Vulgar Favours: The Assassination of Gianni Versace by Maureen Orth

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Vulgar Favours: The Assassination of Gianni Versace by Maureen Orth

Category: True Crime
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Rachael Spencer
Reviewed by Rachael Spencer
Summary: An intricate and vivid account of the life of Andrew Cunanan, the spree killer who shot Gianni Versace. This book is well written, fascinating, and I can see 100% why it's been used as the basis for American Crime Story season two. It might not be everybody's cup of tea, but if you're a fan of the true crime genre then I think you should jump into this book head first. A really good, if unsettling, read.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 560 Date: October 2017
Publisher: BBC Books
ISBN: 978-1785943102

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What is it about true crime which makes it so fascinating to such a wide audience? I guess it's wanting to try to figure out what happened to make these people partake in the awful crimes they committed, or else the same inexplicable impulse people have to slow down when they overtake a car crash on the motorway. Whatever it is, Maureen Orth's book, Vulgar Favours, taps right on into it.

This is the story of Andrew Cunanan who, in 1997, went on a killing spree which culminated in him killing Gianni Versace and then days later turning the gun on himself. This book, however, doesn't just talk about the crimes themselves and the manhunt for Cunanan which lasted for three months, it's a truly in depth narrative of Cunanan's life and everything which surrounded the world he lived in and those he killed. Cunanan was bright, charismatic, and always the centre of attention. He was also manipulative, a compulsive liar, and wanted everything without having to put in any of the work.

The first half of this book, his early life and time before the killings, paints an interesting portrait of a man who, when it really boiled down to it, nobody actually knew. He lied to everybody, but was so charming that they mostly just let it slide. What they didn't all know was that he was a drug user spiralling further and further into a life he couldn't control. His story is seedy and outrageous, and the whole book is so detailed and interesting that I urge you to read it if true crime is your thing. I learned so much about so many different aspects of this story I didn't already know about. The story of Andrew Cunanan, it seems, has often been cleaned up a little in the media, sweeping away a little of his drug use and a lot of the gay S&M scene he frequented as part of his double life.

This is the book which has inspired the next series of American Crime Story. The first series of this show, The People v. O.J. Simpson, was a massive success and I can see that with this text to work from, this next series should be just as good. There are so many different stories and accounts in this book that there's a plethora of material to work into a TV show. I'll really be intrigued to see how they go about writing this for screen. I'll also be very happy that I've already read the text, because it's full of so much detail that I know there'll be a lot people who simply watch the show won't get.

I'm hugely impressed that Orth managed to write such a dense work about such a heavy topic and have it still be wonderfully readable. Obviously it's not necessarily an enjoyable read because the subject matter is such a grim tale, but I didn't for a minute want to put it down. I was gripped in my want to understand and get all the facts, to try and put the puzzle together and maybe hope that it might have a different ending to the one I knew it would inevitably drawing to. I was totally emotionally invested, despite my prior knowledge of the people involved in it and the story itself, so I'm taking this as a sign of really strong writing on the author's part.

My biggest takeaway from Vulgar Favours is, really, just how sad the whole thing is. So many things could have gone right for Cunanan if he'd had a different upbringing or a different attitude, but isn't that always the way? I sincerely recommend this book, but I would give out a warning that it's not for all. Like most true crime, it doesn't shy away from the facts and in this case the facts are startling and troublesome. However, if that doesn't bother you then you should definitely read this book.

If you, like me, are really interested in this sort of thing, why not give Not In Your Lifetime: The Assassination of JFK by Anthony Summers a go. Also, an oldie but a goodie, The Suspicions of Mr Whicher by Kate Summerscale is the most fascinating story of one of the earliest Scotland Yard murder enquiries, a great background to whet your true crime appetite.

Buy Vulgar Favours: The Assassination of Gianni Versace by Maureen Orth at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Vulgar Favours: The Assassination of Gianni Versace by Maureen Orth at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Vulgar Favours: The Assassination of Gianni Versace by Maureen Orth at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Vulgar Favours: The Assassination of Gianni Versace by Maureen Orth at Amazon.com.


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