Award-winning author and journalist Nina Burleigh’s mesmerizing literary investigation of the murder of Meredith Kercher, the controversial prosecution, the conviction and twenty-six-year sentence of Amanda Knox, the machinations of Italian justice, and the underground depravity and clash of cultures in one of central Italy’s most beloved cities.
The sexually violent murder of twenty-one-year-old British student Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy, on the night of November 1, 2007, became an international sensation when one of Kercher’s housemates, twenty-year-old Seattle native Amanda Knox, as well as her Italian boyfriend and a troubled local man Knox said she “vaguely” knew, was arrested and charged with the murder. When Perugia authorities concluded that the murder was part of a dark, twisted rite—a “sex game”—led by the American with an uncanny resemblance to Perugia’s Madonna, they unleashed a media frenzy from Rome to London to New York and Seattle. The story drew an international cult obsessed with “Foxy Knoxy,” a pretty honor student on a junior year abroad, who either woke up one morning into a nightmare of superstition and misogyny—the dark side of Italy—or participated in something unspeakable.
The investigation begins in the old stone cottage overlooking bucolic olive groves where Kercher’s body was found in her locked bedroom. It winds through the shadowy, arched alleys of Perugia, a city of art that is also a magnet for tens of thousands of students who frequent its bars, clubs, and drug bazaar on the steps of the Duomo. It climaxes in an up-close account of Italy’s dysfunctional legal system, as the trial slowly unfolds at the town’s Tribunale, and the prosecution’s thunderous final appeal to God before the quivering girl defendant resembles a scene from the Inquisition.
To reveal what actually happened on that terrible night after Halloween, Nina Burleigh lived in Perugia, attended the trial, and corresponded with the incarcerated defendants. She also delved deeply into the history, secrets, and customs of Perugia, renowned equally for its Etruscan tunnels, early Christian art, medieval sorcerers, and pagan roots.
A New York Times bestseller, The Fatal Gift of Beauty is the thoughtful, compelling examination of an enduring mystery, an ancient, storied place, and a disquieting facet of Italian culture: an obsession with female eroticism. By including the real story of Rudy Guede, it is also an acute window into the minds and personalities of the accused killers and of the conservative Italian magistrate striving to make sense of an inexplicable act of evil. But at its core is an indelible portrait of Amanda Knox, the strangely childlike, enigmatic beauty, whose photogenic face became the focal point of international speculation about the shadow side of youth and freedom.
The 2007 murder of 22-year-old British student Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy, captured the world's attention because of the woman eventually convicted of killing her: 20-year-old Seattle native and fellow student Amanda Knox. Burleigh (Mirage: Napoleon's Scientists and the Unveiling of Egypt) examines the intertwined lives of the students and the media circus surrounding the trial in this powerful example of narrative nonfiction. In July 2007, Knox moved into a house shared with Kercher and two older Italian women. On November 2, Kercher was found with her throat slit in her bedroom, and Knox and Raffaele Sollecito whom she'd started seeing only a few days earlier were first on the scene. Giuliano Mignini, the notoriously tough Perugian prosecutor, charged them with murder, adding their acquaintance Rudy Guede when evidence placed him at the crime scene. The protracted trial was awash with what Burleigh describes as faulty forensic evidence and testimony that was more rumor than substantiated fact, but Knox was convicted and sentenced to 26 years in prison; she is appealing her conviction. Burleigh, who parses how the Knox trial was perhaps tainted, still presents a fair and unbiased portrait of a girl adrift in a foreign legal system and a culture rife with preconceptions about young American women, 15 b&w photos; 2 maps.
While Burleigh provides a decent narrative of the case of Amanda Knox, there are a few mistakes regarding Italian culture. At times, Burleigh seems to make suppositions about Italian culture that may be different from region to region.
Forget any book saying she is innocent
Amanda and the media can spin any tale they want, but the evidence doesn't lie. Amanda Knox is as guilty as OJ Simpson. I suggest the book Meredith by John Kercher. He talks about the Kercher family's astonishment at Amanda Knox's and Rafaelle Sollecito's acquittal after 10k pages of evidence against Amanda Knox and Rafaelle Sollecito in trial 1. Kercher has been a journalist and he is an excellent writer.
Alan Dersowitchz, a famous attorney has stated that in 50 years he has never seen a trial so one sidedly portrayed by the 🇺🇸 media. Americans were not privy to the evidence like Italians were - they all know she's guilty. Let's break down just some of the evidence against Amanda Knox & Rafaelle Sollecito- and this isn't all of it.
1) A staged break in-Whenever a break in is staged it is due to someone having a connection to the house trying to thwart their involvement - we often see this on Forensic Files. The window was broken from the inside not the outside and it was a huge rock, not even able to fit through the window that no one would be 100% impossible to throw through a 2 story window. Glass was found on top of items in a suspicious way, not all over and underneath.
2) Amanda's foot matched the footprint that was made in Meredith'a blood on the bathroom floor rug.
3) Amanda's blood was found in the bathroom sink on top of the faucet or something the morning of the murder. Her defense says she had a nosebleed. Bull.
4) Meredith's blood was found in the bathroom sink as well mixed with Amanda Knox's DNA.
5) Amanda's DNA was found on a kitchen knife with Meredith's DNA on the knife blade. This was retested at the appeal years later and they said it wasn't human DNA - rye bread or something. The knife had been bleached and I think the bleach combined with time erased the traces of Meredith's DNA over time. Also the knife wasn't found at the apartment - it was found at Amanda's boyfriend's apartment. Why would Meredith's kitchen knife be at his apartment anyway?
6)Amanda and Rafaelle turned their phones off all night for the first time the night of the murder all night.
7) Amanda falsely accused an innocent man of murdering her roommate when she was interrogated by police. She claims they beat her and that this was a coerced false confession. Well he was in jail for 2 weeks- Amanda had all that time to come out and say that he was really innocent. She would have let that man sit in prison for this had a university professor and many others not come forward saying he was with Lumumba at his restaurant. Amanda was sued for defamation by the interrogators for saying they hit her and coerced her.
8) A shop owner testified that Amanda Knox was waiting for him to open his store the morning after the murder and she went straight to get cleaning supplies and their is a receipt for bleach. The apartment had been bleached and cleaned of Amanda Knox's prints.
9) Amanda and Rafaelle had no alibi and they lied about the one they tried to pass off.
10) Rafaelle's DNA was found on Meredith's bra clasp. It was left at the crime seen for 40+ days or so, but still evidence is evidence and people can claim contamination but I don't.
11) Meredith's phones were thrown over a fence. A neighbor called to report the suspicious appearance of the phones in her yard and the postal police investigated- which led them to Meredith's apartment. Amanda and Rafaelle were outside at the time. After the postal police showed up Rafaelle called the Italian police. This would make it look to outsiders that Rafaelle reported the break in and then everyone showed up. Think about it-if the investigators show up to give Meredith her phones and she is dead-murdered then suspicion will go on the roommates who were at the crime scene.
11) Investigators confronted Rafaelle for calling police after the postal police arrived at which point Rafaelle signed a statement saying that he had been lying for amanda and that she left his house that night returning a few hours later. At this point it would suggest that when they told him that they knew about him calling the police after the postal police arrived that he turned on Amanda and tried to put the blame on her. Since they were wrongfully acquitted they are friends again.
12) The behavior of Amanda Knox and her boyfriend -whom she had only known for 4 days by the way - has come under suspicion and rightfully so. She and her boyfriend were making out outside the crime scene like two snake lovers in a crime spree. If you look up the Amanda Knox BBC documentary on YouTube, that infamous picture of Amanda on Rafaelle's arms looking at the crime scene investigators is the still shot used for the video and that picture screams guilt to me. You have to see the picture to understand.
At the police station as a "witness" with Meredith's friends, Amanda was making out with her boyfriend, doing cartwheels & stretches - I think she was doing that in the lobby to make people think that the innocent girl doing cartwheels couldn't be the one who did this. She also made a comment to Meredith's friends: "Of course she suffered she had her F***ing throat cut." Meredith's friends informed investigators that Amanda was the exact opposite of Meredith. Meredith did send a text out to her sister before she died that she had a fight with Amanda.
Amanda & Rafaelle were filmed kissing/buying lingerie the next day like a honeymoon. Young love.
13) Rudy Guede has said Amanda was there and that she killed Meredith after being confronted for stealing Meredith's rent money. Rudy was convicted in the killing as well.
14) Investigators determined that Meredith Kercher was killed by 3 people based on forensic evidence. I agree with the prosecutor - I think they killed without motive.
Exhaustively researched, well-written account
I’ve never been sure what to think about the murder of Meredith Kercher. I didn’t want to believe that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, little more than children themselves, could be guilty of such a heinous crime, but they were convicted, so I had to think it possible. The came appeals, acquittals, new trials, reinstated convictions and now, finally, Italy’s supreme court giving a definitive acquital that ends the case, once and for all. If you want to know how all of that is possible, Nina Burleigh’s exhaustively researched, well-written account will take you through things, at least to the first overturning of the conviction, in detail. She attended the trial, read transcripts, watched video archives, consulted experts, contacted key figures in the case, by letter or in person-to-person interviews. Hers is a rational account of what happened and why, and should be of interest to anyone who wants to understand this terribly tragic case