REVIEW: The Fact of a Body, Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Before Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich begins a summer job at a law firm in Louisiana, working to help defend men accused of murder, she thinks her position is clear. The child of two lawyers, she is staunchly anti-death penalty. But the moment convicted murderer Ricky Langley’s face flashes on the screen as she reviews old tapes―the moment she hears him speak of his crimes―she is overcome with the feeling of wanting him to die. Shocked by her reaction, she digs deeper and deeper into the case. Despite their vastly different circumstances, something in his story is unsettlingly, uncannily familiar. Crime, even the darkest and most unsayable acts, can happen to any one of us. As Alexandria pores over the facts of the murder, she finds herself thrust into the complicated narrative of Ricky’s childhood. And by examining the details of Ricky’s case, she is forced to face her own story, to unearth long-buried family secrets, and reckon with a past that colors her view of Ricky's crime. But another surprise awaits: She wasn’t the only one who saw her life in Ricky’s.

There’s a common theme to a lot of true crime that rubs me up the wrong way: the single-minded focus on the murderers, the molesters, the rapists. Dahlmer, Bundy, Manson. Everybody is too busying gawping at the monsters to realise that the people they did the things that got them the label in the first place, their victims, were actual, real-life human beings.
Yes, I understand the need for people to understand why they did the things that they did. To retroactively see if they could’ve stopped them before it got so far. But if this all comes at the cost of forgetting the victims? Then I’m not here for that.
Fuck Ricky Langley. Seriously, screw him. I don’t give a fuck about how terrible his childhood was, or how his parents met and how they conceived him.
And do you know why?
Jeremy Guillory.
A six-year-old boy who did not deserve to die. A six-year-old boy who’s life was cut short because of this arsehole’s whims. A six-year-old boy who doesn’t get a second-thought or even just a mention, after a quarter of the way into this book.
How Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich deals with her own trauma is entirely up to her. But, that does not give her the right to offer the same absolution, mercy, whatever to Jeremy Guillory’s murderer.

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