• Written in Blood

  • A True Story of Murder and the Deadly 16-Year-Old Secret that Tore a Family Apart
  • By: Diane Fanning
  • Narrated by: Rob Granniss
  • Length: 9 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 08-02-12
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Diane Fanning
  • 4 out of 5 stars (10 ratings)

Regular price: £18.79

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Summary

Michael Peterson was a decorated veteran of the Vietnam War, a candidate for mayor and a New York Times best-selling novelist. His wife, Kathleen, was the first woman ever admitted to the Duke University School of Engineering, a brilliant executive and a loving and fun-filled mother - the last woman who one would expect to become a victim in her own home.

When her body was found at the foot of a stairway in her Durham home, Michael Peterson said that she had fallen. When an autopsy proved his story to be a lie, the death of another woman 16 years earlier came under suspicion. He was the last person to see Liz Ratliff before she, too, was found dead at the bottom of the stairs in Germany. These two suspicious deaths painted a dark portrait of a once-respected man.

©2005 Diane Fanning (P)2012 Diane Fanning

Critic reviews

  • Edgar Award Nominee, Best Fact Crime, 2006

What members say

Average customer ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

I found this book to be literally life changing

I truthfully purchased this book out of genuine interest/borderline obsession over The Staircase and whilst there is a good body of opposing argument in the text it is the narration that changed my world! As someone who struggles to get to sleep, this narrator, has me unconscious within minutes. I listen every night and am no more fighting to doze off until 5 am. Best purchase I ever made. Unfortunately I may never hear the whole book whilst still conscious!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

The story of The Staircase from a different angle.

This is the back story of the Michael Peterson murder trial as seen from a completely different perspective. In depth and fascinating, covering the earlier death of Elizabeth Ratliff as well as the high profile death of Kathleen Peterson. The trial and it's aftermath also feature. Highly recommended for anyone who watched The Staircase.

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Dave
  • 01-05-12

Fascinating, But Ridiculously Biased

It's one thing for a non-fiction author to have a point of view, but this author seems to have an axe to grind. She starts out really well, but about halfway through the author turns so biased and snarky it actually took me right out of the narrative. Part of what's so mind-blowing and fascinating about this story is how impossible it is to know whether Peterson is a multiple murderer or a tragic victim of coincidence and prosecutorial over-reach. I can't think of another case where BOTH sides have such strong circumstantial arguments and neither side has any real proof. So when the author starts sounding like a scornful opposition politican instead of a credible reporter of facts, all I could think of was "why the obvious agenda?" Worse, I kept wondering what REALLY happened, because it didn't feel like I was getting it straight. Ultimately, she didn't convince me of his guilt. If anything her obvious bias made me question her point of view more than it made me question Peterson's innocence.

With all that said, I still finished it. The narration was very good, and there was never a moment when I didn't want to know more. She has a lot of interesting facts and anecdotes, and this truly is one of the most fascinating true stories I've ever come across. But I think she torpedoes herself by making those facts feel like opinions and the fascinating story feel like a closing argument.

If you have never read about this amazing case (or if you have never seen the excellent multi-part documentary on the case called "The Staircase"), you might want to pick up this book despite all that. It's a great read, even if it isn't great factual reporting.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • A.R.
  • 14-11-12

One of the better Dianne Fanning books

What did you love best about Written in Blood?

This is one of the better Dianne Fanning books I have listened to in a while. Story was well written and the narrative well formulated. The performance was also very good. On the critical side, It was quite biased in parts and I wish that there had been an updated section on the developments of this case in the last couple of years. However it presents a good detailed starting point for anyone interested in the case.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • farmhouselady
  • 04-12-12

Red meat for true-crime junkies

Any additional comments?

This book was really interesting. It was very hard to put down between listens. The story was infuriating - how some slick operators manage to get away with terrible acts - but told in the very detailed, thorough way I like. The fact that the perp was a NY Times bestselling author made it all the more fascinating.

The book is well written, with no annoying defects that I could see. True-crime lovers will want to add this to their collection.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Gayle
  • 07-10-12

Awesome from start to end.

What did you love best about Written in Blood?

Well writen and well narrated. Fanning has a fabulous understanding of police and forensic procedures.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The children, of the victims. All showed incredible insight and clarity under the horrendous circumstances.

What about Rob Granniss’s performance did you like?

Smooth, easy listening, great at portraying indivduals.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Definately.

Any additional comments?

Dianne Fanning is one writer I will continue to add to my collection.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Chris
  • 20-08-12

Great story- sad outcome

It is indeed sad these individuals live and function within our society and affect others in their day to day lives.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Susan
  • 13-08-12

More detail then in the news

Good story, good read. Even though I knew the news story the book gave a lot more detail

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Laura
  • 25-05-12

Top-notch narrator AND story!

Very interesting crime novel. Saw the story on ID, which I found interesting, but the detail in the book makes it a great story. Highly recommend the narrator!
Note to author: Granniss is excellent - your other narrators ... Cyndee Maxwell and Shelby must have been cheap b/c they are the pits!

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Wildirishman64
  • 23-03-16

Not too impressed

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

Probably not, it lacked something. Didn't really feel it

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

His life and social history

What three words best describe Rob Granniss’s performance?

Cadence, Cadence, Cadence

Did Written in Blood inspire you to do anything?

No

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Robyn
  • 12-05-15

Additional information on a well-known case

I tossed up buying this book because I had seen the Staircase and had read something of the case, but Fanning's book provided a lot of detail I hadn't previously come across so it was well worthwhile from that perspective. In the end, it didn't answer the question for me, I still don't know whether this is a case of spectacular coincidence or murder, but it is a fascinating read and I highly recommend it for true crime fans. As for the narration, Rob Granniss has a very pleasant voice, but his rising intonation for statements (in English raising the voice towards the end of a sentence indicates that it is a question) was really irritating.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Largactil
  • 11-07-18

Provides Different Views than Staircase TV Show

I was fascinated, horrified and intrigued by the Staircase TV Shows. Watching them I felt like I was being lead down a path to draw a set of certain conclusions. I walked away from viewing it with a sense that it was biased and painted the husband in a typically positive light.

This book covers many of the same points, provides background and additional information not included in the TV show that seems relevant and tells it all in coherent story form.

With that said, if the TV show was biased toward the husband, this book is biased against him. But, it helps certain events in the show make more sense. Particularly helpful is information about testimony preceding and following clips presented in the show. This provided more context to those events.

I enjoyed and appreciated this books viewpoint. After reading it, I feel like I have heard the rest of the story that was missing from the show. One area that was covered in the book in more detail than the show is the life and passions of the wife.

I walk away from both the show and the book combined with the same conclusions as I did with only watching the show, but I feel like my conclusions now are informed by pro (show) and con (book) presentations of the material.

I would recommend this book for anyone who felt like there were information gaps in the show or who wants to hear alternate views about things presented in the show.

Having said all of that, it is difficult to know how accurate the information in the book is. The author doesn’t typically indicate the source of information, so it is hard to know whether conversations in the book are completely fictionalized or are recollections of a primary source that are fictionalized some to fill in gaps and for readability. To me, that is the biggest weakness of this book. For example, the book goes into great detail about the alleged childhood of the two adopted daughters but does not indicate where the information came from, so it is hard to know what is fictional and what is not.

It seems pretty likely that courtroom information was taken from transcripts and videos of the proceedings. However, this is never stated explicitly. Many additional witnesses and their testimony are presented in the book. I particularly appreciated hearing parts of the alleged testimony of the first responders. I felt like that information was blatantly missing from the show.

Other reviewers have slammed the book for being biased toward the prosecution side of the case, and it does seem biased in that direction. But the bias, as mentioned earlier, provided an opportunity to counterbalance the show which seemed biased toward the defense.