Iphigenia in Forest Hills: Anatomy of a Murder Trial

Janet Malcolm

Iphigenia in Forest Hills: Anatomy of a Murder Trial

She couldn't have done it and she must have done it'. This is the enigma at the heart of Janet Malcolm's book about a murder trial in the insular Bukharan-Jewish community of Forest Hills, Queens, that captured national attention. The defendant, Mozoltuv Barukhova, a beautiful young physician, is accused of hiring an assassin to kill her estranged husband, Daniel Malakov, a respected orthodontist, in the presence of their four-year old child. The prosecutor calls it an act of vengeance: just weeks before Malakov was killed in cold blood, Michelle was taken from her mother's home, and for inexplicable reasons, custody was given to her father. It is Borukhova's tragic fate, and the 'Dickensian ordeal' of her innocent child, that drives Malcolm's inquiry. 3.2 out of 5 based on 6 reviews
Iphigenia in Forest Hills: Anatomy of a Murder Trial

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre True Crime
Format Hardback
Pages 168
RRP £18.00
Date of Publication April 2011
ISBN 978-0300167467
Publisher Yale University Press
 

She couldn't have done it and she must have done it'. This is the enigma at the heart of Janet Malcolm's book about a murder trial in the insular Bukharan-Jewish community of Forest Hills, Queens, that captured national attention. The defendant, Mozoltuv Barukhova, a beautiful young physician, is accused of hiring an assassin to kill her estranged husband, Daniel Malakov, a respected orthodontist, in the presence of their four-year old child. The prosecutor calls it an act of vengeance: just weeks before Malakov was killed in cold blood, Michelle was taken from her mother's home, and for inexplicable reasons, custody was given to her father. It is Borukhova's tragic fate, and the 'Dickensian ordeal' of her innocent child, that drives Malcolm's inquiry.

Read an extract from the book | New York Times

Reviews

The Independent

Julia Pascal

As soon as I read this bizarre murder story, I felt impelled to read it again. It is impossible to put down … Malcolm's gripping reportage over the seven-week drama hooks the reader in because she successfully evokes the clashing circles of several separate New York societies.

22/04/2011

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The New York Times

Dwight Garner

Astringent and absorbing … Iphigenia in Forest Hills casts, from its first pages, a genuine spell — the kind of spell to which Ms. Malcolm’s admirers (and I am one) have become addicted. It is possible to remark that this is not among her very best books and yet observe that it delivers an extraordinary amount of pleasure.

26/04/2011

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The New York Times

Emily Bazelon

… if Iphigenia in Forest Hills doesn’t deliver the ordinary pleasures of a whodunit, its appeal lies in Malcolm’s sidelong observations about journalism and the judicial process. She is acute — and devastating — on how the custody fight helped to doom Borukhova for certain at trial.

29/04/2011

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The Times

Marcel Berlins

Malcolm does not shout her dissatisfaction; her forté is to accumulate her material quietly and let the reader be beguiled into a conclusion. She never boldly claims Borukhova’s innocence. She does not try to answer the question: “If not her, then who?” A gripping read.

08/04/2011

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The Observer

Rachel Cooke

This is not Malcolm's best book. Her story is in essence parochial, and its preoccupations are with the quotidian aspects of justice as much as the human … Nevertheless, it does its work. The unease grows, like a shadow, with the result that her essay's after-effect is entirely disproportionate to its brevity.

17/04/2011

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The Sunday Times

Lynn Barber

Malcolm is a god to American journalists though I’ve never understood why. She is an excellent observer, with a good eye for detail (she describes the judge as having “the faux-genial manner that American petty tyrants cultivate”), but often the detail gets in the way of clarity. But then clarity is not what Malcolm is about. Her aim, it seems, is always to muddy the waters, to make truth seem an elusive beast.

17/04/2011

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