She Became a Private Eye. And she Investigated Her Past of her.

The Story of a Private Investigation
By Erika Krouse

In 2002, Erika Krouse made the fateful decision to reach for a Paul Auster novel. Her hand from her met that of a man reaching for the same book, and the two struck up a conversation. As Krouse describes it, the ability to draw people out of her has followed her around her whole life; it has, she says, something to do with her face of her. After telling her things that he had “never told anyone,” the man, a lawyer, hired her on the spot to be his private investigator de ella.

Without any real training, Krouse’s first few assignments went badly. Then she was called in on a new case. “It’s rape,” the lawyer said. “College rape, gang rape. That OK with you?” A complicated question for anyone, but for Krouse, herself a victim of childhood sexual abuse, painfully so.

The case is centered on the university’s football team, players, coaches and recruits. That story, and the fallout from Krouse’s own sexual abuse, become the twin threads that compose this beautifully written, disturbing and affecting memoir. This is literary nonfiction at a high level. Fans of true crime might be disappointed in the eccentricities of the writer, who regularly finds reason to detail, say, drought conditions in Colorado, instead of giving a straightforward accounting of crimes and cover-ups. A note lets readers know that details and timelines have been changed, and while events clearly take place in Boulder, no actual names are used. The book swirls around major sexual issues of our day—consent, college rape culture, institutional accountability—without ever feeling preachy or didactic.

Instead, we get beautiful sentences that leap out of nowhere. Her de ella daily drive de ella: “/:“ I’d unroll my windows to smell the town, the wet or dusty dirt alive with pine needles, animal droppings, dead bugs and aspen leaves. In the winter the town smelled like snow.” Of weather: “My feet were cold, my lungs were cold, and the weepy damp crawled down my shirt and up the legs of my pants.”

In detailing her own trauma, Krouse is unsparing. The abuse started when she was a toddler, and her later attempts by her to obtain help from her mother by her were — echoing the university rape case — ignored and rebuffed. Romantic and familial relationships suffer. She struggles with her boyfriend (and eventual husband), brother and sister. I found myself gasping at some moments involving her mother de ella, the pain heightened by tenderness.

There are occasional false moments, too. The author sometimes drops into hard-boiled noir tropes — “Knees, neck, eyes,” she tells the lawyer when he sends her to talk to one football player: “Everyone has weaknesses” — that feel at odds with the tone of the book . And occasionally the story reads like a creation myth for a hero PI As an investigator myself, I objected to the notion that we just show up and, through some mystical accident of physiognomy, get people to spill their guts. (Maybe I just lack a magic face.) My guess is that it’s Krouse’s listening to her, the quality of her deep attention to her, that gets people talking. She certainly conveys the emotional realities of the job: the narcotic thrill of a good interview, the exhilaration of grimy situations, the constant niggling feeling of being a bully, a manipulator, a liar.

At first, I worried that the dual narratives of Krouse’s personal story and the football team’s rape case wouldn’t coalesce. Sadly, they fit together all too well: “I hadn’t been trying to provide a rape case to a bunch of white men in black robes who didn’t matter to me,” Krouse writes. “I had been trying to prove it to my mother.

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