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Portrait of a Monster: Joran van der Sloot, a Murder in Peru, and the Natalee Holloway Mystery Hardcover – Abridged, July 5, 2011

4.4 out of 5 stars 81 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“This well-detailed book is disturbing and haunting in its revelations of a self-centered cad with a dark side.”--Publishers Weekly

“Journalists Pulitzer and Thompson zero in on Joran van der Sloot, a wealthy young man suspected of killing two young women within five years to the day of each other… This true-crime account delivers excellent and gripping reporting of the crimes and the manhunt.”--Booklist

“A thorough, journalistic recounting of two crimes, five years apart, linked by the same alleged perpetrator…A worthwhile read for true-crime fans and followers of the case.”--Kirkus Reviews

About the Author

LISA PULITZER is a former correspondent for The New York Times. She is the author of more than a dozen non-fiction books, including the bestselling Stolen Innocence. COLE THOMPSON is the co-author with Catherine Crier of A Deadly Game, a #1 New York Times bestseller about Laci and Scott Peterson.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; First Edition edition (July 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312359217
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312359218
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,025,736 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
For those like me who developed a strong case of Natalee fatigue, a new book will cure you. After years of wall-to-wall press coverage of a case obviously going nowhere, I became immune to the story. Anytime a "new lead" came up, I turned off the TV, knowing the clue was phony. While I sympathized with the Twittys and Holloways, I just got to the point that I no longer wanted to hear about the case.

But I recently read Portrait of a Monster and it changed my mind. The authors, both long-time true crime authors, are masterful in their portrayal of the two crimes attributed to Joran Van der Sloot: the disappearance of Natalee Holloway and the murder of Stephany Flores. Armed with court documents, police reports, interviews with many of those involved in the case, and photographs of the crime scenes, the authors vividly recreate the two crimes.

Holloway vanished in Aruba in 2005 while on a trip with her high school senior class. The last person known to have seen her alive was Van der Sloot. While he was never charged with kidnapping or murdering her, he changed his story dozens of times. Finally, he fled Aruba for the Netherlands, Thailand, and finally, Peru.

It was there at the casinos that he met Flores, the daughter of a wealthy businessman. When Van der Sloot realized that Flores had several thousand dollars on her, he lured her to his hotel room. Three days after he checked out, she was found dead--beaten, strangled, and smothered.

Portrait of a Monster is the definitive account of these cases. While Joran Van der Sloot awaits trial in Peru, the families of Natalee Holloway and Stephany Flores still grieve.

I recommend this book to all true crime fanatics.
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Format: Hardcover
I just finished reading "Portrait of a Monster: Joran van der Sloot, a Murder in Peru, and the Natalee Holloway Mystery". It was a gripping read.

After following this story through the years, there were still so many unanswered questions. I was thoroughly amazed how many of those questions were finally answered in this book. How can Mr. Thompson know so much about this case and EVERYONE involved and the media not?!?!?! The personal details that only someone intimately close to the case could know are revealed throughout. Evertyhing falls in to place in Portrait in an easy-to-follow fashion. Thompson really knows how to tell a story, feeding you all the juicy facts while staying focused on the how and why it happened the way it did.

He really gets inside of Van der Sloot's head and helps you understand everything that went on in Aruba and Peru as well as what led up to these tragic incidents and what's gone on since.

Once I started reading, I literally could not put it down. It was by far one of, if not THE best non-fiction crime books I have ever read. His and his co-author's understanding of this case and all of its intricacies alone is worth the price of the book. I highly recommend it.
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Format: Hardcover
So often, true crime books make me cringe. I appreciate the fact-finding, but I loathe the poorly written, agenda-laden text. Thankfully, Portrait of a Monster is not such a book. Although I thought I was thoroughly saturated with knowledge of the Natalie Holloway disappearance, this book brings me to scenes on four continents that make me seem like I am in the room. Some of the facts are fascinating, and not just the ones related to the two crimes at the centerpiece. I didn't know Joran tried to reinvent himself in Thailand only because he couldn't reach his intended destination, Australia. His flight from Lima to Santiago after the death of Stephany Flores is captured in extraordinary detail as the reader travels with him down the Pan-American highway with three car service cabbies of questionable integrity themselves. What comes next for Joran is also addressed in the book. Peru has no death penalty or life sentence, so the maximum sentence is 35 years. Whatever the outcome, the US is next in line, ready to try him for the extortion of Beth Twitty. With his trial looming, I cannot recommend this book enough!
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Format: Hardcover
This is a good book. It's not dense but it covers the two crimes adequately. The writing style is not exceptional, but the material is presented well and I definitely kept up interest all the way through. Whether that was the book itself or just the subject matter I can't really say. I would expect a book like this, especially covering two such crimes to be longer and more content dense. Perhaps that material is just not available and perhaps the authors chose to not include more to make it more appealing to a wider audience because people don't like difficult books.

I came away from this book thinking even less of Van der Sloot than before. I find it interesting that the signs that he was trouble were there for his parents long before he killed Natalie Holloway. While I feel bad for his mother and his parents should not be blamed, I can't help but feel they screwed this situation up badly. The guy is ill and should never get out.

In any case I think this is worth a read and I recommend it for people interested in the two cases. I was able to obtain a copy from the library and I recommend you do that rather than purchase the hardcover. I don't think it is going to be the "definitive" book on Van der Sloot because it is just not comprehensive enough.
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