I got this book yesterday and after lunch I decided to read a chapter or two to get a feel for the story. By the end of the night, I had read the whole book. It’s rare that I can sit and read a book cover to cover in just one sitting. With a few regular life interruptions halting me every once in a while, I still got the whole thing read in just a few hours’ time.
In an incredible first-hand account, we read of a horribly disturbed and vicious man who preyed on the vulnerable, the weak and the frail, the disenfranchised. Most of these victims were female. Unsuspecting at the start and slowing driven to the terror of knowing their demise was looming over them.
Robert Durst is currently being held in prison during his trial for the murder of Susan Berman, who happened to be his best friend at one time and for many years.
William Steel is NOT the author’s real name. It is a pseudonym that he is using for his protection. Protection from whom? From what? Robert Durst. And the law. He is currently at an undisclosed location and will be until the Durst matter is fully resolved.
The experiences and memories told by Steel are, at the very least, disturbing and at most, bone chilling and blood curdling. Some of it is so incredible that it would be hard to believe if you didn’t know the history of the man in this book and also, the man telling the story.
William Steel is a former jewel and art thief. He has found his redemption and reformation in religion. He describes in as much detail as he can the horrific experiences he encountered as a close personal friend of Robert Durst.
There are many interesting things about this book. The first, and most obvious, is the personal and ongoing friendship with Durst. Steel felt from the very moment he met Durst (due to the circumstances) that Durst had killed his wife. This suspicion was bolstered as time went on until Durst practically confessed to Steel decades later.
William Steel was a thief. That’s an admitted fact. That doesn’t mean he didn’t have a moral compass. He talks about his ill mother and the effects growing up with her had on him. He became a front line protector of his mother and other people he saw bullied, especially women. He may have done a lot of morally questionable things during his years of thievery but, he drew the line at violence. If he witnessed a woman getting mistreated, he became the “knight in shining armor” and at the same time maintained his distance as best he could from the horrors he was so often faced with.
Durst is a multimillionaire. A man on trial for murder with millions of dollars at his disposal for his dream team legal defense squad. But there are some serious hurdles the defense will have to overcome if they are going to get a Not Guilty verdict on the trial over Susan Berman’s untimely demise. The biggest one being that Durst seems to talk about his crimes…a lot…to almost anyone. I have never heard of another serial murderer talking about his crimes so often to so many people.
There is a mountain of inside information from Steel about Durst. Not only his crimes but also just the kind of person and man that he was. Steel gives the exact kind of insight we always look for when talking about serial killers. Who was this person? How did he behave on a day to day basis? What did his eccentricities include and how did ALL of this relate to his crimes???
Another interesting thing is that, even with all his morals about human beings and women, Steel was still (AT THAT TIME) very much a criminal. His inaction in not reporting Durst to the police on many occasions stemmed from not having enough evidence, trying to set him up for blackmail or arrest AND keeping himself, and others, safe from Durst.
The ability to not only put up with someone like Robert Durst but to also be able to stomach the things he did is an incredible feat. There are MANY instances described in detail where Steel, like any normal human being, would want to kill Durst. But, his ability to read Durst and manipulate him saved his own life and at least two others.
Throughout reading this whole book it was never forgotten that the narrator was a convicted criminal. HOWEVER, not all criminals are violent and bad people and NOT ALL CRIMINALS lie. While it is true that we do see a lot of criminals lie a vast majority of the time, do NOT let that cloud your ability to accept information from a first-hand source.
Steel repeats various things many times throughout the book and although I know that books go through many drafts and editing processes, his core statements never change. He accepts what he was and is honest about what happened. Even with things, as he tells us a few times, that are incredibly embarrassing to him.
That’s not always easy for a man to do.
Plus, after reading this, you have to know that their chance meeting outside a restaurant would have been just that, a chance meeting between two strangers and nothing more. BUT, because of Robert’s big boastful mouth and that of his partner and friend at the time, Susan Berman, William Steel was immediately curious about this “millionaire” and was hoping to get a scam going to swindle some money away from the rich man. Instead, what he got was first class, front row seat to the tragic psychopathy that makes up Robert Durst.
This book will creep anyone out. But it’s ridiculous to think that people like this don’t exist. The fact that he is currently on trial does give me some relief, although, these days, the justice system doesn’t seem to be working as well as it could be. I, after reading this book, will be very curious to see how that trial progresses because I DO think Robert Durst killed his wife and others. The things in this book, some of them are just too far out to be made up. I mean, crime drama TV shows haven’t even been able to come up with this kind of stuff.
Any true crime fan will love this book. Horror fans might be partial to it as well. Anyone with a weak stomach or is easily offended, this book isn’t for you. You can wait for the Lifetime Channel made-for-TV movie.
Update: Since this is such a fast read and so fascinating, it would be ridiculous for you not to have your own copy. Visit the link below to purchase and shudder with horror and disbelief.
Amazon purchase link: