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The Count and the Confession by John Taylor

 

Rating: (Read if your interest is strong)

 

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Gothic

If The Count and the Confession were fiction, I would have laughed at the unbelievable characters and amazing plot. Since John Taylor’s book is non-fiction, it proves again that truth is stranger than fiction. You can find it all in this book: romance; intrigue; deception; murder; courtroom antics; suffering and redemption. Beverly Monroe finds her lover, Roger de la Burde, dead, and through a confession coerced from her, she’s convicted of murder and jailed. Burde was a con artist and exploiter of many women, and his death could have been suicide. Taylor lays out the story in a journalistic style, and allows readers to gather and assess information about the characters and come to our conclusions about what really happened.

Here’s an excerpt from the beginning of Chapter 3:

“Beverly Monroe had returned to work the week after the funeral. Her job required her to conduct state-of-the-art patent searches for research and development, to abstract the patents the scientists generated, to coordinate foreign patent applications, and to tract the patents claimed by competitors in the thick Official Gazette published every week by the U.S. Patent Office. Staying abreast of all the paperwork took organization and diligence. Beverly had only been gone a week and a half, but the patent abstracts were backing up, and she had to lay the groundwork for the semi-annual meeting between top New York executives and the research team leaders, where it was decided which foreign patent applications the company should make.
Going back to work was more difficult than Beverly had imagined. She wasn’t herself, and more than that, the whole world seemed different. It had an eerie, unfamiliar quality.
Dee Shannonhouse, her secretary. Was struck by the change in Beverly’s personality. Beverly seemed to find it difficult to talk. She would break down at every other sentence. She seemed so uncertain that she asked Dee to double-check her work. And her mind would drift. Dee would look up from her desk and see Beverly staring blankly at the wall, as if she didn’t know what she was doing.
And a lot of times Beverly didn’t. She would forget where she was. Her daily commute – from Old Gun Road to Robious Road to the Midlothian Turnpike and down around to the Philip Morris plant in south Richmond – had become confusing. Sometimes she forgot altogether that she was driving. She found herself talking to Roger. ‘Why’d you do this thing?’ she’d ask him. ‘Why did you do this?’ Roger seemed to be with her in the car, but he said nothing. She felt walled in by his silence. He was as still and unforthcoming as he had been that day she found him dead on the library couch – a memory so powerful that at times it threatened to obliterate all her other memories of him.”

The strange behavior of Burde, Monroe, and others can make reading The Count and the Confession somewhat interesting, in a morbid way. Taylor provides more than most readers would want to know about the characters and their behavior. These are people that you’ll be glad you don’t know. Unless your interest in true crime stories is strong, I suggest you take a pass.

Steve Hopkins, August 7, 2002

 

ă 2002 Hopkins and Company, LLC

 

The recommendation rating for this book appeared in the September 2002 issue of Executive Times

 

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