Genres: Nonfiction, Biography, True Crime
The Fact of a Body is the true story of the murder of little Jeremy by Ricky Langley, a strange young man who’s a convicted pedophile. It merges with the story of the author, who was an intern in the law firm working on Langley’s defense after the first trial, which sentenced him to death. Alex is strongly against the death penalty her whole life, but finds herself struggling with her own history. For the first time, she wants a man dead.
This was a difficult book to get through at times, in the sense that the theme of child abuse (especially molestation) is so very recurrent and graphic. This made me wince and felt quite heavy to read about. I considered putting it down several times, but in the end I was entranced by the story and wanted to see where it was going. If you hate open endings, maybe skip this one – it’s not that it leaves you in a frustrating note, but it leaves margin for interpretation and I didn’t really know what to make of Ricky Langley in the end. Not a good person, that is for SURE. But how much of what he did or said was true, we might never know.
The biggest triumph of this book is its power of making you think about what is true, where a story begins, how much do we really know about each other, and how we make decisions based on our own bias and histories instead of cold, hard fact. I got myself immediately making assumptions about Ricky that I had to rethink afterwards, because I simply had no reason to think that way except my own prejudices.
This is not a quick whodunit to read lightly – it’s a fast read for sure, but I had to put it down a few times when it just got too much. I am glad I picked up this book, it was eye-opening.