Acclaimed true-crime journalist Linda Wolfe presents the chilling case of a college professor who bludgeoned to death the prostitute he loved—plus eight other true stories that expose the psychological forces that drive seemingly respectable people to commit violent, unexpected crimes
A professor at Tufts University School of Medicine, a suburban husband, and father of three, William Douglas secretly frequented Boston’s Combat Zone, a world of pimps, pushers, and porn shops. One night in 1982 he met twenty-year-old prostitute and former art student Robin Benedict, with whom he began a torrid affair that would end in murder.
With the revealing psychological insights that made her previous books such riveting character studies, Wolfe depicts the catastrophic results of Douglas’s living out his secret love fantasies and the complex police investigation that brought the professor to justice.
Among the eight shorter true-crime stories included in this volume is the case of the notorious Marcus twins, Manhattan gynecologists and drug addicts who were found dead together in an Upper East Side apartment. Wolfe also takes readers into the gay and transsexual clubs of 1980s New York for a twisted story of love and murder, and to the Texas suburbs, where a privileged fourteen-year-old boy takes a semiautomatic to his parents one sweltering July morning.
The murderers and manics in this collection of stories are all respectable folk, members of the professional, academic and business middle class. Though based on interviews, transcripts and other factual records, the tales are recounted as nonfiction short stories including an account of the double suicide of the Marcus twins, Manhattan gynecologists, which Wolfe expanded into a novel, Private Practices. These accounts have powerful narrative interest and the author explores background and psychological forces as clues to her subjects' behavior. While they occur without obvious warning, the tragedies perpetrated by her subjects, she affirms, didn't just happen; outward serenity often masks inhibitions, frustrations and resentment, along with drug-induced or psychiatric disorders. Photos not seen by PW. Literary Guild alternate.