An Unexplained Death: Book summary and reviews of An Unexplained Death by Mikita Brottman

An Unexplained Death

The True Story of a Body at the Belvedere

by Mikita Brottman

An Unexplained Death by Mikita Brottman X
An Unexplained Death by Mikita Brottman
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  • Published in USA  Nov 2018
    288 pages
    Genre: True Crime

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Book Summary

An Unexplained Death is an obsessive investigation into a mysterious death at the Belvedere - a once-grand hotel - and a poignant, gripping meditation on suicide and voyeurism

"The poster is new. I notice it right away, taped to a utility pole. Beneath the word 'Missing,' printed in a bold, high-impact font, are two sepia-toned photographs of a man dressed in a bow tie and tux."

Most people would keep walking. Maybe they'd pay a bit closer attention to the local news that evening. Mikita Brottman spent ten years sifting through the details of the missing man's life and disappearance, and his purported suicide by jumping from the roof of her own apartment building, the Belvedere.

As Brottman delves into the murky circumstances surrounding Rey Rivera's death - which begins to look more and more like a murder - she contemplates the nature of and motives behind suicide, and uncovers a haunting pattern of guests at the Belvedere, when it was still a historic hotel, taking their own lives on the premises. Finally, she fearlessly takes us to the edge of her own morbid curiosity and asks us to consider our own darker impulses and obsessions.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. [A] page-turning look at the darker impulses of the human psyche." - Publishers Weekly

"[A] page-turner...those who choose books with dark subject matter, suspense, and microhistory elements will all find something to enjoy here." - Booklist

"[A] compelling, often creepy book…Mixing fascinating investigation and macabre memoir, this is a dark ride with substance." - Kirkus

"Both true crime and hotel history, this book would have benefited from concentrating purely on either the disappearance of Rivera or the hotel." - Library Journal

"This is a learned, lucid, and finally heartbreaking account of urban obsession. It's David Fincher's film Zodiac crossed with accounts of Judge Crater's disappearance crossed with Ms. Brottman's wild take on the unknowability of life and the necessity of staying obsessed. Ms. Brottman is a groove - and so is her book." - James Ellroy

"Mikita Brottman's An Unexplained Death is not just a thrilling whodunit, with new clues unfolding every chapter, it's a beautifully written elegy about the mystery of death...This is one riveting, heartbreaking read." - Skip Hollandsworth, author of The Midnight Assassin: The Hunt for America's First Serial Killer

"Mesmerizing. A haunting meditation on the opacity of facts - how the who, what, when, and where always fail to plumb the abyss: the why. Brottman's inquiry into the death of Rey Rivera turns into an 11-year hunt for revelation along the knife-edge of pathology." - Claudia Rowe, author of The Spider and the Fly: A Writer, a Murderer and a Story of Obsession

"An Unexplained Death begins as a factual mystery, then opens up into something far greater: the fundamental mysteries that concern us all. Mikita Brottman is a gripping writer and an intrepid explorer, a brave chronicler of her obsessions, and ours." - Zachary Lazar, author of Vengeance

"Gripping, immersive, and beautifully written, with an unsettling juxtaposition of criminality and mundanity. Brottman blends tragic and gruesome details with an intelligent and refined touch." - Henry Bond, photographer and author of Lacan at the Scene

"An intriguing story of a woman's decade-long morbid obsession with suicide and the mysterious death of the 32-year-old stranger who died after crashing through the roof of her home, Baltimore's historic Belvedere Hotel." - Caitlin Rother, New York Times bestselling author of Then No One Can Have Her

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Author Information

Mikita Brottman

Mikita Brottman is an Oxford-educated psychoanalyst and the author of several previous books, including The Great Grisby and The Maximum Security Book Club. A professor of humanities at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, she lives with her partner David Sterritt and their French bulldog in Baltimore's Belvedere.

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