Friday, September 16, 2011

Book 77: A Family Cursed

“A Family Cursed” by Kevin F. McMurray was an interesting book about the two Kissel murders. Well there has been some postulation that Andrew Kissel wasn’t murdered and it was a suicide for hire but that idea is a bit out there by most people who have involved themselves in this case. I liked the book but they were times I would have liked better organization.

I’m a murder junkie. I’m fascinated by murder, serial killers, genocide and etc especially when it comes to the ideas that could possess a person to commit those crimes. As I’m typing this review, I got Deadly Women (a show on ID about women murderers) on. The Kissel case has piqued my curiosity for a while now. It’s crazy to think about how two brothers who were worth millions were both killed in less than two and half years apart. In all honesty, I was going to hold off on reading this book until later on in the year. Then I saw the American Greed episode related to the Kissel cases which also included the author. Then I knew I had to bump up the book immediately.

The Robert Kissel murder is fascinating to me. His wife murders him, sleeps with his dead body wrapped up in a carpet in their bedroom for three days, and her own best friend testified against her due to the fact she acted as a confident to both Robert and Nancy. Oh yeah there was a toxic milkshake before Robert was beaten to death that was fed to him and their neighbor. The case was a bit crazy especially due to the wealth that was involved. McMurray does a great job at touching on all the different complexities to the case: poisoning, states of mind of the major actors, the affair that Nancy was involved in and etc. Things are presented in a fairly balanced light which tried to explain why Nancy killed her husband without just writing her off as evil. It was apparent he really did his research for this book.

Then two and half years later, Andrew Kissel dies. Now his death is more complicated since at the same time, his life was unraveling. His fraudulent real estate actions were being uncovered; he was divorcing his wife, and losing his massive wealth. He’s found dead at the home that he was being evicted from. Now unlike Robert’s case which really only had one suspect, Andrew’s case had several suspects. But eventually the police start to focus on Carlos Trujillo. Trujillo was close to his employer and was willing to do many things for him. The book started to lay out the potential for Trujillo to help aid in a “suicide-for-hire” campaign using Trujillo. Now there wasn’t a ton of weight initially put into the idea for suicide for hire since most people thought he was in fairly good spirits despite everything going on. While it was presented in the book, there was a lot of doubt cased into the idea that Andrew would kill himself, let alone hire someone to kill him so his family could get the insurance money.

I loved the way the book presented the two cases both completely, was well research and entirely readable. The book itself was an easy read and good. It’s not everyday when you can learn a lot about a criminal case with sides be presented without overt ‘this is what happened’ tone when it comes to the state of minds and the parts of the case that is more circumstantial. It made the book very enjoyable.

The main fault with the book was how it was organized. By trying to include all the angles to a case, it means having a lot to discuss. Things weren’t always chronological and there were some tangents of thoughts that weren’t fully tied together. At times I would complain about the lack of clarity more then others.

All in all, I enjoyed this book a lot despite having some flaws in structure. Although when I was talking to a friend about the book in a letter, I was a little bit more vocal about my discontent at the time. The end result ended up enjoying the book because of how well it was done.

As a side note, after the book was published, Trujillo’s cousin plead guilty to manslaughter and conspiracy to commit murder and Carlos Trujillo was acquitted of his murder charge and the attempted murder charge. So there is still a lot of debate of what really happened in the Andrew Kissel murder case.

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