Monday, December 29, 2008

True Crime: Death at Every Stop

(Wensley Clarkson, St. Martin’s Paperbacks, 1997)
Let’s give St. Martin’s a loud, appreciative hand for having once again managed to publish the full, factual and deeply insightful story of another contemporary murderer seconds after the echoes of the sound of last victim hitting the ground fade.

The murder of 1997 was undoubtedly that of designer Gianni Versace in Miami, the fifth cold-blooded killing by the HIV-infected, egoistic, narcissistic and decidedly "experienced" Andrew Cunanan. This book, while being no psychological masterpiece, does give an interesting insight into the life of the intelligent, attractive (by U.S. standards) gigolo, a life that slowly but surely led to his total self-destruction. By the end of Death at Every Stop, it is relatively easy to believe not only that Cunanan did the deed—hey, there is always a conspiracy out there somewhere; can you really prove that the CIA didn't do it?—but that he was completely capable of doing it.

Considering the young man’s lively past, the variety of his experiences and his ability to roll with all the prior blows in his life no matter how unexpected or large they were, it is a bit hard to fully understand what finally drove him off the edge. Jealousy, the undirected rage from being diagnosed as HIV-positive, the realization that his desirability was steadily decreasing as his age (wrinkles and grey hair) increased, some unexplainable urge to revenge himself against the world and all those who slighted him or did better than he did.... these and more possible reasons are presented, though by the end of his book, Clarkson strongly conveys the conviction that it must have been a mixture of everything that made Cunanan go on his rampage.

When viewing Cunanan himself, one sees an egoistic, narcissistic asshole whose friendship was probably based on the dollar bill but who was also probably great company. His high-sex, sordid life took a variety of interesting and unexpected turns that make for many an entertaining story, but nonetheless tells the sad tale of a talented man who, due to his own ego and inability to take responsibility, went headlong into his own destruction and, in the end, was fully intent to take others with him. Well, it must have been fun while it lasted.

But in regards to this book, the murder happened so long ago that a better written and more insightful and informative work is probably available. For a buck at Goodwill, why not? But if you're going to blow real dough, get something with a tad more substance.


(all found on the web)

Top — The book itself.

Middle — "Don't you want me, baby?"

Bottom — Uh, not anymore...

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