Books > Sympathy for the devil

14 June 2017 | by Anthony Gardner

Sympathy for the devil


The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir

(MACMILLAN, 336 PP, £20)
Tablet bookshop price £18 • tel 01420 592974

For those who believe that God is dead, child protection is perhaps the nearest thing to a religion that the twenty-first century offers. In a world of moral half-tones, it offers a blessedly black-and-white scenario. Abusers are unalloyed evil; the rest, whatever their faults, can take comfort in the knowledge that they have never sunk so low.

The Fact of a Body examines a true crime which seems at first to be equally clear-cut. In 1992, six-year-old Jeremy Guillory was murdered in Louisiana; his body was found in a room rented by Ricky Langley, a convicted paedophile. Langley confessed to the killing and was sentenced to death – but, as this ­brilliant and thought-provoking book ­emphasises, nothing is quite that simple.


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