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And the Sea Will Tell by Vincent Bugliosi

And the Sea Will Tell (1991)

by Vincent Bugliosi

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Bugliosi tells this story with such passion, that it keeps you turning the pages - I read this book in 3 days ... Complete page turner, keeps you interested until the very end ... Amazing how these "free spirits" could get away with so much, who you choose to believe, is up to you ... ( )
  KPhotoWrtr2 | Sep 12, 2017 |
this is a true story and is a movie ( )
  KimSalyers | Oct 2, 2016 |
this is a true story and is a movie ( )
  KimSalyers | Oct 1, 2016 |
This is another true story by the author of 'Helter Skelter' (which I have not read). It's an intresting story written colorfully and well. The characters are developed so as you have the impression of actually knowing them persoanlly. But beware, the primary author, Bugliosi, is a bit full of himself. ( )
  trek520 | Dec 7, 2015 |
This book and the case it is about is absolutely fascinating. I read a lot of True Crime, and this is one of my favorite books from the genre- it would be perfect, save for one thing: Buglioso's incredible ego.

And the Sea Will Tell is a two part book: the first half is the story of the crime. A brief recap:

Buck Walker (aka Wesley G. Walker) and Stephanie Stearns (referred to as "Jennifer Jenkins" in the book), are two quasi-hippies, involved in a relationship and living in Hawaii. Buck was a career criminal, known for violence, but supposedly highly charismatic and extremely intelligent. At 36, Buck has already served time for Armed Robbery, and for distribution of MDA, the latter of which he was on parole for. Stephanie came from a middle class family, and had a relatively good life. She was pretty, easy going, peace loving and by all accounts a “good girl”. The two met in HA, and Stephanie quickly fell for Buck, who she saw as gruff, but also had a good side (she was alone in this opinion).

Buck somehow got caught up in another MDMA distribution case, after attempting to sell to someone undercover; the prospect of violating his parole and being sent back to prison for a potential life sentence motivating him into buying a poorly kept, mastless, unrigged boat with an unlucky history, which he intended to rehab and use to sail he and Stephanie off the island. Their destination was a little known atoll known as Palmyra. Palmyra also has a history of being unlucky- several deaths, ships damaged and sunk after coming too close to the atoll's invisible coral reefs, and a lagoon thick with small but aggressive reef sharks and poisonous fish, have given Palmyra a mysterious, spooky aura. This has only been compounded by the foreboding feeling reported by many visitors. The island had been occupied by the US Navy for many years, until the station was demolished after WWII, and its ownership once again privatized. The Navy left behind bunkers and a skeleton crews worth of equipment, which also added an eery quality, but many looked at it as a salvagers paradise. In addition to the treasure trove of Navy remnants, legend claims an actual one was buried there by a pirate some centuries ago.

Because the island is private, small, and notoriously difficult to dock or fly to, Buck thought it was the perfect place to escape fro the law, and he and Stephanie set about repairing their newly acquired aquatic jalopy. While their boar was made eventually made somewhat seaworthy, it was clear from the beginning neither of the two were aware or properly outfitted for life on a small island, far from civilization.

At the same time, another couple- Malcolm "Mac" Graham and Eleanor "Muff" Graham, were embarking for Palmyra as well, but aboard an incredible sailboat called the Sea Wind. It was Mac's pride and joy, and a remarkably impressive sight to behold, made even more desirable by Muff's efforts to decorate, and to stock the boat with every possible need they might have while there.

Ultimately, there is a disappearance, and presumably murder. Stephanie and Buck were accused; arrested, and a trial begins. Eventually, at least one murder is proven to have taken place.

The first half of the book tells that story, in a vivid, fascinating, and un-put-downable fashion. I was completely hooked, and read through it within a day and a half, b/c I just couldn't put it down. I don't know if it's just that the story itself is so fantastic that it beggars belief, or if the writing was just superb- probably a combination of both- but it left a void after I was done with it, that no other book could come close to filling.

The problem is the second half of the book, which covers everything from the point of Stephanie and Buck's arrest, up to the end of the trials. Bugliosi is hired to represent Stephanie, who somehow managed, in my opinion, to hoodwink Bugliosi. This is relevant, b/c Bugliosi spends the first quarter of the second part explaining why he never takes on a guilty client, how he determines if a potential client is guilty, his ambivalence about Stephanie Jenkin's possible guilt/innocence, and finally his decision to represent her, b/c he considers her innocent, despite having every red flag and obvious clues point out the opposite.

I won't get into the guilt/innocent issue though- that's for you to find hen you read the book. But I really could have done without the second part. I don't really like it when an author inserts himself in the story, and in Bugliosi's case, he can't help inserting himself- to the point that I started thinking they should have called the book “Why Vincent Bugliosi is so brilliant, and some other people who got murdered”. Bugliosi loves himself. Majorly.

He is a smart man, and has written several books about his career, which is, by all accounts, also impressive. But the second half- the trial, mainly- could have easily been cut down and inserted into the first part, cleanly, and made it much more readable. I had to force myself to finish the second part, b/ it just went on, and on, and on some more. I got so frustrated with it, b/c here’s this guy who is supposedly pretty bright, and by his count, absolutely brilliant, yet he has no idea this woman was probably the mastermind behind all this? And even if she wasn't, she clearly played a bigger part, and whatever her involvement, she isn't honest about it. That makes her guilt even more plausible. That, and the fact that Bugliosi thinks himself so incredibly fascinating that he tells you so, a hundred ways, and pats himself on the back through out the thing.

They really are like two different books, entirely.

The first part is written in third person, and really, it could have been a novel. It's obviously Bugliosi's take on Stephanie Jenkin's version of what happened, and it's damn good- but I do have questions about the ethics of writing a true crime story and events no one can confirm or deny. It had the makings of a really good novel, and perhaps they should have just taken it in that direction. I know there is a movie based on the book, but I've yet to find a copy for a reasonable price.

If you enjoy true crime, sailing, mystery islands, or anything spooky, you'll enjoy this. Even for just the first part, it's well worth the money, and the story still sticks in my mind. I actually had to take a break from true crime after this one, b/c everything I read after was no where near as interesting. An excellent and gripping book. ( )
1 vote SparrowByTheRailStar | Apr 25, 2014 |
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A ocean is forever asking questions,
And writing them aloud along the shore.
- Edwin Arlington Robinson
To my mother:
No sweeter or more wonderful
woman ever lived.
First words
At once beautiful and forbidding, this uninhabited tropical atoll is off the well-traveled path of the trade winds.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0393327965, Paperback)

And the Sea Will Tell spins a riveting story--a story that could have been the backbone for a classic novel by Herman Melville or Joseph Conrad. Two couples--one wealthy and married, the other an ex-con and his hippie girlfriend-- separately set sail for a remote South Pacific island, each hoping to play "Adam and Eve" in paradise. Instead of getting away from it all, they take it with them-- their pasts and prejudices, and the petty battles over status and material goods that arise from their different social classes. Only two people out of the original four live through the experience. One of them has the extraordinary good luck to be defended in court by master attorney Vincent Bugliosi (author of Helter Skelter). As the Los Angeles Times writes, "The book succeeds on all counts. The final pages are some of the most suspenseful in trial literature."

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:52 -0400)

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When a newlywed woman finds a scorched skull on a tiny island in the South Pacific, it begins a murder investigation full of conflicting details and puzzling complexities. Vincent Bugliosi reconstructs the events that led to the murder.

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W.W. Norton

An edition of this book was published by W.W. Norton.

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