Mswas’ CBR-III Review #14 – The Murder Room by Michael Capuzzo


Three of the world’s best detectives invite other skilled professionals to join a group dedicated to solving cold cases, unsolved murders of innocent people. But this isn’t CBS’s Cold Case, this is reality. The Murder Room by Michael Capuzzo is non-fiction, but it seems  almost unbelievable. Forensic psychologist Richard Walter and forensic artist Frank Bender were polar opposites. Walter was tall, melancholy, and reserved, and Bender was ‘high school-educated, blunt-spoken, happily sex-addicted, and a psychic.’ Two unlikely individuals were brought together by William Lynn Fleisher. Fleisher, a large man who was a former FBI agent.

This interesting story of the three men and the Vidocq Society that they eventually found is quite compelling, but  unfortunately the author doesn’t do them justice. I had a hard time following the various backstories of the three men, and the answers to the crimes they faced were also scattered through the book.

It’s a shame, because the idea of a members-only society with the mission to fight crime – unsolved deaths that are more than two years old – is incredibly interesting.  Named for Eugène François Vidocq, the founder of the first French state detective agency, this group has solved a number  of cold cases. The individual sections themselves that described the cases were very good, and there were lots of gripping parts of the book. However, Capuzzo needed a better editor to help him to better pull his threads together.  The chronological thread was all over the place as well. When time is a factor in a storyline like the Time Traveller’s Wife or others, you expect it, but it was hard to follow. Capuzzo seems to be better suited to fiction.

For more information about the Vidocq Society, visit their website or read this informative article by the Guardian.


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