Their name comes from the French detective Vidocq, the man who pioneered scientific investigation into crimes. His exploits inspired Edgar Allan Poe to create Auguste Dupin which, in turn, inspired Arthur Conan Doyle to create Sherlock Holmes.
Though I found the overall narrative of this frustrating, as it jumps forward and backward in time, this is an incredibly involving and well-written story. I took it on my Cape Cod vacation and not only could I not put it down until I’d finished, my husband also started reading it and had to finish as well.
This is due not just to the subject matter but also to author Michael Capuzzo‘s extraordinary skill in making the the detectives, victims, survivors and the crime scenes come alive.
He draws incredibly compelling portraits of everyone in the book, with a special focus on three men: William Fleisher, former FBI Special Agent and President of the Vidocq Society, Frank Bender, the world’s foremost foresic sculptor, and Richard Walter, a world-renowned expert criminal profiler.
Possibly the most famous of the cold cases that they helped solve is the murder of the List family by their patriarch, John List, but that’s only one crime among many detailed in this book.
After reading it, some of the cases haunted me — such as the boy found in a cardboard box — and so did the detectives, most of whom have given up large chunks of their lives to their cause. If you love mysteries of any sort, and learning about how crimes are solved and the people dedicated to solving them, you will want this book.
Capuzzo has scheduled author appearances in October and November in Pennsylvania. The information can be found at his website.