After news broke that Amanda Knox landed a book deal for “close to $4 million,” we caught up with journalist Andrew Gumbel–the co-writer working on a memoir with Raffaele Sollecito, Knox’s Italian boyfriend.
Like Knox, Sollecito was charged with the 2007 death of Meredith Kercher in Perguia, Italy, but the conviction was overturned. Last year, Sollecito signed with Sharlene Martin at Martin Literary Management.
Q: What will Raffaele Sollecito’s book show us that we haven’t seen in the media frenzy surrounding the Amanda Knox case?
A: It’s a rule of thumb that prosecutors dictate media coverage in a criminal trial. They are the ones who bring the charges, and are either vindicated or successfully challenged in court; the texture and the substance of the defendants’ stories tend to get lost. And so it was here. The media coverage focused largely on the yes/no question of whether Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were guilty.
The mechanics of the case from the inside — how they were interrogated, why they were prosecuted even after the most obvious perpetrator, Rudy Guede, was caught and convicted, the behind-the-scenes haggling between lawyers, defendants, expert witnesses, court officials and others — have been revealed only in glimpses, if at all.
Both Amanda’s book and Raffaele’s book are sure to shed light on how and why this grotesque miscarriage of justice arose. I would venture to say Raffaele’s story is even more absorbing than Amanda’s, because it was his family which orchestrated the detective work that made it possible to dismantle the case against both of them piece by piece. It was a high-wire act from beginning to end, and it’s a thrilling tale.
Q: Some people call the book deals resulting from this case “blood money.” What do you say to these critics?
A: The appeals court demonstrated unequivocally in its 144-page analysis of the case issued last December that the case against Amanda and Raffaele was a sham. What happened to them only compounded the tragedy of Meredith Kercher’s murder. Telling their story will not dishonor her memory; rather, it will clarify the factual record and shed light on the gross dysfunctions of a criminal justice system that was willing to put the two of them away for life on the basis of an overbaked theory unsupported by credible evidence.
Amanda and Raffaele can’t bring Meredith back, but they can give everyone the benefit of the truth. It’s an important story to tell. And after all they have gone through — including the huge hit their families took to their reputations and their pocket books — they certainly deserve both vindication and compensation.
Q: You said in an interview that the book will be “a love story” as well as a legal thriller. What are the love story aspects you have explored while working together on this book?
No aspect of this story follows a predictable script, and the relationship between Amanda and Raffaele — before, during and after their incarceration — is no exception.
Q: Sollecito will also have to deal with a number of readers who thought he was guilty before he ever had a chance for a proper trial. What will your book offer these critics?
Not only will the book leave no doubt about Raffaele’s innocence; everything Raffaele and his family have to tell, backed by previously unpublished documents in the case, suggests that his incarceration had almost nothing to do with the actual evidence but had another motivation entirely — to be revealed when the book comes out.