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A Deadly Game: The Untold Story of the Scott Peterson Investigation


A Deadly Game: The Untold Story of the Scott Peterson Investigation

Catherine Crier with Cole Thompson

The most important purpose of A DEADLY GAME: The Untold Story of
the Scott Peterson Investigation, by Catherine Crier (with Cole
Thompson, her associate), is "not merely to chronicle the events
that this unforgettable case comprises. It is to take an intimate
look at the character and psychology of a man convicted of the most
heinous crimes --- the murders of his wife and his unborn son....
Many participants [gave them] in-depth interviews, often sharing
with [them] stories that never made the news or reached the
jury.... [Crier is] intimately familiar with our criminal justice
system, having served as a prosecutor and judge and now a
journalist. It is rare to obtain the kind of access that gives rise
to such an in-depth look at an investigation and trial." She and
Thompson "have also had access to previously unseen police and
Justice Department records, photographs, audiotapes, and forensic
reports, all of which contributed to the detailed account" that is
at the heart of this extremely cogent analysis of the most
publicized murder case in the U.S. since the O.J. Simpson

"Ever since Laci Peterson disappeared on December 24, 2002, and the
public became galvanized by the story, people have asked …
Why? Why was there so much interest in this single murder
case? Why did it sustain our attention for so long? Women --- even
lovely, very pregnant women --- go missing all too often in this
country, and many of them are murdered. In fact, statistics show
that homicide is the leading cause of death for pregnant women. And
these deaths … are usually the work of the person the woman
loves and trusts most --- the father of her child." In this case
that person would be Scott Peterson. Ironically, Crier "learned
that it was one of Scott's parents, either Jackie or Lee, who had
alerted the national media to the story through a connection with
the Associated Press. [She believes] that Scott never expected the
media attention that the case drew. [She thinks that] he also
miscalculated the abilities of the 270 member MPD. He probably
thought some small town cops on Christmas Eve were no match for
him, and expected the story to disappear rapidly from the news when
Laci's body could not be found. If so, Scott Peterson chose the
wrong small-town cops. The MPD has a 90% homicide clearance rate,
almost a third better than the national average."

And Crier says, "As the story began to unfold … [she began to
have doubts about what she was seeing and hearing.] After almost
three decades studying, practicing, and reporting on the criminal
justice system, [she] felt that something wasn't right in those
first news stories about Laci Peterson." The more she watched, and
the more she discussed the events of the case with colleagues on
her Court TV program, "Catherine Crier Live," the more convinced
she became that Scott was not only a pathological liar but that he
was a sociopath as well. Early on, she expressed this opinion and
backed it up with examples of his behavior and the flat affect he
displayed when he should have been at the very least shaken.

Laci Peterson was almost eight months pregnant on December 24,
2002. Her husband was (allegedly) the last known person to have
seen her alive on that Christmas Eve morning. He told everyone that
Laci was to walk the dog after she mopped the kitchen floor, go
shopping and bake gingerbread cookies for the evening celebration
at her parents' house.

According to Scott he decided to go to his warehouse office around
9:30 am, then later took off to the Berkley Marina because it was
too cold to golf. This sounded absurd, since he admitted that he
traveled ninety miles from his Modesto home on a gray, damp, cool
day to try out his new, small boat. But the first law enforcement
officer to arrive at the Peterson home that night smelled something
foul in the air. When the detectives arrived on the scene they too
had instinctive gut feelings about Scott Peterson's version of how
he spent his day and believed that his fish tale stunk. Later the
investigators determined that no one knew he had purchased a boat,
and they found a fishing license dated for two days: December 23rd
and December 24th --- very strange indeed. Do coincidences like
this really happen? Perhaps they do. But not in Modesto, according
to the detectives.

Scott Peterson became the prime suspect in the disappearance of
Laci almost as soon as she was reported missing. For two years
rumors, myths, illogical scenarios, lies, contradictions,
suspicion, and strange behaviors floated like balloons over the
case. Scott Peterson became his own worst enemy when he started to
stumble through public statements. Professional pundits saw his
demeanor and attitude as classic symptoms of a personality disorder
known as "sociopathy." The talking head shows cablecast hours and
hours of the case, which garnered interest on an international
scale. A DEADLY GAME shines a light into the dark corners and
secret revelations that stymied case watchers. Crier spares no
opportunity to inform her readers about everything she found that
left no doubt about Peterson's guilt.

Laci's body washed up within a mile of where Scott Peterson said he
was fishing the day she vanished; and Conner, their unborn son,
washed up there too. By that time Scott had been aware that police
investigators were following him and he tried to brazen out the
surveillance teams. When the bodies floated to the surface of the
bay, law enforcement realized that Scott Peterson had been living
only thirty miles from the Mexican border. He was a definite flight
risk and thus was arrested the day the DNA reports on his wife and
son were released.

In Redwood City, California, Judge Delucci oversaw a six-month
trial full of delays and every trick Scott Peterson's attorney
could play. But the jury was not fooled and they found Scott
Peterson guilty of murder. He was sentenced to death and now
resides on San Quentin's death row. His appeals, which could take
years, have not started yet. All of this is documented in
accessible language and written with the same professionalism
Catherine Crier brings to every project. This is a chilling tale
but one that is repeated daily throughout the United States. We may
never know why this case captured the world's attention, or why
Scott Peterson murdered his wife and unborn son, but A DEADLY GAME
is certainly the definitive resource for case watchers seeking
information that may help answer these questions.


Reviewed by Barbara Lipkien Gershenbaum on December 29, 2010

A Deadly Game: The Untold Story of the Scott Peterson Investigation
Catherine Crier with Cole Thompson

  • Publication Date: March 8, 2005
  • Genres: Nonfiction, True Crime
  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow
  • ISBN-10: 0060766123
  • ISBN-13: 9780060766122