While the City Slept: A Love Lost to Violence and a Young Man’s Descent into Madness

Eli Sanders. Viking, $27.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-670-01571-9
A killing spotlights the inadequacy of America’s mental health system in this gripping true-crime saga. Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Sanders explores Isaiah Kalebu’s 2009 assault of Theresa Butz and Jennifer Hopper, who were engaged to be married, in their Seattle home. An ordeal of rape and bloodshed lead to Butz’s death. Sanders sketches a moving portrait of the victims and then focuses on the dark odyssey of their attacker, the son of a Ugandan immigrant who inherited mental illness on his mother’s side and grew up in a household rocked by domestic violence. Kalebu spiraled into violent psychosis: he attacked his mother and once walked into a random business office, announced he was an African king, and fired the staff. The real villains, in Sanders’s telling, are Washington State’s courts and mental health system, which were hamstrung by budget cuts and failed to treat or control Kalebu’s worsening behavior. Drawing on interviews with principal figures and their families, Sanders’s meticulous narrative gives full weight to Kalebu’s crime while elucidating the human tragedy that sparked it, forming a disturbing indictment of society’s neglect of the mentally ill. Agent: Bill Clegg, Clegg Agency. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 11/02/2015
Release date: 02/02/2016
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-0-14-310951-8
Ebook - 336 pages - 978-1-101-63467-7
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio

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