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Perfect Murder, Perfect Town: JonBenet and the City of Boulder Hardcover – February, 1999

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Editorial Reviews Review

The murder of 6-year-old JonBenét Ramsey on Christmas night in 1996 inspired sensational headlines throughout the nation--and plunged idyllic Boulder, Colorado's justice system into an ongoing nightmare. In Perfect Murder, Perfect Town, bestselling author Lawrence Schiller explores both the child's mysterious death and the exhaustive, yet often mishandled, investigation that has, in the two years since the crime, failed to produce either a plausible scenario or a killer. The more that was discovered about the crime, the less likelihood there seemed of tying all the evidence into a single theory that fit the murder scene. Meanwhile, conflicting agendas and personalities within the Boulder police department, the district attorney's office, and the sheriff's office escalated a war that has all but eroded the picture-postcard image of liberal, laid-back Boulder.

Schiller has a knack for distilling context and meaning from violent crime. He partnered with Norman Mailer on the Pulitzer Prize-winning Executioner's Song and was O.J. Simpson's choice of confidante for I Want to Tell You. (From there, he went on to write the definitive story of the Simpson defense, American Tragedy.) For Perfect Murder, Perfect Town, Schiller and researcher Charles Brennan conducted more than 500 interviews, examining the exculpatory evidence from every conceivable point of view to create a fascinating portrait of what happens when tragedy strikes in paradise. There are no easy answers, no simple outs; the murder of JonBenét Ramsey remains unsolved. --Patrizia DiLucchio

From the Inside Flap

Nothing written about the death of JonBenét Ramsey can possibly prepare the reader for the revelations in this book. Here, acclaimed writer Lawrence Schiller reveals for the first time the uncensored true story of the events that unfolded on Christmas night of 1996 and the unthinkable damage suffered by a community in the aftermath. This gripping, definitive account finally answers the question: What happened in the town of Boulder, Colorado?

Perfect Murder, Perfect Town tells the story of a city at war with itself: the bitter struggle between John and Patsy Ramsey and local law enforcement; the clash between the District Attorney and the Boulder police; and the tabloid media that has taken upon itself the responsibility of issuing blame. The reader is drawn into the maelstrom of the heated arguments and rapid-fire events surrounding the investigation--the anguish, the blunders, the rivalries, the jealousies, and the peripheral victims on every side.

As he did in American Tragedy, Lawrence Schiller thoroughly re-creates every aspect of this complex case in a powerful, spellbinding story drawn from recorded interviews with investigators, prosecutors, law enforcement members and their confidants, and members of the Ramsey family themselves. He uncovers the mysteries that have bewildered the nation for more than two years. Why were the Ramseys, the target of the investigation, able to obtain knowledge of critical evidence in the case and control the direction of a police inquiry? Can the answer to the murder be found in the pen and writing pad used for the ransom note? Was it possible for an intruder to have killed JonBenét that night? And what did the Ramseys tell the police and the District Attorney in more than twenty hours of questioning?

Beyond these revelations and hundreds more, Perfect Murder, Perfect Town is a brilliant portrait of an inscrutable family thrust under the spotlight of public suspicion and an affluent, tranquil city torn apart by a crime it was not prepared to deal with. Meticulously researched and masterfully written, this is a tour de force that will be read for years to come.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 621 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers; 1st edition (February 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060191538
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060191535
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 6.5 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,492,463 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 10, 1999
Format: Hardcover
If you're a reader of typical true-crime books and require a format with a beginning, middle, and end in order to be satisfied, you may be disappointed by PMPT. But if you are an armchair detective who loves to have access to tons of details that allow you to draw your own conclusions, you should love it as much as I did. Many complain that it is just a rehash of information that was already known. I don't agree. Tucked into these pages you'll meet characters who have not made the news and you'll discover new details about those who have. The book's format is primarily chronological which may, to some, appear to be poor organization. I think it's perfect organization. This volume is a collection of historical artifacts related to the crime and to the town (at least the part of the town that is connected to the investigation of the crime and/or its political makeup). Do not expect to be given a point of view of by the authors. That is not their purpose. They merely offer information and leave it to you to decide if it's pertinent. In that way, the book is like an investigation. Investigators must collect all manner of information and sort through it to get to what they believe has some bearing on the crime. Schiller and Brennan provide you with that opportunity -- via interviews with, and facts about, a vast array of characters and background information on the environment in which the Ramsey murder was committed. Some of the material may not be of interest to you (all of it interested me), but it's easy enough to skip ahead to what does interest you. The text is divided up into somewhat brief narrative nuggets, each of which deals with a specific interview or piece of information or event.Read more ›
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 15, 1999
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a law enforcement officer I followed this case in the credible papers and television news. I never read the tabloids. When I heard an unbiased and credible book was going to be released I knew I would have to read it. This book is exactly that. The author provides many insights into the crime as well as the political power plays in the DA's Office and Boulder Police. The author sets forth the facts and lets the reader decide who is guilty. I admit I believed Patsy Ramsey is guilty of this murder before I read the book and still do after reading it. Patsy Ramsey, like O.J. Simpson, is sitting back laughing at their respective DA's Offices and local Police Departments. The reader will too. It is hard to believe that grown, professional individuals acted this way. If anything, this book insures that DA Alex Hunter and the Boulder Police Department, except for a handful of detectives, will live in incompetent infamy along with the Simpson jury. The book does have moments of repetition that could have been avoided. Other than that flaw, this is a very well researched and written book on the JBR murder investigation.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By One World on March 6, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book gives an overview of the case thus far as well as a look at all of the childish bickering that has gone on between the police, the Ramsey attorneys and Hunter. The account within the pages has given me some insight as to why the public has charged the Ramseys with the murder. There is a wealth of information that leave me with questions as toward the parent's innocence. Why won't they take a polygraph? for example. Also the enhanced 911 call that reveals John talking to Burke. While the writer does not set out to accuse anybody of the murder, this book gives credance to the public suspicion of the Ramseys.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By LRoberts on January 16, 2000
Format: Audio Cassette
This book is the best compilation of the facts that I've read and I've read all of the published books on this murder. Most of the other books are clearly biased either to show that the Ramseys murdered their daughter or to show that they didn't. This book is just the facts but the facts will lead the reader to the only explanation - Either Patsy did it or Patsy knew who did. She definately covered it up.
A lot of information was here that I' hadn't seen anywhere else. For example, on the Ramsey last interviews, the detectives got Patsy to become quite hostile and show her true side (the bad temper), for a while she forgot to display her devout Christian/Southern Bell/Beauty Queen image. It's a shame that the public didn't get to see it.
We also see how the Ramsey's money and influence has kept justice from being done. An inexperienced police force, a timid and image conscience prosecuter, and the Ramsey's high dollar lawyers all contributed to allowing them to get away with murder.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By on March 27, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I'm not finished with the book but so far I have mixed feelings. As a previous employee of Boulder County Sheriff's Department, I have been reading it with great interest. Many of the key law enforcement and D.A. figures are people I knew well.
While I think Schiller was fairly thorough in his research, there have already been a few glaring inaccuracies that tend to cast a shadow of doubt on the rest of his facts. Specifically, in the Peter Fisher case during the 70's, Schiller says the girls were shot in Boulder Canyon and the surviving girl stumbled into Gold Hill Inn. He also says the arrestee, Peter Fisher, was convicted and is still in prison. The girls were actually shot in Sunshine Canyon and the survivor flagged down a passing car. Peter Fisher was found floating face down in an irrigation ditch on the prison property after only a couple of years. These facts were too easy to get right so I'm a little leary about the rest of his research. Although the various agencies always worked well enough together, there's always been a bit of a "turf war." I only wish that this had been a Sheriff's Office case from the beginning; I think it would have been handled in an immensely more professional manner. I did have to smile though at the tee shirts that some of the Sheriff's Officers had made up: "Boulder County Sheriff's Department - We're The Other Guys!"
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