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Invisible Darkness: The Strange Case of Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka

by Stephen Williams

Unlike its hastily assembled cousins, Stephen Williams’ Invisible Darkness (handsomely designed and published in a hefty hardcover format) promises a more thoughtful, comprehensive analysis of Karla and Paul and, a reader would hope, at least one compelling argument as to why these two did what they did.

Unfortunately, neither analysis nor theoretical explanation is provided. What we get is more than ever before of what is already out there in Bernardo Lit: salacious details recounting a carousel of rape, torture, humiliation, and murder.

Williams, a National Magazine Award winner, cannot be faulted for failing to follow up on his leads. The number of interviews he must have conducted with people who had only passing contact with P. and K. is admirably high. However, this mass of assembled facts is presented more as a catalogue than a synthesized narrative.

The writing works at an ironic, hardboiled voice in an effort to show the author’s own distance from what he is describing, but too often the excessive detailing of the most awful moments of violence betray a questionable fascination. This kind of prolonged engagement in re-enactment might have been understandable if it assisted in supporting an overarching thesis as to the motives of the perpetrators, but as nothing of the kind is attempted, the effect is more akin to reading pornography than insightful study.

For its impressive research and precise recounting of the chronology of events in the case, Invisible Darkness is to be considered an important addition to what is currently available in the Bernardo library. Next question: is there anyone other than the most perverse voyeur who would be interested in collecting such a library?


Reviewer: Andrew Pyper

Publisher: Little, Brown


Price: $29.95

Page Count: 568 pp

Format: Cloth

ISBN: 0-316-94137-9

Released: Sept.

Issue Date: 1996-10

Categories: Politics & Current Affairs