Monday, March 8, 2010

Florida Book

Beware the bespeckled librarian!

I don't generally read true-crime books; I find them to be a bit voyeristic, but even I was tempted to peek into the life of  a fellow polyglot librarian.  Stella Sands book, Behind the Mask: A True Story of Obsession and Savage Genius tells the story of William "Bill" Coday who seemed to his co-workers at the Broward County Main Library in Ft. Lauderdale to be a model citizen and employee. A good-looking and extremely intelligent man who spoke five languages, Coday was head of the International Languages Collection. What people did not know about him was that he had brutally murderered his young girlfriend many years before while they were living in Germany. When he failed to report to work one day in 1997, without notice, friends and co-workers were stunned to learn that his glamorous Colombian ex-girlfriend, Gloria Gomez, had been bludgeoned and stabbed to death in his apartment. After Coday confessed to the Gomez murder his lawyers worked to keep him off of death row. Six psychologists testified that Coday was mentally ill and should be spared. Throughout the trial Coday was on psychotropic drugs. For a variety of legal reasons jurors were not informed of the previous murder conviction. As with any death penalty case there were several appeals. Coday's case was actually never resovled.

As with any true story, the reader will not necessarily satisfied with the ending, which is often left ambiguous. Such is the case with this story. It seemed both that Coday was certainly smart enough to have pulled off faking a mental illness, and that the brutality of the crime could only have been by a person who was mentally ill. The book is a quick read, but did not tempt me to read any more of the genre.

Other Florida Posts
Main Florida Post March 3, 2010
Florida Public Libraries March 18, 2010

1 comment:

  1. In some cases, the insanity defense seems fair -- people are clearly out of touch with reality. But in other cases, it seems a matter almost of semantics, and this appears to be one of those. As the proverbial defense lawyer says, "Your honor, my client is clearly insane. Would a sane person have committed this crime?"

    I agree -- true crime is not for me. But just about the only fictional crime stories I read any more are Florida's own Carl Hiaasen --