First Book On The Case Due Out Now By Paul Russell and Graham Johnson EDIT

Added later: Common perceptions on reading Darkness Descending is that it is actually pretty good - chilling, and clearly pro-guilt. As he himself might admit, Grahame Johnson seemingly did himself and his two co-authors no favors in his woolly piece for the BBC that we are critical of below.  But we’d like to post some key excerpts from the book itself, soon after we finish posting on the judges sentencing report due out around 2 March.

Darkness Descending is now said to be available although we are not yet seeing it show up in Manhattan stores.

We’ll keep looking though and will be reviewing it soonest. It is by British writers Paul Russell and Graham Johnson with Luciano Garofano, and the publisher is Simon and Schuster.

We first mentioned the book here.  John Follain’s book, intended as the most in-depth on the case, will now be out late in 2010. 

There are no media reviews or reader reviews of Darkness Descending online as of yet. However co-author Graham Johnson wrote this piece about the book on the BBC website.

Johnson attempts some compassion for Meredith and her family, but comes across generally as not quite as up-to-speed on the fine details of the case as any long-time reader of TJMK and PMF.

For example, this claimed demonization of Amanda Knox was actually a pale shadow of the regular roastings of alleged perps on the CNN crimeshows - or of the demonization of Prosecutor Mignini himself by many on the Knox bandwagon (see here and here). 

Several phenomena have haunted the case like the Etruscan ghosts that reputedly roam the streets of Perugia, the 3000-year-old hilltop fort. From the day Meredith’s body was discovered on 2 November 2007, there is no doubt that Amanda Knox has been unfairly demonised because she is a young woman.

The sexualisation of females connected to big crimes is nothing new. Remember Joanna Lees, who was wrongly blamed for the death of her backpacker boyfriend Peter Falconio in Australia? Lees was falsely portrayed as being predatory and promiscuous.

Few newspaper readers realise that the nickname “Foxy Knoxy” was given to Amanda by her soccer pals when she was eight because of her fancy footwork on the pitch - not because she was promiscuous.

The book seems to make a lot of the DNA evidence (which it questions) but appears to be very thin on the 90% of the case that was not DNA-related.

Italy’s top forensics expert General Luciano Garofano, a co-author of Darkness Descending, believes that although the police did a good job there was “no smoking gun” that proved definitively who killed Meredith.

The Carabiniere officer said it was a pity that the police hadn’t unscrewed the handle of the murder weapon to look for more blood that often gathers in the grooves and recesses under the blade. His exclusive findings, published in the book, are surprising in that he talks down some of the best clues relied on by the prosecution.

Graham Johnson offers this backhanded compliment to the Italian system of justice - about which we have posted a lot to explain its real carefulness and fairness (for example here and here).

The differences between the Italian justice system and the British and American courts also led to misunderstanding, and often alarm. The closing speech of prosecuting magistrate Giuliano Mignini is a good example.

To the genuine surprise of the court, he changed key facts put forward at the beginning of the case. He moved the official time of the murder back an hour to about 2330 and modified the motive.

In Britain, for example, such dramatic changes are discouraged and both sides tend to base their arguments about “agreed facts” that have been decided in pre-trial hearings.

But in many ways, that’s the beauty of the Italian system. The court is there to establish the truth and not to trick witnesses.The judge irons out the mistakes of the prosecutor. The prosecutor keeps the police in check.

And, after whittling and sculpting their arguments down over a long period in court, they arrive at a story they’re happy with.

Arrive at a story they’re happy with? THAT is what the 19 judges including Judge Micheli who reviewed the evidence were up to? We think not. Johnson should actually read the Micheli report, an amazing piece of work.

It will be interesting to see if the authors - if they are even aware of it - try to explain away the very incriminating mobile phone evidence and Amanda Knox’s disastrous second day on the witness stand.

Graham Johnson concludes the BBC piece by saying he decided not to seek access to Meredith’s family to allow them to present their side of it because of…  his compassion for them.

Give us a break. This looks like a sleazy, biased and inaccurate quickie, and Graham Johnson seems to know it.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 01/12/10 at 08:36 PM in

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Ive ordered this publication from my local bookshop. When I have read it I’ll post an opinion. Having read the above I feel quite disapointed now, I was expecting a thoroughly good read. Anyhow time will tell.

Posted by derian on 01/12/10 at 10:26 PM | #

The website of Nina Burleigh (who I have met with and liked) says that her book on the case will not be out now until 2011 - presumably after John Follain’s.

Nina’s previous books are all excellent, serious, cool, very well researched, and a nice read.

Nina’s occasional reporting on the case from Perugia for Time seemed to us a little less grounded and balanced. She seemed a bit too wowed by Knox, and compassion for Meredith did not seem to be much on her mind.

Well, Nina does have a year or more to get this book right too.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 01/12/10 at 11:10 PM | #

So in other words these sleeze bags are going to make money off of Meredith’s death. I wonder how much the Knox’s and the other 2 are getting from it. I bet a million the Kercher’s will not see one penny of that money.

The judge or whoever is in charge of this case over there should of made it clear that any money or moneys made from this by movies,books etc should be granted to the Kerchers and the USA should also put a claus in there in this effect.

Do not buy these books to line their pockets when the only victem’s family will not be getting anything from them.

Lets show Meredith and her family a little dignity,
So far not once have they been shown any dignity or anything from the 3 that killed their daughter or sister.

Posted by jasmine1998 on 01/13/10 at 09:40 PM | #

I’ve read most of Darkness descending and I quite like it even though it does not contain that many new details of the case for those that have followed the case intensively. There were some errors in minor details, I think. That is, unless Perugia Murder or TJMK has reported those details incorrectly. There are other people commenting on PMF that also think Darkness Descending is a great book.

I find the book objective and impartial with Andrea Vogt having contributed and advice from Barbie Nadeau + access to Mignini, Maresca, Biscotti and Gentile. Pro-Amanda people probably say that with these people involved it cannot be impartial

Like I just stated in PMF, I became quite worried as to what will happen in the first appeal and in the Supreme Court as Garofano says that the Supreme Court has quashed sentences for less than what happened in this case, ie he was referring to the questioning of Amanda and Raffaelle as witnesses when in fact someone may say that they we questioned as “un-official” suspects with shoes taken from Raffaelle and holding them both in isolation. It would feel like a great injustice if they were released due to that kind of issue when they so clearly are guilty.

I also ordered the Follain book (sorry jasmine1998), it will arrive in 2-3 weeks says The third book (by King) I deemed too pro-Amanda and did not order it but I may change my mind later on: after all I think it’s wise to read a lot of accounts of the case, in that way you have a lot of material to build your own opinion of the case on.

I wish there was a way to get hold of the pretrial material (and preferably in English, too) or court transcripts (do Italian courts have stenographers?). I have read pre-trial investigative materials of a few Swedish court cases (á 2000 or 3000 pages per case containing usually a lot of photos but still a lot to read) available in the internet totally legally, and I think (as you probably would guess) that without that material one does not understand any court case properly, newspaper reports are not very extensive and reporters so often misunderstand information. As for this case, I have read only few articles without any misinformation or errors, which makes me view all newspaper reporting with serious doubt.

Anyway, thanks for starting and maintaining this site, Mr Quennell. I’ve been reading this for several months by now, and I think this is a brilliant site with lots of excellent posters and insight into the case.

Posted by Rumpole on 01/18/10 at 03:14 AM | #

I’ve finished darkness descending and I must admit I did enjoy or rather found it to be an informative read. I’m going to read it again though cos i tend to see things more clearly by doing so. I get the impression from this book that the investigations carried out by the police may have been conducted more effectively by the carabanieri. Seemingly the postal police had jurisdiction as they arrived at Via Pergola first. This is food for thought. I hear mumblings surfacing now that the appeal may go well for the two due to technicalities. I prey thats not true. To Rumpole What is the title of Follains’ book, so that I may too order it.

Posted by derian on 01/18/10 at 09:25 PM | #

John Follain’s book is still some months away. His publisher’s publicist told us that the book seemed to be worth doing really well rather than quickly and so its arrival is postponed to late in 2010.

Both John Follain and Nina Burleigh have written very serious well-researched books of record in the past that took them a great deal of time but really became the main record from then on. Their books will have the huge advantage of the judges’ report on the verdict which is due out any time in the next six weeks.

The post at top above criticized the Guardian article and not the book itself. The article still strikes us as silly but all reports now, like Rumpole’s and Derian’s above, are to the effect that this book really does get it right, and it does not undermine the verdict or disrespect Meredith or her family.

Reviews of the book for posting here would really be welcome (please email them) as some of us are still playing catchup after a very busy end of the year (really).

Jasmine, on the commercialization, we sympathize with you in a way. People HAVE been trying to make money out of Meredith’s cruel fate, and we have always been bitterly critical of that. It was always more on the apologists’ side though.

We believe Meredith’s family have always wanted a very clear, definitive record that shows that justice really was done here. We favor all the new books that respect the family and Meredith, and the fact that justice really has been done.

They are seriously needed, if this acrimonious debate which gives the family and friends no real peace is not to rattle on for another 26 years.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 01/18/10 at 09:59 PM | #

I’ve ordered john Follains book ‘Murder in Perugia’  on amazon. Its telling me that it will be delivered between 1st and 4th of February ? ?

Posted by derian on 01/20/10 at 07:37 PM | #

Hi Derian. John Follain’s definitive book will definitely be out at the end of this year.

Writers have told us Amazon seems to hate correcting dates. Hmmm. Did you actually make a payment? if yes that could explain it!

Posted by Peter Quennell on 01/20/10 at 10:54 PM | #

yes i did pay. looks like i’ve been tricked. thats not nice of them folk at Amazon.

Posted by derian on 01/21/10 at 01:38 AM | #

Well, I also reserved John Folan’s book with Amazon UK and I have been told that the book will be available early February. I suspect that is Amazon’s marketing ploy in trying to get me to keep the title on my buy list. I will probably get another message in early Feb’ saying now due early March. My experience with Amazon is that they don’t debit your account such time as they dispatch the product you have purchased.

Posted by james99 on 01/29/10 at 06:26 PM | #

I received another order update regarding Follain’s book today. informs me that their supplier has notified them that there is a delay obtaining stock. Really? That statement sounds as if the book actually exists but they cannot get enough copies to deliver Amazon their share of them. I suppose if what you wrote is true, Peter,  that is, that Mr Follain is waiting for the verdict, i.e. the judges’ report to include details of their reasoning into his book, there is no hope of getting his book anytime soon. In fact, I didn’t notice earlier that you mentioned that fact at all - I must have skipped that part last time. And now I feel a bit disappointed as I trusted Amazon’s promises more than your prediction that the book will be published quite late in 2010 (that part of your post I did notice last time). What does that mean actully? Does it mean sometime after the summer, during the latter half of the year? Autumn 2010? A bit disappointing, yes, but I guess it’s better that he does it properly and not like Mr King whose rushed book contains a lot of factual errors only in the six first pages that are viewable at Amazon UK.

Derian, Amazon co uk has not charged my credit card for Follain’s book because this was a pre-order book. My understanding is that they charge any pre-ordered books only when they deliver them. You can also cancel any pre-ordered book anytime shoud you wish to. I didn’t cancel Follain’s book although I was not that pleased to notice that Amazon sold the DD book at a higher price for me and probably all other pre-orderers as well than the price they were parading on their web site the day I received my copy of the book. Some pre-order guarantee!

Peter, can you point me to the right direction - where can I find “Nicki’s perfectly logical reasoning” (as someone stated on PMF, I think) as to why there was no DNA traces of AK in Meredith’s bedroom? I have been searching both sites, but I can’t find that particular post. I am just curious to read her take on that. Based on some other cases I’ve read about, I know that it’s not uncommon to have no DNA traces of the perpetrator even if the attack was a violent one. My understanding from other cases is that the amount of blood may mess up the DNA traces - if I’m not totally mistaken…

Posted by Rumpole on 02/14/10 at 07:25 AM | #
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