Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Death In Belmont

A picture is worth a thousand words. And sometimes, a picture is as easily misunderstood as a thousand words.

Here's a lovely multigenerational family photo: young mother beaming down at her toddler on her lap, the proud handsome father standing behind her, both watched lovingly by a grandfather? Favorite uncle maybe?

Hmm. Images are not always what they appear to be.

The older man is actually a carpenter -one who built the house the young woman lives in. He and his assistant have spent the better part of the last two months building an studio addition to the young woman's home - going in and out at all hours, generally unsupervised, while her husband is away at work.

The young woman is an artist, and the child on her lap is most definitely loved and cherished.

That child will grow up to be an accomplished author, one with no memory of the day this photo was taken.

And the proud young father? That handsome young man is actually a part-time laborer, the assistant to the carpenter. He is strong and muscular, quiet and polite, conscientious about his work -always arriving on time and always particular about details.

His name is Al.

Albert DeSalvo. And he is about to become better known as The Boston Strangler.

A Death in Belmont is the strange story of author Sebastian Junger's brush with the infamous. It's the story of the day his mother hired a carpenter to build an addition to her home, and found herself staring down her basement steps, into the eyes of a man that would turn out to be a serial killer. That particular day, Albert DeSalvo had murdered a woman several blocks away, and then reliably showed up for work. When called to the top of the basement steps, something about his eyes served as warning, and the young mother stepped back, shut the door, and threw the bolt. In hindsight, entire lives turned on that one little uneasy feeling, that one small thought, that one glimmer of premonition.

This is one of those books you can't put down.

A Death in Belmont, by Sebastian Junger (2006).


Jana said...

Out here in the Northwest, the Green River Killer was our stuff of nightmares. Thanks for the tip on this book -- looks like fine vacation reading!

Anonymous said...

That sounds like a really cool book to read.