Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Bestseller Glatt (The Doomsday Mother) tells the stranger-than-fiction saga of South Carolina’s Murdaugh family in this exemplary work of true crime. While many readers will be familiar with the allegations that attorney Alex Murdaugh killed his wife, Maggie, and 22-year-old son, Paul, in 2021—resulting in his 2023 conviction and double life sentence—Glatt deepens the story by placing those murders in the context of the family’s history. The Murdaughs “dominated a huge swath of South Carolina’s luscious Lowcountry, epitomizing power, justice, and big, big money” by serving as the equivalent of district attorneys at a time when state laws also permitted them to maintain a lucrative civil practice; they were well-known locally as both prosecutors and personal injury lawyers. Leading up to the murders, Maggie was beginning to consider filing for divorce, and Paul had been indicted for homicide after drunkenly crashing a boat and killing one of its passengers. All of this, Glatt explains, motivated Alex to act in desperate defense of the family legacy and their accumulated fortune, supporting this thesis by digging into the scope of both their influence and their wealth. Through his judicious use of police records, interviews with sources including local historians, and Alex’s own jailhouse phone calls (including one where he laughs off his crimes, saying “it is what it is”), Glatt has produced the equivalent of a juicy John Grisham novel, featuring a lead more “dark and totally devoid of conscience” than anyone he’s ever researched. This real-life Southern noir lingers. (Aug.)

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A comprehensive entry into the mountain of media surrounding a prominent recent murder trial. In his latest true-crime book, veteran writer Glatt turns his attention to Richard Alexander Murdaugh, the scion of a powerful South Carolina legal family. The author traces the storied dynasty back to Murdaugh’s great-great-great-grandfather, who was born in Islandton, South Carolina, in 1793. It was that ancestor’s son who became the first lawyer in the family, opening a one-man law practice in Hampton County in 1910. Glatt ably brings us through the next century, during which the Murdaugh name became synonymous with the local judicial system. He explains how “three generations of Murdaughs had served as [the region’s] solicitors (called district attorneys in all other states), turning it into a family business,” while simultaneously operating their own highly lucrative private law firm. By the time Murdaugh graduated from law school in 1994, new state laws made it illegal for solicitors to also practice civil law. Consequently, he joined the family law firm, then called PMPED, which specialized in “personal injury cases for the little man.” Murdaugh enjoyed great success and social standing until 2019, when his teenage son, Paul, drunkenly drove a boat into a bridge, killing Mallory Beach, his 19-year-old friend. In June 2021, Murdaugh found his wife and Paul shot to death at his massive hunting estate, the double murder for which he would later be convicted (though that trial is beyond the scope of this book). Later that year, Murdaugh was fired from PMPED for stealing millions of dollars of funds from his own clients. The so-called “Murdaugh Murders” have spawned a virtual cottage industry of content, from podcasts to a Netflix docuseries, and it’s hard to see what Glatt, though he capably catalogs all the relevant events, offers that’s unique. Ultimately, the narrative feels like a book-length Wikipedia article. An exhaustive, uninspired work of true crime. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

The horrific double homicide may have thrown the South Carolina low country into an unflattering national spotlight, but the murders of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh are but two in a series of tragedies. At the center is Maggie’s husband and Paul’s father, Alex, a former lawyer descended from a long line of South Carolina prosecutors. Investigative journalist and veteran true-crime author Glatt (The Doomsday Mother, 2022) tells the story, from the first Murdaugh solicitors to hold office through Alex's 2023 trial, including the several deaths in Alex’s orbit: Stephen Smith, his son Buster's classmate, who was found dead under suspicious circumstances in 2015; longtime housekeeper Gloria Satterfield, who died after allegedly tripping and falling on the Murdaugh’s property in 2018; Mallory Beach, Paul's 19-year-old friend, who was killed in a 2019 boating accident while Paul was driving drunk. And of course, the 2021 shooting deaths of Maggie and Paul on the family hunting property. Adding to the horror, Alex all the while was stealing millions from his clients’ settlements, including from the sons of his deceased housekeeper. With the flurry of recent coverage, including Netflix and Dateline documentaries, readers will be swept up in this account of the circumstances that enabled such tragedies.