The Perfect Father: Disturbing family annihilator case told in crisp, unemotional details

The Perfect Father by John Glatt | Publisher: St. Martin’s Press | Genre: True Crime | Find it on: Goodreads | Publishing: 21 July 2020

Chris Watts is the perfect father. Chris Watts is a doting husband. Chris Watts is a family man.

At least according to his wife’s Facebook feed. Every post details some element of their perfect suburban life. Their gorgeous house. Their fabulous furnishings. Their romantic relationship. Their perfect children and miracle third pregnancy.

But offline Shannan and Chris are in debt and out of love. But Chris has a plan to start a new life…without his old family.

The Perfect Father is an account of family annihilator Chris Watts and a condensed history of his relationship with his wife and children prior to his crime. Utilizing Shannan’s Facebook posts in addition to interviews, police documents, and public records Glatt presents the facts of the case in as unbiased and unemotional a way as it’s possible to be in a case like this.

While Glatt doesn’t sensationalize these crimes, the story lacks the kind of heart one might find in a Rule retelling of the same story. Shannan is humanized, but only through the lens of her social media posts and the hindsight of her friends and family. Her daughters are mentioned, but rarely as anything but victims.

Glatt has done his due diligence as a journalist, collecting and re-presenting facts, but his telling of the story lacks the humanity of great true crime, focusing on the perspective of the killer rather than the story of a family.

But maybe that has something to do with social media playing such a large role in this family dynamic. Shannan did such a masterful job of crafting the kind of family and identity she wanted the world to see there were few sources to go to to see who she, and her family, were in reality.

Watch: American Murder: The Family Nextdoor (Netflix)

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Read it? Adding it to your TBR? Disagree?  Let’s talk in the comments!

*Thanks to Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for the review copy!*

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