I have always been intrigued by claims of the strange and unusual: Things like ghosts, extraterrestrials, sea monsters and sinister conspiracies. ghosts, extraterrestrials, conspiracy, Ira Levin, Rosemary's Baby, The Boys from Brazil
For this reason, perhaps, my favourite fiction writer was always Ira Levin. I remember reading Rosemary's Baby for the first time, and having to put it down for a week to allow my frayed nerves to settle. A tale about a demon baby scared me witless. The Boys from Brazil was another goody—a tale of NAZI cloning and a dark, global conspiracy.
What makes Levin's books so special is his ability to write about darkness and evil in a way that exposes our own darkness and our own evil. At the conclusion of Rosemary's Baby, Rosemary herself must face the decision of murdering her infant child. If she kills the demon spawn, then isn't she the evil-doer? She must decide one way or the other. The Boys from Brazil ends by posing the very same problem. The chief NAZI hunter must decide whether to track down and slaughter hundreds of children who are clones of Hitler himself. Who would be the evil-doer here?
Levin shows how the problem of defeating evil often forces us into positions where we must perform evil.
This was what always endeared me to his writing. He reminds us that where evil is concerned, things are not always black and white. All of us must face choices that see us exchanging a little evil for a greater good. And how should we act when we face such choices?
When I first heard about the Michael Peterson case and the so-called “owl theory” of Larry Pollard, my imagination was instantly captured. This was like a book by Levin himself! A woman killed by an owl?! How strange and unusual! Could this really be true?
The more I investigated this troubling idea, the more I found that the truth was far from black and white. Instead, it seemed that all the parties in this strange legal saga had faced the sorts of moral dillemas that Levin was always writing about. The truth in this case was hidden behind a tangled web of lies, which seemingly came from both the defense and the prosecution alike.
- Why had Michael lied about receiving two Purple Heart awards from the US military?
- Why had a crucial piece of evidence seemingly vanished mid-trial?
- Why did Michael’s alibi change between 2001 and 2003?
- And why had the police neglected to collect into evidence the presumed murder weapon as well as each and every object surrounding Kathleen’s dead body?
Untangling these secrets and lies became a near obsession for me. Who was obscuring our view? Why were the facts so difficult to collect? What had happened here? I began to get a glimpse into the depth of the conspiracy that surrounds this troubling case. And there remains much to be uncovered.