A Death in Belmont (Magill's Literary Annual 2007)
The ldquo;six degrees of separation” theory known to popular culture states that every person in the world is personally connected to every other person via a chain of fewer than six people. The chain between the author and the subjects of this book is considerably shorter than six. When Sebastian Junger was a year old, his family had an addition built onto their house in Belmont, Massachusetts, so that his mother, Ellen Junger, could have her own artist’s studio.
Opposite the book’s title page is a photograph taken by the contractor on March 12, 1963, which shows the author, his mother, and two of the workers. One of those workers was Albert DeSalvo, who later became infamous as the Boston Strangler. On the previous day, when DeSalvo was working alone at the Junger house, Belmont resident Bessie Goldberg was murdered only 1.2 miles away. (The distance was later determined by police officers.) Roy Smith, a thirty-five-year-old African American former convict, was convicted of the murder. Junger’s parents, however, always speculated that DeSalvo was the true murderer. This book is the result of Junger’s research into the crime.
There are actually five stories in the book, and Junger skillfully interweaves them. The first is the story of the building of the home addition and Ellen Junger’s relationship with DeSalvo. Except for two incidents, it was a cordial businesslike relationship in which the two would occasionally sit down and...
(The entire section is 1807 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2007)
Booklist 102, no. 12 (February 15, 2006): 4.
Kirkus Reviews 74, no. 5 (March 1, 2006): 221.
Library Journal 131, no. 6 (April 1, 2006): 110.
New Statesman 135 (June 19, 2006): 67.
The New York Times Book Review 155 (April 16, 2006): 12.
Newsweek 147, no. 15 (April 10, 2006): 58-59.
Publishers Weekly 253, no. 7 (February 13, 2006): 70.
The Spectator 301 (May 20, 2006): 46.
Time 167, no. 15 (April 10, 2006): 75.
The Times Literary Supplement, May 26, 2006, p. 36.
The Wall Street Journal 247, no. 82 (April 8, 2006): P8.
(The entire section is 48 words.)