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Greentown: Murder and Mystery in Greenwich, America's Wealthiest Community Hardcover – April 27, 1998

3.7 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In examining the still-unsolved 1975 murder of 15-year-old Martha Moxley in a wealthy suburb of Greenwich, Connecticut, first-time author Timothy Dumas does not attempt to deliver a knockout punch of new evidence that might crack the case wide open. Instead, Dumas takes his readers on a literate excursion through the darkest secrets and fears of the girl's neighbors and fellow townspeople as they attempt to cope--first with the murder itself, and then with the helplessness of almost a quarter century of frustration as the case remains unsolved.

It's not that most people in town don't have any clue who performed the crime, Dumas shows, but that a moat of distance lies between the killer and those who would punish such a crime, a distance mainly built on the power, money, and political connections of the wealthy Skakel family, related by marriage to the Kennedys.

Dumas weaves a spellbinding tale, cut in the mold of Truman Capote's In Cold Blood or, more recently, John Berendt's Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Fans of those works will almost certainly enjoy this evocative and finely constructed story as well. --Tjames Madison

From Publishers Weekly

On the night of October 30, 1975, Martha Moxley, 15, was bludgeoned to death in her front yard with a golf club in affluent Greenwich, Conn. Dominick Dunne fictionalized these events in his 1993 bestseller, A Season in Purgatory. Now Dumas, formerly the managing editor of the Greenwich News, recounts the true story of Moxley's death and of how wealth and privilege appear to have been able to subvert justice. After describing the murder in harrowing detail, Dumas documents the investigations of the past 20 years, investigations that have seen information suppressed, once-willing witnesses back away and a battery of lawyers throw a protective wall around the prime suspect, Thomas Skakel, a classmate of the victim and a nephew of Ethel Kennedy. Skakel was the last person to see Moxley alive; the golf club that killed her came from the Skakel household. While the Skakel family initially agreed to cooperate with police, when it became evident that Thomas was a suspect, they closed ranks. While he remains a suspect, it seems unlikely that Thomas Skakel will ever be indicted, according to Dumas. People have moved on with their lives; many hope that memories of the crime will just fade away. Familiar with the area and the people involved, Dumas brings an unusual sensitivity and clarity to this disturbing tale. In the end, his book seems less about a murdered girl than about the devastation visited upon those whose lives were forever altered by the tragic events of a long-ago night. 8 pages of b&w photos.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Arcade Publishing; 1st edition (April 27, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1559704411
  • ISBN-13: 978-1559704410
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #224,354 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I read Tim Dumas' book shortly after I read Mark Fuhman's book on the Moxley case. I must recommend that the Fuhrman book be read first, to get a more concise description of the events of the Moxley case. Dumas' book was a much more in-depth read, with more emphasis on the cultural aspects of being very rich in Greenwich, and he even includes a description of the long tradition in the Belle Haven area of deaths caused by head trauma, going all the way back to the Vikings who first inhabited the area along with Native Americans hundreds of years ago, as if the area is cursed and doomed to have people killed this way throughout its history. I began reading this book around 8 pm one evening and could not put it down until I finished it at 1 am. It scared me, I must say. Dumas' use of graphic descriptions of the body, as well as his profiles of the Skakel family's and other neighbors' backgrounds were chilling, to say the least. I found his book to be excellent, full of information and interesting insights, as well as personal items about some of the suspects which were not included in Fuhrman's book. Some parts of Dumas' book were very overwritten and perhaps prejudiced because of his own experience of having lived in Greenwich during the time of the murder. He also approaches the case from a more sensational, journalistic slant, whereas Mark Fuhrman, who is actually a cop, seems more concerned with legal points. Overall, Dumas' book was absorbing and very informative. I was able to get a good feel for the types of lifestyles which could be found in this wealthy enclave in the 1970's, as well as the background details of this murder yet unsolved, and the probable chain of events that occurred the night Martha Moxley was murdered.
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By A Customer on July 22, 1998
Format: Hardcover
This is a well-written and thoroughly concise account of Martha Moxley's murder and the subsequent investigation. Once absorbed into the tale, "Greentown" is almost impossible to put down. Not only is the murder itself compelling, but the fact that it remains unsolved presents a mystery of the most interesting sort. The thing that Dumas has done is to deconstruct Greenwich, expose the problems at its heart, and explain how those problems essentially killed Martha. He attempts to solve this crime though its local residents, examining their lives explicitly. Behind the opulent facades lie disturbing tales of abuse and neglect brought on by excessive wealth. Dumas' frustration at the Belle Harbor stonewalling is almost tangible. It seems pretty plain that Tommy and/or Michael Skakel are the killers, and that they may never be apprehended because they are wealthy. It also seems clear that Belle Harbor doesn't mind this injustice, as long as the cameras and report! ers will go away and leave them alone. Still, there is just enough doubt to make everyone wonder. Dumas presents every clue, leading one suspicion after another. The book is as compelling as any fictional murder mystery, but is also an incredibly sobering commentary on injustice in America.
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Format: Hardcover
If you've read Murder in Greenwich first you may, like me, have to get used to and even cringe a bit at the overly dramatic and poetic bits from Dumas in describing the case. Dumas may have had access to a few more interviewees than Fuhrman but he did not have the Sutton reports nor talk at all about the autopsy. Bottom line: Fuhrman is (was) a cop, Dumas is a journalist. What does this mean for you, the reader? Well, if you're a fan of true crime you will probably appreciate Fuhrman's concentration on the case and the murder itself. Dumas is too flowery in his language and he even goes off on a 20-something page tangent all about the extensive history of Greenwich, dating back to the Vikings(!) That's great for a history book but does not have a thing to do with the murder of Martha Moxley and is completely unnecessary (re: padding.) Dumas also speeds through the developments of things years after the murder, lingering on only the first few years after the 1975 killing. Of interest is the reporting of Fuhrman's presence. The problem is also that Dumas has no real opinion of the case or of the identity or motive or carrying out of the murder. Fuhrman comes up front and reconstructs the scene in a very detailed manner and explicitly names the killer in his mind (Michael Skakel.) Dumas is content sitting back and feeding you this strange place called Greenwich. But anyone interested in this case will most definitely read both books. Dumas' book is better read after the more case-involved Fuhrman book. Fuhrman will hook you more to the case first than Dumas will.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book had me up through the night reading! I literally could not put it down. But, even though the pace was like a fighter jet, it was the insights into the town and its people -- the wealth, greed, and circling-the-wagons mentality -- that made it special. The author gave us so much more than the case itself. By the time I was done I felt as though I had known the girl, as though I had visited many of the same places, had been snubbed by some of the very same people. The author made me see and feel everything! By contrast, afterwards I picked up Mark Fuhrman's book, and was astounded at the emptiness of the text -- that book was so embarrassingly bad and self-serving I could not finish. I would recommend A Wealth of Evil to anyone interested in a great read and a stirring social commentary.
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