The Fact of a Body: A Murder and A Memoir – Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich

Law student Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich, working on a retrial for death-row convicted murderer and child molester, Ricky Langley, finds herself thrust into the tangled story of his childhood. As she examines the minute details of Ricky’s case, she is forced to face her own history, to unearth long-buried family secrets, and to reckon with how her own past colours her view of his crime.

When Alexandria begins a summer job at a law firm in Louisiana, and sees Ricky’s face flash on the screen as she reviews old tapes, and 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, realizing that despite their vastly different circumstances, something in his story is unsettlingly, uncannily familiar.

As enthralling as true-crime classics such as In Cold Blood and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and broadcast phenomena such as The Keepers, Making a Murderer and Serial, The Fact of a Body is a groundbreaking, heart-stopping investigation into how the law is personal, composed of individual stories and proof that arriving at the truth is more complicated, and powerful, than we could ever imagine.

My Review: The Fact of A Body is a powerful and often deeply disturbing memoir of  the authors experience as a young lawyer facing her own private and personal demons when she gets involved with convicted child killer and paedophile Ricky Langley’s appeal as a summer intern.

This is two exceptional stories within one book, both of which are so uncomfortable at times I had to stop reading and thinks about bunny rabbits and kittens.  The fact that we know this story is a true account makes it even more painful and raw to read.

Whilst the book is only 382 pages long, towards the end of the book (after 65%) it did begin to drag for me personally.  There is absolute no doubt she is a very talented writer and is able to bring these horrific events to life and directly into the readers imagination and has a very important story to tell. If you are a fan of true crime or memoirs then you will enjoy this.

About the Author: Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich is a 2014 National Endowment for the Arts Fellow in creative writing, an award given for her work on The Fact of a Body. Other honours in support of this, her first book, include a Rona Jaffe Award, a scholarship to the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, as well as fellowships to the MacDowell Colony, Millay Colony for the Arts, Blue Mountain Center and Yaddo. Her essays and short fiction have appeared in the New York Times, Oxford American, Salon and the anthology True Crime. She has a JD from Harvard, an MFA from Emerson and a BA from Columbia University. Alexandria currently lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she teaches memoir writing at Grub Street and teaches graduate public policy students at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

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