I found this book on the "for sale" shelf at my library and bought it because Joe McGinniss wrote it, not because I was familiar with the case of the "Milkshake Murderer." Once you adapt to his writing style, it's a quick read.
There's not a lot of fluff here -- it's fast paced and sticks to the facts -- even though it's obvious which "side" McGinniss is on right from the start. So if you're looking for a "fair and balanced" look at the case, you aren't going to find it here, and I'm not sure it could even be done, the crime being so heinous and bizarre! According to McGinnis, Rob Kissel was just a great guy -- ambitious and driven, yes, but he loved his family. And then there's Nancy -- lousy wife and lousy mother and just plain evil, or stupid, or both.
It *is* impossible to feel sorry for Nancy Kissel, or find any redeeming qualities whatsoever, reading this book. But on the other hand, was Rob Kissel nothing but Mr. Wonderful? I don't believe, not for a minute, the allegations that Nancy made as part of her defense. But I also can't believe *any* relationship could really be that one-sided.
McGinnis recounts in great detail Nancy's actions in the week after Rob was murdered, and this was, I think, my favorite part of the book simply because you just can't make this stuff up! Shaking my head the whole time, thinking, "You have *got* to be kidding!"
McGinnis goes to great lengths to hammer home the point that these people were absolutely rolling in disgusting amounts of money, and that got a bit tiresome after awhile. I found myself thinking, "Okay! Okay! They're rich! I get it!" But it all goes with the title "Never Enough" -- and not just for Rob and Nancy. Some of the other members of Rob's family were willing to go to great lengths to support a lifestyle that was built on a house of cards.
This book is the true story of Rob and Nancy Kissel and how Nancy ends up killing Rob. Author Joe McGinninss does his normal great job of providing the back story of their childhoods. He then takes the reader through their first meeting and their marriage. The book describes in great detail how their marriage falls apart and the unfortunate consequences of their failing marriage. The book also deals with Rob's brother Andrew and the circumstances surrounding his death.
It's an extraordinary tale of wealth and how it can corrupt and change people. Rob is a hot shot takeover artist who worked with both Goldman Sachs and Merril Lynch overseas in Hong Kong. He marries Nancy, who happens to be a waitress, and the two of them experience a great amount of wealth and success. With this wealth and success also comes some pretty big downsides and combined with Nancy's unstable personality, results in the horrific death of Rob Kissel.
Reading this book felt like a story for a movie only that no one would believe it. The reader learns about Rob's and Nancy's life which became more and more delusional.
We learn that Robert Kissel was a caring, very attractive man, driven to success and very competitive but never stingy with the money his wife spent. Growing up in a family where affection and emotion was rare he never really learnt to show his love to his wife. So he gave her what he had: presents and money. At least in the beginning. He tried to safe his marriage while Nancy already found love in a TV-system man who installed the Kissel's very own system.
Nancy had it all. Money to spend, fame, she was someone in Hong Kong's society but it was never enough. She always wanted more. The better car, the larger apartment, the best dresses, everything. She didn't like motherhood. She didn't like what pregnancy did to her body and blamed Rob for her flaws.
After month of collecting sedative drugs she gave her little daugther a milk shake for her father. In this milk shake where five different sedative drugs which made Rob collapse on the bed. She then stroke him five times on the head with a little statue.
It was the day Rob announced to two persons that he's going to talk to her that he was filing for a divorce.
To disguise what she did she forbid the housekeeper and nanny to enter the bedroom, bought carpet, tape and cushions and rolled the body into the new carpet. She removed stains in the bedroom and had the maintenance crew remove the carpet into the buildings storage room. By then the body had begun to stink and the nanny finally alarmed a friend of Rob in San Francisco.
Nancy was taken into custody and claimed in trial she killed him in self-defense. She recollected in every detail how the alleged abuse went on for years but in the end the jury didn't believe her and she was sent to prison for the rest of life.
She didn't stop sending daily letters to the man she loved in Vermont. She didn't accept that Michael meanwhile was married and didn't want her letters. A year after the verdict Michael contacted authorities to stop her from sending love letters.
There are questions I am asking myself. Rob knew she was up to something. After discovering he was seeing a man he installed spy ware on her PC. He read all the emails she wrote to this man and he saw she researched sedative drugs on the Internet. Once he even called his friend in San Francisco and told her he had the feeling she was drugging him so that he quit drinking in the house. He only drank what was still closed and sealed.
During the trial computer experts talked about their findings on the Kissels home PC's. They found what Rob researched on his PC. He searched for words like gay sex, hot male sex, anal, cocks, male ass and other catchwords. This findings might have backed up Nancy's story about an abuse. At least they indicated Rob wasn't as flawless as everybody saw him.
Also a lot of former working colleagues of Rob are still funding Nancy's trial costs and lawyers. They might have a reason but those together with the persons funding remain anonym.
The appeal against her conviction began on 14 April 2008.
In the end the questions open are those one needs to ask oneself: Is it possible the author's research was too one sided and not really focused on the circumstances that led to the murder. There wasn't much we learned about Robert Kissel and his daily life and past.
The second, more shortly part is the death about Andrew Kissel in 2006. The less successful brother and con man. After Nancy was arrested the three children went into Andrew's custody. Soon after that his wife Haley filed for divorce. She felt overwhelmed with five children and a husband that cheated on her. She once wrote an email to Andrew's sister Jane, telling she sometimes imagined to shoot him.
The day she left the house with her own two children, Rob's children where meanwhile moved to Jane, she called Jane and his father Bill with concerns. She just left him and she feared he might do something to his life.
The next day he was found dead in the basement. He was cuffed, wore a shirt over his head and had been stabbed multiple times into the back.
The list of subjects in a con man's live is a very long one and the case remained open for a long time. A chauffeur and his cousin were charged in the death of Kissel on March 23, 2008. Kissel's driver Carlos Trujillo and his cousin Leonard Trujillo have been charged in his death. Kissel was murdered days before he was going to plead guilty in a multi-million dollar fraud case. Haley has never been accused or been mentioned as a subject.