cover image Saint Of Circumstance

Saint Of Circumstance

Sheila Weller. Pocket Books, $24 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-671-01437-7

Convicted rapist Alex Kelly lived on the lam at various European ski resorts for eight years before coming home to stand trial in super-affluent Darien, Conn., just a short train ride from Manhattan. Here, Weller, author of several check-out-counter sensations (including Amy Fisher: My Story and Raging Heart, which details O.J. Simpson's marriage to Nicole Brown), indicts Darien for community-wide misogyny and insular secretiveness that worked, she says, to aid and abet Kelly's criminal activity and eventual flight. Weller reports on allegations that Kelly's crimes have included a series of drug sales and domestic burglaries, as well as a string of rapes and attempted rapes that occurred prior to the rape for which he was ultimately convicted. Weller seems to have gone to great lengths in gathering her evidence, and her passionate delivery quickly stirs the book to life. The details of the police and FBI investigations, Kelly's arrest, his exodus in 1987 when faced with a double rape trial and his life abroad are juxtaposed with descriptions of the fear experienced by his one proven rape victim that he could be lurking in any corner. Weller brings formidable insight to the psyches of those involved, particularly to a convincing portrait of the Kelly family dynamic--including a violent, domineering father and a passive, almost nonexistent mother--that may have been the genesis of Kelly's criminal behavior and apparent feelings of invincibility. While Weller seems to believe fervently that Kelly is a serial rapist, she tempers her accusations when necessary. The result is a smart, gripping ride down a very slippery slope of crime and deception. (Dec.)