‘Kitty Genovese’ by Catherine Pelonero

My Review (5 stars out of 5)


Subtitled: A True Account of a Public Murder and its Private Consequences, this is the story of the horrific murder of Kitty Genovese on the street where she lived in Queens, New York in 1964. What proved more horrifying however, was the number of witnesses to her screams during the prolonged attacks and the fact that none of them bothered to call the police or tried to help her. Using in-depth research, police records, court documents and newspaper reports, Catherine Pelonero reveals the backgrounds to both Kitty Genovese and her killer, Winston Moseley, and the aftermath of the murder and its effects on the community where Kitty lived.

I hadn’t heard of this case before, so the details were all new to me. Aside from the shocking murder of a young woman, the response of her neighbours in their apartments across the street provoked outrage at the time and eventually led to the setting up of a single telephone number people could use to call the police. The details of the murder are gory to say the least and may be off-putting to some readers. The author does a sterling job of retelling the story, though she does repeat herself a few times – maybe understandable considering the many witness statements and subsequent interviews of those involved. The book is a fascinating and disturbing account of how individuals can turn away from those in need – a fact that is still prevalent today.

Thought-provoking and disturbing.

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  5 comments for “‘Kitty Genovese’ by Catherine Pelonero

  1. 27/04/2022 at 2:18 PM

    It is from this case that we get the term “bystander effect.” The more witnesses there are, the less likely someone is to intervene — because the majority assume someone else will do it.


  2. 27/04/2022 at 11:51 AM

    I remember hearing about this case years ago. I think there was a telelvsion movie about it. It’s shocking to think about. I didn’t realize that it led to setting up a 911 line. Thanks for your review.


  3. 27/04/2022 at 11:50 AM

    I remember hearing about this case – I think there was a tv movie about it. It’s shocking to think about. I didn’t know that this led to setting up a 911 line. Thanks for sharing your review.


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