2011.49 REVIEW – Portrait of a Monster by Lisa Pulitzer & Cole Thompson

Portrait of a Monster: Joran van der Sloot, a Murder in Peru, and the Natalee Holloway Mystery
by Lisa Pulitzer & Cole Thompson

Copyright: 2011
Pages: 267
Rating: 45
Read: Aug 28– Sept. 1, 2011
Challenge: No challenge
Yearly Count: 49
Format: Print
Source: Library Book

Blurb: In May 2005, Natalee Holloway disappeared from a high school trip to Aruba. Five years to the day later, twenty-one-year-old Stephany Flores was reported missing in Lima, Peru. Implicated in both crimes was one young man: Joran van der Sloot. A twenty-three-year-old Dutchman, Van der Sloot has become the subject of intense scrutiny by the media and the public in the years since 2005. He was arrested and detained by Aruban authorities in connection with the Holloway disappearance, only to be released after questioning. In 2008, during a Dutch sting operation, he admitted to being present for Holloway’s death – but later recanted his statement. In 2010, on the five-year anniversary of her disappearance, a young business student in Peru named Stephany Flores disappeared, only to be found dead three days later in a hotel room – registered to Van der Sloot. He was arrested for the murder and confessed, but he later claimed he was coerced. This is the first book to offer a probing look at the man tied to two of the most sensational cases of the decades. Portrait of a Monster offers an unflinching look into the workings of fan international manhunt and a chilling portrait of an alleged killer.

Review: I should preface this review with the fact that this will not read like my normal reviews. The subject matter at hand speaks to me in a way I can’t describe. I am of the opinion that Joran van der Sloot is a murderer. If you disagree with this, I am sorry but we will have to agree to disagree. I will not argue my opinion of Joran in the comment section and should I be attacked for my personal opinion regarding Mr. Van der Sloot (as I have been in previous reviews of other true crime books), I will delete any comments of that nature and will close the comment section completely.

I used to be a true crime junkie. I was obsessed with CourtTV and wouldn’t miss a single night of Nancy Grace’s show. I remember the Natalee Holloway case very well. I was in college at the time and was just in shock and awe at the entire situation. I honestly couldn’t believe that so many parents had allowed their children to go to a foreign country with so few chaperones. My parents would have never allowed it for me. Then I couldn’t believe how incredibly stupid and naive Natalee and her friends seemed to be. I understand that they were drinking, but where was the buddy system? They were in a foreign country, they were young, they were drinking, they should have never let Natalee go off by herself with a stranger. Or even if they couldn’t have stopped her, they should have immediately reported it to one of the chaperones. But once I took one look at Joran van der Sloot, I understood. He looked just like them. He looked like your average teenager. He was tall and good looking, he certainly would have caught my attention. He didn’t look evil. But then again … looks can be deceiving.

Fast forward five years. By this time I’m out of college and happily married. Then I hear on the news a name I remembered all too well: Joran van der Sloot. I absolutely could not believe that he was making the news again in connection with a young woman. But this time he made a big mistake: there was a body. Stephany Flores was another beautiful young woman who just happened to have the unfortunate luck of meeting Joran van der Sloot. Needless to say, I’ve always been intrigued by Joran van der Sloot and the Natalee Holloway case. But I really couldn’t believe it when he made the news a second time. He had seemingly fallen of the face of the planet, I always assumed he had moved on and dropped out of sight. Boy was I wrong.

This book was immediately intriguing to me just because of my fascination with Van der Sloot. In alternating chapters, the authors describe what unfolded in the Holloway and Flores cases. There were a lot of interesting tidbits included about Joran that I had no previous knowledge about. Some of the information that I had heard in the media was in direct conflict with what was reported in this book, so some serious questions have arisen in my mind as to certain aspects of both cases. I think I would have preferred this book to include a little more psychological analysis into the mind of Joran than what was included. They brought up numerous points that could have been explored, but this book didn’t examine those. To me, the lack of serious psychological analysis definitely makes the title of this book seem deceiving. To use the term “Portrait” and after reading the blurb, I was expecting more of a psychological book than what this turned out to be. Now, that in no way means that I didn’t like this book. I certainly did. And I definitely feel as if the authors offer a very good look into the two cases and how they unfolded. But seriously, Joran van der Sloot was the last person to be seen with two young women in presumably their last few hours of life, separated by five years to the day … you can’t tell me that there’s not something to that. Dates are important to people, and I think that the authors really could have explored that aspect of these two cases. Maybe someone else will sometime down the road; I definitely feel as if it would be interesting to analyze the psychology regarding the dates. Either way, it definitely makes me wonder what would happen if Joran van der Sloot was out of prison on May 30, 2015.

I will end this by saying that as I was in the middle of writing this review, I saw a tweet from Vinnie Politan (@VinniePolitan) that Joran van der Sloot has been officially charged with the murder and robbery of Stephany Flores in Peru.

Maybe Peru will finally get it right and we won’t have to hear about Mr. Van der Sloot and any other young women.

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2 thoughts on “2011.49 REVIEW – Portrait of a Monster by Lisa Pulitzer & Cole Thompson

  1. Thanks for the great review. We did not do more of a psychological portrait because neither my co-author Cole Thompson nor I have qualifications in that field. But we tried to paint a portrait of Joran that will help readers come to their own conclusions, and it sounds like you did!

    Thanks for reading.

  2. I’m honored to have you stop by my blog! I saw Mr. Thompson on HLN the other day discussing the case. And I was watching some of the coverage of the sentencing today. I have very strong opinions on Joran Van der Sloot, as do a lot of people. Thank YOU for writing this book 🙂

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