Friday, March 10, 2017
Review of Secrets in the Cellar by John Glatt
Secrets in the Cellar by John Glatt
Rating: * * * * * 5/5 stars
Summary: Josef Fritzl was a 73-year-old retired engineer in Austria. He seemed to be living a normal life with his wife, Rosemarie, and their family―though one daughter, Elisabeth, had decades earlier been "lost" to a religious cult. Throughout the years, three of Elisabeth's children mysteriously appeared on the Fritzls' doorstep; Josef and Rosemarie raised them as their own. But only Josef knew the truth about Elisabeth's disappearance…
For twenty-seven years, Josef had imprisoned and molested Elisabeth in his man-made basement dungeon, complete with sound-proof paneling and code-protected electric locks. There, she would eventually give birth to a total of seven of Josef's children. One died in infancy―and the other three were raised alongside Elisabeth, never to see the light of day.
Then, in 2008, one of Elisabeth's children became seriously ill, and was taken to the hospital. It was the first time the nineteen-year-old girl had ever gone outside―and soon, the truth about her background, her family's captivity, and Josef's unspeakable crimes would come to light.
John Glatt's Secrets in the Cellar is the true story of a crime that shocked the world.
My Review: In Secrets in the Cellar author John Glatt tells the horrifying story of Josef Fritzl an Austrian engineer, husband and father who tricked his daughter Elisabeth into becoming a prisoner in a cellar turned dungeon that was situated right below his own house. Fritzl would habitually rape and physically abuse his own daughter for the next twenty-four years as well as fathering children with her. Some of these children who he considered weaklings and an annoyance he took from his daughter and took them upstairs where they would be raised by his wife Rosemarie who thought that Elisabeth had run away to join a cult and was abandoning her children on her parents doorstep for them to raise. This was far from the truth of course and only later would Rosemarie learn the true horror of what her husband of fifty plus years had done to his daughter and their family as a whole.
The book chronicles Fritzl's abusive childhood at the hands of his Mother in a Nazi controlled Austria. The reader sees in detail how Fritzl went throughout his life from exhibitionist, to rapist, and finally the horrific things that he did to his daughter Elisabeth and the children he had with her. It was shocking to me the detail that Fritzl put into building his daughter's prison in the cellar; it took him six years to plan it all out and he seemed to start work on it after the first time he raped Elisabeth when she was only eleven. That was one of the things that really disturbed me because he was willing to do that to his own child. Being a mother myself I cannot fathom how a parent could do that to their child; and even after he was caught and in prison he still referred to his daughter Elisabeth as his 'second wife' and did not seem to think he had done anything wrong and felt no remorse for the atrocities he had committed.
The book is very well written; the only reason it was hard to read was because of the content you were reading about which is so outside the realms of what a normal human being could even think about perpetrating and this man seemed to do it with no problem; its really disturbing to think that people like this are in the world and probably walk by us everyday without our knowledge. The fact that he was able to keep Elisabeth and three of her children as prisoners for two plus decades without getting caught is very scary to me. That he could pass himself off as a good father, husband, and provider just chills me to the bone.
The book was easy to read and although I don't read a lot of books in this genre I perceived this book to be well put together and thoroughly researched. It was not just dry facts being listed for the reader it had a rhythm and pace to it that makes me respect the author and his writing ability. If you enjoy true crime novels or are a fan of books in this genre then this is a book you should pick up. It really shows a side of the human psyche that is disturbing to realize that someone living in normal society can be that narcissistic, perverted, and just plain EVIL.
I know this is a story that I won't be getting out of my head for a while in the foreseeable future.