Lisa Belkin will discuss her book, Genealogy of a Murder, with Laurel S. Peterson. This new work unwraps a true crime story that took place in Connecticut in 1960.
Independence Day weekend, 1960: a young cop is murdered, shocking his close-knit community in Stamford, Connecticut. The killer remains at large, his identity still unknown. But on a beach not far away, a young Army doctor, on vacation from his post at a research lab in a maximum security prison, faces a chilling realization. He knows who the shooter is. In fact, the man — a prisoner out on parole — had called him only days before. By helping his former charge and trainee, the doctor, a believer in second chances, may have inadvertently helped set the murder into motion. And with that one phone call, may have sealed a policeman’s fate.
Alvin Tarlov, David Troy, and Joseph DeSalvo were all born of the Great Depression, all with grandparents who’d left different homelands for the same American Dream. How did one become a doctor, one a cop, and one a convict? In Genealogy of a Murder, Belkin traces the paths of each of these three men — one of them her stepfather. Her canvas is large, spanning the first half of the 20th century: immigration, the struggles of the working class, prison reform, medical experiments, politics and war, the nature/nurture debate, epigenetics, the infamous Leopold and Loeb case, and the history of motorcycle racing. It is also intimate: a look into the workings of the mind and heart.
Following these threads to their tragic outcome in July 1960, and beyond, Belkin examines the coincidences and choices that led to one fateful night. The result is a brilliantly researched, narratively ingenious story, which illuminates how we shape history even as we are shaped by it.
In case you missed the event, you may watch the recorded program here.
Community Partner: Norwalk Public Library
Lisa Belkin is an award-winning journalist and the author of narrative nonfiction books. Her career at The New York Times includes stints as a national correspondent, medical reporter, and contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine.
Laurel S. Peterson is a Professor of English at Norwalk Community College (NCC), where she teaches literature, creative and expository writing, and interdisciplinary courses in the arts; and advises the student literary magazine, Musings. Her work has been published in many small literary journals. She has two chapbooks, That’s the Way the Music Sounds and Talking to the Mirror and has written two mystery novels, Shadow Notes and The Fallen (Woodhall Press) and two full-length poetry collections of poetry, Do You Expect Your Art to Answer? and Daughter of Sky. She served as the town of Norwalk’s poet laureate from 2016 –2019 and currently serves on the Norwalk Public Library board.
A generational saga both exquisitely detailed and majestically sweeping.… This wonderful book by master storyteller Lisa Belkin carries the reader effortlessly along, revealing profound truths about the history of our country, the intertwined nature of our personal stories, and the forces — often hidden — driving our own lives, our own loves, our own times.Liza Mundy, author of Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II