The Perfect Father by John Glatt
Published by St. Martin's Press on July 21, 2020
Genre: True Crime
Format: ARC, eBook
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I received an advance copy of this book from Edelweiss.
In the early morning hours of August 13th, 2018, Shanann Watts was dropped off at her Frederick, Colorado home by a colleague after returning from a business trip. It was the last time anyone would see her alive. By the next day, Shanann and her two young daughters, Bella and Celeste, had been reported missing, and her husband, Chris Watts, was appearing on the local news, pleading for his family’s safe return.
But Chris Watts already knew that he would never see his family again. Less than 24 hours after his desperate plea, Watts made a shocking confession to police: he had strangled his pregnant wife to death and smothered their daughters, dumping their bodies at a nearby oil site. Heartbroken friends and neighbors watched in shock as the movie-star handsome, devoted family man they knew was arrested and charged with first degree murder. The perfect mask Chris had presented to the world in his TV interviews and the family’s Facebook accounts was slipping—and what lay beneath was a horrifying image of instability, infidelity, sexual ambivalence, and boiling rage.
In this first major account of the case, bestselling author and journalist John Glatt reveals the truth behind the tragedy and constructs a chilling portrait of one of the most shocking family annihilator cases of the 21st century.
If you follow true crime, then you’re definitely familiar with the story of Shanann Watts and her daughters, Bella and Celeste. In August 2018, Shanann’s husband Chris murdered her, their daughters, and their unborn son, Nico. After initially feigning innocence, Chris later confessed to the murders. The crime came as a shock to the country and perhaps the world–this picture-perfect, Instagram-ready family seemed to have it all.
In The Perfect Father by John Glatt, we’re given a history of the Watts family. From Shanann and Chris’ early relationship, to marriage, to the addition of their two daughters, to the sad revelation that Shanann was pregnant with their first son at the time that Chris murdered her. Chris’ many demons are on display, such as his suppressed anger and rage toward his wife, as well as his infidelity in the weeks leading up to the murders.
I have mixed feelings about this book because there are moments when I felt that the narrative was focusing too much on Shanann’s personality flaws. Was she Type A? Yes, and that showed in the way she related to her husband as well as his parents. Was she controlling? Yes, but the fact of the matter is that she and Chris probably should have ended the marriage in divorce–not murder. In fact, there’s evidence that Shanann was willing to go to couples counseling in order to save the marriage. I didn’t like the constant reminder that Shanann was obsessive and suspicious of her husband. Even if that’s true–which all evidence points to–it still shouldn’t matter in the end. She and her daughters deserved to live.
I recommend this book for people who don’t follow true crime and have little or no information about the case. If you’re into true crime, there’s nothing new here. Much of the information is taken directly from interviews or transcripts that have already aired in the form of news pieces, true crime shows, or podcasts.
I flew through this book but in the end I felt disappointed. I didn’t agree with the way that Shanann was portrayed and I could not care less about how Chris claims to have found religion in prison. There was just too much focus on the murderer here. This is a tragic story all around and I don’t think this book did the victims justice.
Rating: 2.5 stars