Reviewed by Claudia Robinson

“Her steel eyes keep looking at me as if they’re searching for my approval-like she wants to know if I believe her. Fuck, I do not believe any of this shit, including her. Right then, I know. I know she has something to do with this. I can’t look at her or the flashing lights shining in through the windows.” Dean Smart, after the murder of his brother, Gregg in Skylights and Screen Doors.

On May 1, 1990, 24-year-old Gregg Smart, an Insurance Agent in Derry, NH, and husband of Pamela Smart, became the victim of one the most scandalous love/crime stories of the 20th century. In an attempt to sustain a relationship with a 15-year-old student, and not lose custody of her dog, or apartment in a divorce, Pamela conspired with her young lover to murder her husband. What followed, was the most sensational murder trial in New Hampshire history. Pamela was eventually convicted of murder-conspiracy and being an accomplice to murder and was sentenced to automatic life without parole at Bedford Hills correctional facility in Westchester County, NY.

Skylights and Screen Doors is a memoir written by Dean, Gregg’s younger brother, about life before the murder in the Smart house and the happenstances leading up to the fateful day of Gregg’s murder. Written in a very personal manner, Skylights and Screen Doors offers an intimate glimpse in to the idyllic life of an American family, their bonds, their love and the tragedy and loss of a beloved and idolized older brother and son. I can’t imagine the courage that it took, and the emotional impact it must have had on Dean to write this book. Insightful, sad, and bittersweet, it’s a great inside view of a family and the devastation caused at the hand of a very sick and deluded woman.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t get in to it, despite being interested. It was written in an infantile manner that distracted me from the story. Jagged and fragmented, it read more like a personal diary than a memoir. I gave it my best shot, because having lost a sibling, too, I understand the slice of pain an untimely death can wield, but there wasn’t a flow, or consistency in the writing style, rendering it immature and annoying, rather than informative and enlightening.

As a ‘book’, Skylights and Screen Doors isn’t good reading, at all. As a insider source of a family’s pain, trials and tribulations, it’s alright, at best. The final presentation to the public, in my opinion, should have been more polished and fine tuned. I, do however, want to state for the record, that I applaud and commend Dean for putting his thoughts and feelings to paper and shedding light on such a private matter. I hope the journey this book took him on was therapeutic and will have served to heal some of his wounds.

Rating: 2/5

Claudia lives on beautiful Cape Cod with her husband and two children.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Author Marketing Experts. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.