Cover image for A deadly secret : the strange disappearance of Kathie Durst
A deadly secret : the strange disappearance of Kathie Durst
Birkbeck, Matt.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Berkley Books, 2002.
Physical Description:
ix, 292 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HV6762.U5 B57 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
HV6762.U5 B57 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



In 1982, Kathie Durst's disappearance made front-page headlines. The beautiful twenty-nine-year-old medical student was married to Robert Durst, son of one of New York's most powerful real estate magnates. When she vanished after arriving home from a party, Kathie's friends pointed the finger at her reclusive husband. They told police that Kathie lived in terror of Robert and was seeking a divorce. They also knew that Kathie had uncovered confidential financial documents that cast a shadow over her husband and the Durst Organization's upstanding reputation. What they didn't know was a deeply disturbing Durst family secret...and an even deadlier secret held tight for twenty years by one of Kathie's friends. In 2001, a disheveled drifter was arrested for shoplifting at a Pennsylvania supermarket. He was Robert Durst, heir to a family empire valued at two billion dollars, in disguise and on the run, wanted for the grisly dismemberment slaying of an elderly neighbor in Texas and a suspect in the murder of his best friend, a California writer. What transpired between Kathie's disappearance and the routine arrest was a 19-year, cross-country mystery of stolen IDs and multiple identities that raised some baffling questions about one of the country's most prominent men and his family. In 1982, after the Durst family's refusal to cooperate in the NYPD investigation, Kathie Durst's disappearance faded into yesterday's news. Now, two decades later, thanks to the work of two veteran police investigators and one Texas private eye, Kathie's friends and family can finally hope for closure...and justice. A Deadly Secret is the definitive account of the search for Kathie Durst, and the shocking secrets held by those closest to her.

Author Notes

Matt Birkbeck is an author and journalist who has written articles for The New York Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Reader's Digest and Boston Magazine. He is a former newspaper reporter who joined business publisher Harrison Scott Publications, covering Wall Street and regulatory issues in Washington, D.C.

He has written several books including his biography on Sammy Davis Jr., Deconstructing Sammy: Music, Money, Madness and the Mob. His other title's include: A Deadly Secret, A Beautiful Child, The Quiet Don, and A Deadly Secret: The Bizarre and Chilling Story of Robert Durst.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

People magazine reporter Birkbeck offers little insight in this muddied look at Robert Durst, the eccentric New York real estate heir suspected in the 1982 disappearance of his troubled wife, the former Kathie McCormack. Although investigators had circumstantial evidence against him, including statements about long-term physical and mental abuse, Durst was never indicted. In 1999, after receiving new information, the New York State Police opened a new investigation into the case. Durst proved elusive until he was arrested in Galveston, Tex., for murdering his neighbor. After making bail, he disappeared, and police determined he'd impersonated a deaf-mute woman in order to rent apartments there and in New Orleans before finally being apprehended in Pennsylvania for shoplifting. Durst goes on trial in Texas in September, but the investigation into Kathie's disappearance remains stalled. Birkbeck is attuned to the subtle conflicts among the Durst family, Kathie's family and the police and district attorney's office, which scuttled the original inquiry. But Birkbeck's breathless prose ("Kathie was clearly on a downward spiral, a 747 that had lost its engines") almost buries these moments of clarity. He relies on unnecessary digression (such as Westchester DA Jeanine Pirro's troubles); tinny recreated dialogue; and nasty portrayals. He paints the NYPD detectives as boors, the Dursts as coldhearted robber barons and Kathie's supporters as trashy hangers-on. This voyeuristic true-crime may "dish the dirt" on Durst, but it makes for prurient reading. (Sept. 3) Forecast: Durst's September murder trial may temporarily boost sales, but true crime's discriminating readers will be disappointed by this. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved