The Spider and the Fly: A Reporter, a Serial Killer, and the Meaning of Murder

spider and the fly

In 1998, police in Poughkeepsie, New York discovered the decomposing bodies of eight women in the home of Kendall Francois, a mild-mannered young man who lived with his father, mother, and sister.  At the time of Francois's arrest, journalist Claudia Rowe was living in the area and writing for The New York Times.  Determined to understand Francois's crimes and state of mind, Rowe began exchanging letters with him.  As she convinced him to share more about his life with her, their correspondence grew into a strange and often disturbing friendship.  The Spider and the Fly is a fascinating memoir about the journalistic drive to uncover the truth and the human desire to confront evil.

Note: trigger warning for descriptions of sexual assault.

"Residents here were professionals, doctors and academics living above well-trimmed lawns crowned with generous porches.  The Francois home, however, looked nothing like its neighbors.  A sickly mint green, it sat back from the sidewalk atop a few cracked steps, its windows opaque with dirt.  An enormous oak had grown into one of the side walls, and even crawling with investigators the house exuded a sense of isolation, as if trying to recede from view."

Claudia Rowe has written for The New York Times, The Stranger, The Seattle Times, Mother Jones, and the Huffington Post.  Her work has been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, and The Spider and the Fly is her first book.

Published:  2017
Length:  320 pages
Set in:  Poughkeepsie, New York, U.S.