Thursday, January 22, 2009

True Crime: Unholy Matrimony

(John Dillmann, Berkley Books, 1988)
A nifty, interesting and literately written read about a convoluted murder for money, involving two almost unbelievably cold-hearted and sleazy murders and a beautiful, very naive victim. Back in the early 1070s, young Patricia Albanowski, after a quick romancing, marries fake-psychologist Claudius James “Jim" Giesick, who, along with the massively fat and massage-parlor-owning Reverend Sam Corey, had been seeking a perfect victim to insure and kill. Soon after, while the newlyweds are in New Orleans on their honeymoon, Geisick and Corey stage a hit and run accident in which Patricia dies, a death worth about a quarter million. Had the two murders used more cunning and shown a little more faked compassion in the aftermath, in all likelihood Detective John Dillmann, despite his empathy for Patricia’s bereaved parents, would also have simply accepted the event as an accident, as it so obviously seemed to be, and yet another murder would have been gotten away with. Unholy Matrimony narrates Dillmann’s investigation, beginning with his initial dread of such a mundane, pointless investigation, through the slowly developing belief that an unprovable murder had been committed, to his eventual breaking of the case. The murder itself isn’t all that exceptional, though the bold, cold-blooded thoroughness in which it is planned and executed is noteworthy. The two murders involved, however, are truly an interesting, unbelievable duo of sleaze bags, one would think more prone to be found in the pages of a pulp fiction detective magazine than in the real world. Dillmann does a commendable job at both solving the case and at narrating it, though his Brady Bunch family life gets on the nerves sometimes.
Update: Though sentenced to death originally, Corey had his sentence reduced to life in prison. Giesick got out of jail in 1986 after serving a bit more than half of his 21-year sentence. In 2001, he pleaded guilty to fraud, but by now he is probably out again and courting your daughter.
A television film of the events was made in 1988 by Jerrold Freedman starring Patrick Duffy and Michael O’Keefe.

Images (from the web):
Above: The good book itself.
Below: The TV film.

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