Synopses & Reviews
Do you believe that the gentlest and
most courteous person you know
is capable of murder?
The count in John Taylor’s beguiling true story is Roger de la Burde, a wealthy scientist and art collector, who wore ascots, claimed he was a Polish nobleman, bowed to women—and then routinely propositioned them. In 1992, Burde was found dead on his Virginia estate, with a single bullet wound in his forehead. The Count and the Confession explores the layers of mystery surrounding this strange man’s death. Did he, as the local deputies at first assumed, commit suicide? Or had he, as a state police investigator later decided, been killed? And if so, by whom? The longtime girlfriend? The pregnant mistress? A cuckolded husband? A disgruntled business associate?
At the center of this mystery is Beverly Monroe, who becomes the lead suspect in Burde’s death. Monroe is an improbable murderer. Burde’s companion for twelve years—he called her “Mouse”—she is an unfailingly genteel Southern lady, affluent, highly educated, and a mother of three children—and prior to her indictment, she had never even received a parking ticket. But Monroe did have an apparent motive. She was also the last person to see Burde alive. And in a controversial interview with an ingeniously manipulative state police investigator, she changed her initial story and said that she had been present when Burde killed himself.
Critically acclaimed author John Taylor’s recon-struction of this riveting case is narrative nonfiction at its best. Meticulously reported, artfully written, rich in psychological complexity, Gothic detail, and dramatic suspense, The Count and the Confession will make you marvel at the peculiarities of human motivation and force you to grapple with an array of irresistible questions, the most dramatic being Did she or didn’t she?
"Insightful and sensitive, [Taylor's] book will leave readers debating whether justice has prevailed." James Klise, Booklist
"[A] searing portrait of lives altered and destroyed, of violated rights and a labyrinthine and inflexible legal system and, ultimately, a story that remains an 'irreducible mystery.'" Publishers Weekly
"[A] classy if glacially paced real-life whodunit....[Taylor] looks into the matter with exquisite care, and though his desire to cover the ground thoroughly is admirable from an evidentiary point of view, it does tend to slow down the pace of a narrative that should crackle. Still, true-crime buffs ought to enjoy this outing..." Kirkus Reviews
"Taylor...pens a fascinating true-life mystery with no final answer but one that will leave many readers with the queasy feeling that justice was not done. For all true-crime collections." Library Journal
Did Beverly Monroe murder her boyfriend, a wealthy scientist and art collector who pretended he was a Polish count? Critically acclaimed author Taylor recounts their true story, so rich in psychological complexity, gothic detail, and dramatic suspense that it will leave readers spellbound.
About the Author
John Taylor, a journalist for more than two decades, has been a contributing editor at New York magazine and a senior writer for Esquire. He is the author of Falling, which Entertainment Weekly ranked as one of the five best nonfiction books of 1999, Circus of Ambition, and Storming the Magic Kingdom, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. He lives in East Moriches, New York.