Amanda Knox and boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito murdered Kercher in an evil sex game. Was this young woman capable of murder? Read Murder In Italy and find out. --Dana Neuts for Virtually Yourz

Murder In Italy is a fascinating read... a thorough account and timeline of the events relating to Meredith's murder, immensely helpful in understanding the case against Amanda, Raffaele and Rudy Guede. -- Seattlest

From the Author

Candace Dempsey talks candidly about Murder in Italy, the true story of Amanda Knox, the U.S. college student convicted of killing Meredith Kercher her college roommate. Interview by Amy Mikel of Seattlest

I'm a Italian-American writer whose life got sideswiped by the Amanda Knox case. Before I got pulled in, I'd been a magazine editor, a newspaper editor and a Web producer at MSN. I'd written for many newspapers and magazines, including
 The Chicago Tribune, and many of my travel stories had been anthologized. I fully intended to do a travel book called "From Rome to Africa," but once I began covering Amanda's case, I couldn't write about anything else. 

Everything changed in November 2007. I'd just returned from the Rome to Tunisia adventure when I heard that British student Meredith Kercher had been murdered in Perugia, Seattle's sister city. Amanda Knox, the main suspect, was from Seattle, my hometown. She was an honor student at the University of Washington.

All of that struck me as horribly ironic and sad. Because who hasn't dreamed of Italy? Who wouldn't want to study there? I'd dreamed of doing that myself, but I'm the middle child of seven children. I worked my way through college. I could barely afford my tuition, let alone anything extra.

Why has the Amanda Knox case mesmerized the world?
It's a once-in-a century crime story. Sex, drugs, lies, videotape, money, beautiful young people. Characters that John Grisham couldn't invent. Trial by media in Italy, the U.S. and the U.K. Paparazzi. British tabloids. Facebook, MySpace, leaked diaries, wiretaps, a prosecutor under indictment.

It reads like a novel, but it's all true: Two lovely college students from two different nations dream of studying in a hilltop town and become roommates. Right after Halloween night, one roommate is stabbed to death; the other is locked up for killing her. Why? How? What does it mean? Who's telling the truth?

The Amanda Knox case is a train wreck. I couldn't look away. I still can't.

When did you start covering the Amanda Knox case?
Right away. I wrote about Meredith's horrific murder on my blog, hosted by, and got a tremendous reaction from all over the world. But nobody wanted to talk about the victim. They only wanted to shout about this horrible Amanda Knox, aka "Angel Face," "Foxy Knoxy," "Luciferina." The girl the Italians called "a huntress of men, insatiable in bed." I didn't know anything about Amanda Knox. Didn't know anybody who knew her. But my readers wanted her lynched. They said it was too bad that Italy didn't have the electric chair.

That made me curious. Who killed Meredith Kercher? How did Amanda Knox become the prime suspect? Could she possibly be innocent?

In those days Amanda Knox's guilt was simply assumed, everywhere in the world. She was Meredith's killer. Case closed. I wondered how we could be so sure. She was an excellent student and had no motive. No criminal record. She'd known Raffaele Sollecito, her boyfriend and supposed co-conspirator, only six days. Raffaele had never met Rudy Guede, their alleged co-conspirator.

So I started checking the facts. I wrote "Trial by Trollerazzi," and "What If She's Innocent?" I reaped the whirlwind.I got attacked all over the blogosphere. Murder in Italy grew out of all that.  

Can you give me a rough timeline of how Murder in Italy came together?
In February 2008, I pitched Murder in Italy at the Whidbey Island Writers' Conference. By then I had many sources in Italy and the U.S. and was working on the Amanda Knox case 24/7. At Whidbey I met thriller writer William Dietrich, a Pulitzer-prize winning investigative reporter, and he gave me tips on how to research a crime tale. He referred me to his agent, Andrew Stuart, who sold Murder In Italy to Penguin/Berkley Books.
Also at Whidbey I met Erik Larson, the author of The Devil in the White City and he advised me to write Murder in Italy in chronological order, focusing on Meredith Kercher and Amanda Knox. That's what I did.
Instead of just reproducing the courtroom drama, I used the testimony to weave a mystery story, a la Ann Rule of Seattle, my favorite crime writer. The book unfolds like a movie, starting with a happy Italian Halloween. I divided it into three acts, ending with Amanda and Raffaele's conviction.
Were you ever concerned that you wouldn't be able to get your hands on enough of the source material to research and write a book?
Never. Perugia is like a true crime store. Italians leak everything from autopsy photos to letters, diaries, videos, and wiretaps. All of those I used in the book, along with the courtroom testimony. I went to Perugia often, at great personal expense, and interviewed the key players, including prosecutor Giuliano Mignini. In addition, the suspects all kept Facebooks, MySpace pages. I interviewed Amanda's family and friends, in Seattle and Perugia. I was in court when Meredith's friends testified; I used their actual words in the book, never needing to invent or exaggerate anything. As one tabloid reporter said in regards to the amount of information out there, "It was a feast."
In fact, my only problem was trimming the book down. My fabulous editor, Shannon Jamieson Vasquez, said I had enough for eight books. She's Italian-American, had studied in Perugia, is fluent in Italian, and had edited many mystery books. She helped me decide what to leave in, what to take out. 
What has the overall reaction been to your book?
I love it when people tell me that Murder in Italy reads like a novel. That means I've told a good tale, as well as done the hard reporting. I also like it when people come to my readings, have opposite ideas about Amanda's guilt, and yet can have civil conversations. That never happens on the Internet, where everything is polarized and vicious. I've had husbands and wives disagree completely about the case and yet tell me that they enjoyed talking to each other about my book. I also love to hear from readers and find out what they think.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley; 1st edition (April 27, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 042523083X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425230831
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (144 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #427,200 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Candace Dempsey is an award-winning Italian-American journalist, travel writer and author of MURDER IN ITALY, the true story of Amanda Knox, the American college student wrongly convicted of killing her British roommate. Best True Crime Book Editor's and Reader's Choice awards, Library Journal Bestseller, Top Ten Amazon True Crime.

Drawing upon candid interviews with the key players, case files, police reports, court documents, eyewitness accounts, crime scene videos, prison diaries, and DNA evidence, Candace's well-received Amanda Knox book reveals the real story behind the media frenzy surrounding this sensational international murder case.

Based in Seattle, Candace has written for The New York Times, Slate, MSN, the Chicago Tribune, the Boston Phoenix, Art & Antiques, and many other outlets. Her staff positions include: magazine editor, newspaper editor, staff writer, and a producer, editor and writer for MSN. Her travel tales have been published in numerous Travelers' Tales and Seal Press anthologies. She holds a master's degree in journalism from the University of Oregon, where she was a Graduate Teaching Fellow. She teaches online at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

90 of 106 people found the following review helpful By Jake on March 15, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback
If you read only one book on the Meredith Kercher Murder make it this one. The case itself is not the complex, nuanced conundrum requiring specialized investigative skills that some would have you believe.. On the contrary, the case is as straight forward as it seems. Meredith returned home unexpectedly and walked in on Rudy Guede, a young ner-do-well, in the act of committing a burglary. Things spun out of control and Meredith was killed. Stabbed and sexually molested by Rudy Guede.

Candace Dempsey does an excellent job of walking the reader through the events leading up to the murder, the event itself and the investigation. She's engaging yet sticks to the facts as they're known and avoids the sort of lurid voyeuristic fantasizing that's plagued the story as presented by the tabloids since day one.

This is not a scary, tense who-dunnit.. It's obvious to any rational person 'who-dunnit'. It's a sad story of a pretty, intelligent British student murdered senselessly.. a clash of cultures.. and an intelligent but naive young Seattle neo-hippy who tried to be helpful to the police but only managed to get herself and her boyfriend sucked through the looking glass of the Perugian justice system.

Read this book and understand why so many people; from politicians, to journalists.. judges, lawyers, scientists, engineers, doctors, career law enforcement officers, academics and many more have put their good names and reputations on the line to stand up and proclaim Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito's innocence.
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50 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Q. Kelly on August 28, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Before I sat to read the book "Murder in Italy" by Candace Dempsey, I had vague knowledge, at best, of the Amanda Knox case. About a year ago, I'd watched an hour-long special on the case on TV-one of these news magazine shows. I don't even remember which show. The special, aired after Knox, her boyfriend and another man were found guilty of murdering her roommate, said that Knox claimed she was treated unfairly and that her trial was a sham. I did not give her claims much thought, attributing them to things all guilty people say. She probably WAS guilty, I thought. After all, I reasoned, a court would not have found her guilty.


Yesterday, I started "Murder in Italy" and had a hard time putting it down. I'm ashamed for the quick conclusion I leaped to a year ago. Not only is it possible Amanda is innocent, it's quite very likely positively wholeheartedly true that she IS innocent. First up, the Italian justice system is very different from the American system. Jurors are allowed to talk to one another, watch coverage about the case on TV and read media and news reports. Jurors are allowed to sleep in court. There does not seem to be a presumption of "presumed innocent until proven guilty."

Amanda's trial was a dazzling array of character assassination, wild guesses and scandal. The prosecution had NOTHING tying her to the crime. No blood evidence, no DNA, no nothing. The book is well worth reading to see how events spiraled out of control.

Knox's case is under appeal right now, and I hope justice is eventually served.

The police and prosecutors made so many missteps I don't know where to start. But here's a huge one.
Read more ›
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By S. Maroney on February 14, 2012
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Amanda Knox murder trial in Perugia, Italy instantly captured the fancy of the media and its millions of followers. Thus spawned a total of eight books with more to come. Since an Italian court reversed her conviction in October (2011), interest in the case has again piqued. Now this: to add fuel to an already heated scenario, Italian prosecutors will attempt to reinstate the original murder conviction (as of February 2012).

In that field of eight contenders, Candace Dempsey's "A Murder in Italy" has been the hands-down front runner from Day One--in every sense, a winner. Dempsey covered the trial in Perugia in person. She also was present in court when the conviction was overturned. I nominate her to be the author of the sequel to her meticulously researched, beautifully written "A Murder in Italy."

Who better to present the post-trial continuation of a typically Italian (read: convoluted) scenario in an unbiased, impeccably researched, clearly stated manner than Candace Dempsey? I hope that Penguin, her publisher will take my vote into consideration when bidding for the rights to a frighteningly captivating story.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Justo R. Corpuz Jr. on May 11, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I read this on my Kindle and I could not put it down. It's a must read for people who travel to Europe and especially to countries whose primary language is not English. First and foremost, if you get arrested in a country not your own, lawyer up and shut up. That poor girl could have saved herself a lot of trouble had she just shut up and hired an Italian lawyer to begin with and contacted the American embassy.

It's an engaging book and provides detailed information - as much as the author could get at the time of the trial. It's a painstaking chronological re-creation f what might have happened. Personally, I believe most of what's written in the book and after reading some of the reviews on the other books that dealt with the same scandal in Italy, that this author probably had more neutrality than the others and that's why I purchased it. It's a good read and I highly recommend it to people who have kids studying in Europe.
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