ROME — A group of Italian judges is being praised for a collection of imaginative theories about why Amanda Knox might have murdered her roommate Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy in 2007.
“The Werewolf from Mars: 101 Crazy Theories About Amanda Knox” has been widely praised in Italy, both in Italian legal circles and by literary critics. The book includes 101 speculative tales by judges who say they alone know the truth about the case.
The book’s January launch was accompanied by an unprecedented advertising campaign that included an exciting, real-life reinstatement of Knox’s 2009 conviction that was overturned by an appeals court in 2011. The reinstatement was based on a novel by fantasy writer Alessandro Nencini, who coincidentally was the presiding judge in the prosecution’s appeal.
Also reconvicted was Raffaele Sollecito, Knox’s ex-boyfriend who similarly had his 2009 conviction thrown out. While he remained in Italy during the launch of “The Werewolf from Mars” and is now suffering the consequences of his decision, Knox is free in the United States and says she will fight any attempt to extradite her.
A condensed, 27-page version of Nencini’s novel, aptly called “Decision to Reinstate Guilty Verdict,” is the longest story in the collection, while the shortest — “Amanda’s Blood Contract with Lucifer” — is only three paragraphs long.
Nencini’s original 337-page work is a chilling third-person narrative of the November night when Kercher was murdered. Much of the story is about a money dispute Nencini imagined the two women had, and even he admits he took too many creative liberties. He went so far as to dedicate 100 pages to a discussion between Knox and Kercher about the Italian football club Juventus — even though no evidence exists that shows they gave a crap about Juventus or football.
Nencini said he was inspired to write the thriller after watching the 2005 Woody Allen film “Match Point” — “a dark morality tale of lust, greed and murder,” he says.
One story in the collection, “Hypnotic Oath,” posits that Knox killed her British roommate after being brainwashed by a time-travelling Chinese magician who wanted revenge for the 19th-century Opium Wars with Great Britain. The story almost became the basis for Knox’s reconviction but it was rejected because influential judges feared it would cause political tension with China.
Another story that is getting a lot of attention was written by 34-year-old magistrate Letizia Craxi, the youngest of the 101 judges to contribute to the collection. She has been nicknamed the “Italian Tom Clancy” for her story “Agent A.” that contends Knox was a rogue CIA officer trying to infiltrate an Al-Qaeda sleeper cell in Perugia, the quiet university town in central Italy where she shared a flat with Kercher.
Nominated for a prestigious Nebula award was “The Tunnel of Logic,” a complex and dense tale in which an unnamed American and her Italian boyfriend learn that their meandering, pot-induced remarks about annoying people is having deadly consequences in an alternate world that might, in fact, be the real one.
The story collection’s title refers to a science-fiction novel by Fiorenza Sarzanini on which the 2009 conviction was based. It has since been adapted into a movie, and it describes Knox as a female werewolf — a “lupa mannara” — from Mars who takes the form of an American exchange student to learn how to seduce and eliminate Italian men, famous for their dangerous lovemaking. In the novel, Kercher stumbles upon Knox as she transforms back into a werewolf.
“These 101 stories are a testament to the power of the imagination of Italian judges and their willingness to spin a yarn in the pursuit of justice,” said Ignazio Moretti, the country’s most renowned expert on the fantasy stories that have provided the grounds for innumerable criminal convictions. “They are smart, creative and full of wild but plausible motivations for murder — and Ms. Knox is guilty of them all, I am sure.“
Knox and her lawyers have not publicly commented on the collection, leading many Italian judges to speculate that she’s hiding in a cave in the Cascades, clawing at her face and begging God for mercy. In fact, the judges are quite sure about this. They’re also fairly certain that although she is now living in the state of Washington, Knox speaks only Italian — even when she’s alone, reciting intense monologues to herself and to God confessing everything about her role in the murder, even when a curious and sexy Milanese reporter named Elisabetta passes by and hears Knox, hastily makes a recording, and promises to let the world know the truth — if Knox’s frat-boy henchmen don’t get to Elisabetta first.
Sollecito, 30, was mostly reconvicted in response to another work of art. A judge had written and acted in a one-person play called “My Name is Count Raffaele Sollecito and I Murder to Satisfy My Bloodlust” that depicts Sollecito as a vain 16th century aristocrat who becomes a killer vampire after being bitten by a Florentine prostitute in 1596.
“The Werewolf from Mars: 101 Crazy Theories About Amanda Knox” goes on sale May 16, but not this year, and probably not next year, either.