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“A must-read for anyone who is fascinated by the psychology of crime.”

– Whitney Spotts, Schuler Books & Music




On the other side of the glass I heard keys turning inside a heavy lock, the sound of an unchangeable moment. I couldn’t quite believe this was happening. To that point, corresponding with Kendall had been a game, a dare I’d set myself, something separate from my real life. Our letters, no matter how tortuous, provided a comforting distance. I could craft the person Kendall saw – be the authoritarian interviewer or show sensitive vulnerability – whatever I thought might draw him out. The phone calls were harder; it felt like Kendall could hear my heart pounding through the silences. Still, there had been the safety of my home, the knowledge that he couldn’t see me biting my lip, scribbling notes. Now we would be looking into each other’s eyes. I froze as the door swung open, my mind paralyzed like a mouse beneath the claws of a descending owl.

“Extraordinarily suspenseful and truly gut-wrenching, The Spider and the Fly is not just a superb true-crime story but an insightful investigation of the nature of evil, the fragility of good, and the crooked road that can turn human beings into monsters. A must-read.”
- Gillian Flynn, author of Gone Girl

“Part psychological thriller and part gut-wrenching memoir, The Spider and the Fly by Claudia Rowe crosses boundaries on nearly every page. It is chilling, self-revelatory, and unforgettable.”
- Robert Kolker, author of Lost Girls

“This book astounded me. Claudia Rowe catalogues her obsession with a serial killer so mesmerizingly that before I knew it, I too was obsessed….But this is not merely a recounting of a descent, it is equally a memoir of discovery through the lens of potential evil. I literally could not put it down.”
- Alan Cumming, actor and author

“I missed a subway stop because I was so enthralled with this vexing book. Claudia Rowe is a supremely gifted writer, and the story of her near-obsession with a man who murdered at least eight women is both a riveting true crime saga and a brave self-portrait.”
- Julia Dahl, author of “Invisible City”


“The Spider and the Fly brings Ann Rule’s account of working with Ted Bundy, The Stranger Beside Me, to mind. That is a high compliment….readers who are interested in deeper conversations than a childlike fantasia of good versus evil will find sentences of this book echoing around in their brain for weeks afterward. So much of this book is dedicated to big concepts: the idea of forgiveness, the question of whether it’s possible to change, the thought that if one of us commits a preventable heinous act that maybe we all carry a little bit of that stain on our souls.”  -Seattle Review of Books

“Part psychological thriller, part memoir, Rowe’s provocative narrative forces you to explore and find compassion for the complexity of the human condition….raw, honest, compelling and staggeringly beautiful.” -International Thriller Writers

“The Spider and the Fly is a work of personal exploration, as much about Rowe’s growth as an individual as it is about Francois’s crimes. The reflective tone and dogged probing into the ugliest of human behaviors enrich this blend of true crime, memoir and suspense.” -Shelf Awareness

“Rowe’s engaging prose means the pages practically turn themselves” -Kirkus

“Readers who wonder what draws writers to grisly crimes will find insight here. The interwoven stories of author and subject will appeal to both true crime and memoir readers. -Library Journal

Readers seeking a literary look at the psychology of a criminal will find much to hold them rapt. -Booklist

“Her writing does commend a round of applause as it does a magnificent job in installing an eerie and suffocating atmosphere….With a beautiful in-depth analysis of the journalists past and self, The Spider and the Fly is an exploration of a provocative and dangerous relationship between Claudia Rowe and Kendall Francois. …This combination of memoir and true crime is a thrilling and excellent piece that portrays the ugly in all its raw form. The best part of this book is not about getting the answers to the questions we ask. It’s about the process of hunting for answers and all the enlightenment that you get from it.” -bookidote

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The Stranger