The story of Catherine “Kitty” Genovese has always been an interesting story to me. All murders are shocking, but something about THIS one really hit home with everyone who heard about it. We all know the story – Kitty was stabbed to death outside of her apartment building in Kew Gardens (a neighborhood in Queens, New York) back on March 13, 1964. It happened around 3am and, according to the papers, 38 people (neighbors who also lived in this building) heard her screams and did nothing.
Author Kevin Cook, after researching this event to great lengths (including talking to these neighbors, people who knew her, and her girlfriend) has written Kitty Genovese: The Murder, the Bystanders, the Crime That Changed America, a very thorough account of her murder and subsequent events (not just surrounding the murder, but how the city – and life – changed because of it). He tells of her early years, of her life with Mary Ann, and of life in general at the time the murder takes place. He even delves into the life of convicted murderer, Winston Moseley, about his life growing up and what he had done before Kitty’s murder, as well as his court case, his escape from prison and his attempts to be released.
The most interesting part (to me) was his in-depth research into the “myth” of the case to find out what actually happened on that night and things that went on to happen because of this brutal and heart-breaking event. I was also interested in what he said about the way this murder has been used in books, music, movies and TV since, including the homoly at the beginning of one of my favorite movies, Boondocks Saints.
Mr. Cook believes that the story – the myth – “did a disservice to Kew Gardens” because, as he says towards the end of the book, this could have happened anywhere and because what people believe to be true isn’t what actually happened. Through his research, he found out that many things that were reported in the news were not necessarily the truth, that facts were left out. The big things that he hits on in this book are the amount of “witnesses,” how many times she was attacked, what people could actually see from their homes and that no one called the police.
Because of Kitty’s murder, studies have been done on people’s willingness to call 911 (the bystander effect) and helped get three barely-exisiting fields of psychology moving (urban psychology, social psychology, and the study of pro-social behavior). Other things that stemmed from this event were: more lighting in the area, the 911 system, good samaritan/duty to aid laws, and victim and assistance programs were put into effect. He discusses these things in his book.
I was given the opportunity to listen to the audio book, narrated by Stephen Hoye, and I must say that he did a very good job at it. I have tended to stay away from audio books because I get sidetracked easily, but here lately I’ve been giving them a second-chance. Mr. Hoye not only kept my attention, but really put the emotion and events across in a way that I feel did the book justice.
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is interested in real-life murder and mystery.
You can find Meghan (that’s Meghan spelled the right way) over on her book-ish blog The Gal in the Blue Mask. She’s an avid reader, a book editor, a story teller, a purveyor of delectable fare and pulchritudinous confections, and the best aunt in the world. She loves gardening, hiking, cooking and spending time at the zoo, library and museums. She may not be able to find her wallet, car keys or sunglasses, but she always knows where her Kindle is.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Audible.com. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.