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Monday, 8 December 2014

‘Homicide Miami: The Millionaire Killers’ by Peter Davidson

Published by Berkley,
8 August 2013.
ISBN: 978-0-42522-901-9

On May 24, 1995, in Miami, self-made millionaire Frank Griga and his girlfirend Krisztina Furton left their house in the company of Danny Lugo and Adrian Doorbal, young men representing themselves as agents for a mulit-million telecommunications company.   In fact they were the leaders of a gang who’d already kidnapped one millionaire and tortured him to give up his assets.  Griga and Furton were never seen alive again.

This detailed account of their murders and the subsequent trial begins with that last sight of the couple, then goes back to give us the background to the ‘Sun Gym gang’, their failed attempt to murder Marcelo Schiller, and the investigation which that sparked off.  It then narrates the deaths of Griga and Furton, the police investigation of their disappearance, the discovery of their bodies and the subsequent trial of the gang.  The book includes photos of the people involved. Knowing that they were caught makes the investigation section interesting rather than tense – even if you didn’t know the case, the introduction glosses the trial, and the photos include the police board beneath the chin.  Schiller’s experience put the Sun Gym gang right in the frame, so the police didn’t have to find a suspect; their work was centred on making sure they got the evidence.

This book is very good on reportage.  We’re given exact facts, dates , times, places and witness testimony from everyone involved in the case is used throughout.  Although there’s a general tabloid feel, with generous use of words like ‘love-nest’ and  phrases like ‘should have been a wonderful day’, the gruesome nature of the murders isn’t dwelt upon.  The detail on the course of the investigation is good, and the trial is followed in full, again using witness words.  A crime novelist would find this book a useful reference for procedure.

The author didn’t go into the psychology of the criminals, which I regretted.  I’d have liked to have had a pyschiatrist’s assessment of people who were simultaneously so cold-bloodedly ruthless and so incredibly inept. 

Homicide Miami:  The Millionaire Killers is a detailed and readable account of the crime that inspired the film Pain & Gain.
Reviewer: Marsali Taylor

Peter Davidson is an investigative reporter from South Florida. He is the author of Bones on the Beach,  Murder at Holy Cross, and Death By Cannibal

Marsali Taylor grew up near Edinburgh, and came to Shetland as a newly-qualified teacher. She is currently a part-time teacher on Shetland's scenic west side, living with her husband and two Shetland ponies. Marsali is a qualified STGA tourist-guide who is fascinated by history, and has published plays in Shetland's distinctive dialect, as well as a history of women's suffrage in Shetland. She's also a keen sailor who enjoys exploring in her own 8m yacht, and an active member of her local drama group.  Marsali also does a regular monthly column for the Mystery People e-zine.

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