Sunday, July 10, 2011

Book Review: Portrait of a Monster

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Portrait of a Monster: Joran Van der Sloot, A Murder in Peru, and the Natalee Holloway Mystery
Lisa Pulitzer and Cole Thompson
St. Martin’s Press, 2011

Review by Robert A. Waters

For those like me who developed a strong case of Natalee fatigue, a new book will cure you. After years of wall-to-wall press coverage of a case obviously going nowhere, I became immune to the story. Anytime a “new lead” came up, I turned off the TV, knowing the clue was phony. While I sympathized with the Twittys and Holloways, I just got to the point that I no longer wanted to hear about the case.

But I recently read Portrait of a Monster and it changed my mind. The authors, both long-time true crime authors, are masterful in their portrayal of the two crimes attributed to Joran Van der Sloot: the disappearance of Natalee Holloway and the murder of Stephany Flores. Armed with court documents, police reports, interviews with many of those involved in the case, and photographs of the crime scenes, the authors vividly recreate the two crimes.

Holloway vanished in Aruba in 2005 while on a trip with her high school senior class. The last person known to have seen her alive was Van der Sloot. While he was never charged with kidnapping or murdering her, he changed his story dozens of times. Finally, he fled Aruba for the Netherlands, Thailand, and finally, Peru.

It was there at the casinos that he met Flores, the daughter of a wealthy businessman. When Van der Sloot realized that Flores had several thousand dollars on her, he lured her to his hotel room. Three days after he checked out, she was found dead--beaten, strangled, and smothered. Her money and credit cards were missing.

Portrait of a Monster is the definitive account of these cases. While Joran Van der Sloot awaits trial in Peru, the families of Natalee Holloway and Stephany Flores still grieve.

I recommend this book to all true crime fanatics.

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