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The Spider and the Fly

A Reporter, a Serial Killer, and the Meaning of Murder

About the Book

“Extraordinarily suspenseful and truly gut-wrenching. . . . A must-read.”Gillian Flynn, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Gone Girl

In this superb work of literary true crime—a spellbinding combination of memoir and psychological suspense—a female journalist chronicles her unusual connection with a convicted serial killer and her search to understand the darkness inside us.

"Well, well, Claudia. Can I call you Claudia? I’ll have to give it to you, when confronted at least you’re honest, as honest as any reporter. . . . You want to go into the depths of my mind and into my past. I want a peek into yours. It is only fair, isn’t it?"—Kendall Francois

In September 1998, young reporter Claudia Rowe was working as a stringer for the New York Times in Poughkeepsie, New York, when local police discovered the bodies of eight women stashed in the attic and basement of the small colonial home that Kendall Francois, a painfully polite twenty-seven-year-old community college student, shared with his parents and sister.

Growing up amid the safe, bourgeois affluence of New York City, Rowe had always been secretly fascinated by the darkness, and soon became obsessed with the story and with Francois. She was consumed with the desire to understand just how a man could abduct and strangle eight women—and how a family could live for two years, seemingly unaware, in a house with the victims’ rotting corpses. She also hoped to uncover what humanity, if any, a murderer could maintain in the wake of such monstrous evil.

Reaching out after Francois was arrested, Rowe and the serial killer began a dizzying four-year conversation about cruelty, compassion, and control; an unusual and provocative relationship that would eventually lead her to the abyss, forcing her to clearly see herself and her own past—and why she was drawn to danger.

Educator and Librarian Resources

Critical Praise

“Extraordinarily suspenseful and truly gut-wrenching, The Spider and the Fly is not just a superb true-crime story but an insightful investigation of the nature of evil, the fragility of good, and the crooked road that can turn human beings into monsters. A must-read.” —GILLIAN FLYNN, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Gone Girl

“Part psychological thriller and part gut-wrenching memoir, The Spider and the Fly crosses boundaries on nearly every page. It is chilling, self-revelatory, and unforgettable.” —ROBERT KOLKER, author of the New York Times bestseller Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery

“Claudia Rowe catalogues her obsession with a serial killer so mesmerizingly that before I knew it, I too was obsessed...But this is not merely a recounting of a descent, it is equally a memoir of discovery through the lens of potential evil. I literally could not put it down.” —Alan Cumming, author of the New York Times bestseller Not My Father's Son

“Rowe’s engaging prose means the pages practically turn themselves.” —Kirkus

“Readers seeking a literary look at the psychology of a criminal will find much to hold them rapt.” —Booklist

Product Details

  • ISBN: 9780062416124
  • ISBN 10: 006241612X
  • Imprint: Dey Street Books
  • On Sale: 01/24/2017
  • Pages: 288
  • List Price: 33.50 CAD
  • BISAC1: TRUE CRIME / Murder / Serial Killers
  • BISAC2: BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Personal Memoirs

The Spider and the Fly by Claudia Rowe

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