The Spider and the Fly by Claudia Rowe
A Reporter, a Serial Killer, and the Meaning of Murder

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Though she skewers Kendall for trivialities such as liking “white pop” and speaking with an affected tone, she rarely turns that harsh lens on herself. It is only toward the end of the book, when Rowe admits her bias, that her story begins to strike a chord.
-Publishers Weekly

Synopsis

“Extraordinarily suspenseful and truly gut-wrenching. . . . A must-read.”—Gillian Flynn, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Gone Girl

In this superb work of literary true crime—a spellbinding combination of memoir and psychological suspense—a female journalist chronicles her unusual connection with a convicted serial killer and her search to understand the darkness inside us.

"Well, well, Claudia. Can I call you Claudia? I’ll have to give it to you, when confronted at least you’re honest, as honest as any reporter. . . . You want to go into the depths of my mind and into my past. I want a peek into yours. It is only fair, isn’t it?"—Kendall Francois

In September 1998, young reporter Claudia Rowe was working as a stringer for the New York Times in Poughkeepsie, New York, when local police discovered the bodies of eight women stashed in the attic and basement of the small colonial home that Kendall Francois, a painfully polite twenty-seven-year-old community college student, shared with his parents and sister.

Growing up amid the safe, bourgeois affluence of New York City, Rowe had always been secretly fascinated by the darkness, and soon became obsessed with the story and with Francois. She was consumed with the desire to understand just how a man could abduct and strangle eight women—and how a family could live for two years, seemingly unaware, in a house with the victims’ rotting corpses. She also hoped to uncover what humanity, if any, a murderer could maintain in the wake of such monstrous evil.

Reaching out after Francois was arrested, Rowe and the serial killer began a dizzying four-year conversation about cruelty, compassion, and control; an unusual and provocative relationship that would eventually lead her to the abyss, forcing her to clearly see herself and her own past—and why she was drawn to danger.

 

About Claudia Rowe

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Claudia Rowe is a staff writer at The Seattle Times and has twice been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Her work has been published in numerous outlets, including The New York Times, Mother Jones, Huffington Post, Women’s Day, and Seattle's alternative weekly, The Stranger. She has been honored by the Society of Professional Journalists, the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, and was awarded the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. She lives in Seattle, Washington. Author Image 1
 
Published January 24, 2017 by Dey Street Books. 293 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for The Spider and the Fly
All: 3 | Positive: 0 | Negative: 3

Kirkus

Below average
on Nov 09 2016

...some readers may be frustrated with how to view the book: as a twisted coming-of-age memoir or the chronicle of a determined hunt for a killer’s motive. Uneven but capably written. Rowe leaves readers wishing for a more satisfying solution to one puzzle while feeling relief in the resolution of the other.

Read Full Review of The Spider and the Fly: A Rep... | See more reviews from Kirkus

Publishers Weekly

Above average
on Sep 27 2017

Though she skewers Kendall for trivialities such as liking “white pop” and speaking with an affected tone, she rarely turns that harsh lens on herself. It is only toward the end of the book, when Rowe admits her bias, that her story begins to strike a chord.

Read Full Review of The Spider and the Fly: A Rep... | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

NPR

Below average
Reviewed by Annalisa Quinn on Jan 26 2017

Rowe is not a truly bad writer. But she enters into a world of pain and violence and comes away only with a book about herself.

Read Full Review of The Spider and the Fly: A Rep... | See more reviews from NPR

Reader Rating for The Spider and the Fly
70%

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