The Fact of A Body

The Fact of A Body

A Murder and A Memoir

Large Print - 2017
Average Rating:
Rate this:

"A True Crime Masterpiece" - Vogue
Entertainment Weekly "Must" List
Real Simple's Best New Books

"This book is a marvel. The Fact of a Body is equal parts gripping and haunting and will leave you questioning whether any one story can hold the full truth." -- Celeste Ng, author of the New York Times bestselling Everything I Never Told You and Little Fires Everywhere

Before Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich begins a summer job at a law firm in Louisiana, working to help defend men accused of murder, she thinks her position is clear. The child of two lawyers, she is staunchly anti-death penalty. But the moment convicted murderer Ricky Langley's face flashes on the screen as she reviews old tapes--the moment she hears him speak of his crimes -- she is overcome with the feeling of wanting him to die. Shocked by her reaction, she digs deeper and deeper into the case. Despite their vastly different circumstances, something in his story is unsettlingly, uncannily familiar.

Crime, even the darkest and most unsayable acts, can happen to any one of us. As Alexandria pores over the facts of the murder, she finds herself thrust into the complicated narrative of Ricky's childhood. And by examining the details of Ricky's case, she is forced to face her own story, to unearth long-buried family secrets, and reckon with a past that colors her view of Ricky's crime.

But another surprise awaits: She wasn't the only one who saw her life in Ricky's.

An intellectual and emotional thriller that is also a different kind of murder mystery, THE FACT OF A BODY is a book not only about how the story of one crime was constructed -- but about how we grapple with our own personal histories. Along the way it tackles questions about the nature of forgiveness, and if a single narrative can ever really contain something as definitive as the truth. This groundbreaking, heart-stopping work, ten years in the making, shows how the law is more personal than we would like to believe -- and the truth more complicated, and powerful, than we could ever imagine.

Publisher: Farmington Hills, Mich. : Thorndike Press, 2017.
Edition: Large print edition.
ISBN: 9781432843557
Branch Call Number: LP 364.1523 Marza
Characteristics: 533 pages.


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Mar 01, 2018

This book is partially a memoir that deals with the sexual abuse the author endured as a child and partially about her investigation into another case where a pedophile has been imprisoned for the murder of a young boy. She tells both stories with tenderness and dignity for everyone involved, which makes this a difficult book to criticize. Unfortunately I must say I thought the book was weak in several ways. It was structurally messy, a bit drawn out in places and I didn't see a strong link between the two stories aside from the abuse. I do admire the way the author focused on the humanity of all those involved, even the offenders. The individual stories were interesting but the book just didn't work for me.

Feb 21, 2018

This book is both a memoir and a true crime story. I did not find that the two worked well together. It seemed to me that the author stretched to make the connections. In any case, a disturbing book and difficult read.

KateHillier Feb 19, 2018

As always it is very difficult to give a rating on someone relating their personal experience. This book is a hybrid of a true crime book and a memoir and it works very well. On one hand you learn about the case of Ricky Langley, a man convicted for the murder of a child. The author comes across his case as she goes through law school; she is a staunch opponent of the death penalty until she comes across his case. She is shocked at how much she wants him to die and how much his situation and crimes resonate with her own life. What follows is an investigation into her family and her life - and the crimes committed there.

It is both a fascinating and deeply upsetting read. I had to close the book several times to take a breath and sort through what I was reading. The author is incredibly brave and thorough with both Ricky's case and her own and it is presented emotionally while incredibly factually as well. It is an experience, and a trial, to read but the fact of this book being out in the world gives a record of the author's experiences as having actually happened. I hesitate to elaborate since the book jacket doesn't say much but tread carefully as this book deals with the death of a child and other terrible and unspeakable things done to children. It is, as already mentioned, incredibly difficult to read at points but it is an amazing piece of work that took a lot of time, effort, and strength to produce

CRRL_MegRaymond Nov 10, 2017

The author was against the death penalty - until she met a murderer and strongly wanted him dead. This reaction forced her to dig up family secrets of her own.

Oct 19, 2017

I had just checked out and then not bothered to read another "serial killer" book, and decided that I was sick of this genre, usually involving a woman who becomes interested in some particularly savage serial killer and then writes a book about trying to "understand" him.

This book is sort of like that but is a complete departure from that genre and is fascinating! It is different from any "true crime" novel I have ever read and, once started, is impossible to put down. Would highly recommend it.

Aug 21, 2017

One of the best books I've read this year. The author deftly parallels her own family history with a murder case that she has become obsessed with. As a lawyer, from a family of lawyers, she writes with a clear-headedness that is absent from most memoirs. If you are interested in true crime or memoir (or both!), this is a must read.

Jul 02, 2017

From the first page, this book pulled me right in. I have always liked true crime and this book is part true crime and part memoir.

The story is disturbing from covering a murdering pedophile to the author's sexual assault from her grandfather. I can see how this book may upset some readers.

RidnLibn Jun 04, 2017

A young law student works on a case to remove a convicted killer from Death Row. She realizes there are awful parallels between her life and that of the killer. The crimes are horrific. But Marzano-Lesnevich's meticulous research and gorgeous writing make this memoir a riveting read. "The Fact of a Body" is absolutely one of the best books of 2017. Not to be missed...

LPL_MeredithW May 06, 2017

"The Fact of a Body" almost defies description: it's a disturbing, moving, thought-provoking read that starts with a crime and widens in scope to consider how memory and experience shape who we are and how we exist in the world. There are passages in this book that made my stomach turn and other passages that made my heart ache, often in reference to the same people. This book isn't afraid to ask questions for which it doesn't have answers; it consciously refuses simple identification or definitions. It's not an easy read, and it's not going to be for everyone, but it's a richly rewarding meditation on truth and responsibility that I'll be carrying with me for a long time to come.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Subject Headings


Find it at APL

To Top