And the Sea Will Tell

A Shocking True Story of Murder on a South Seas Island

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Title: And the Sea Will Tell
Published by: W. W. Norton & Company
Release Date: 04/17/2006
Pages: 730
ISBN13: 978-0393327960


Alone with her new husband on a tiny Pacific atoll, a young woman, combing the beach, finds an odd aluminum container washed up out of the lagoon, and beside it on the sand something glitters: a gold tooth in a scorched human skull. The investigation that follows uncovers an extraordinarily complex and puzzling true crime story. Who has been killed, and who has committed murder?

Seven years before, a hardy and self-reliant San Diego yachtsman had convinced his wife to embark on the dream of a lifetime. They would sail their boat, the Sea Wind, to deserted Palmyra Island, 1,000 miles due south of Hawaii, in order to pursue a Robinson Crusoe adventure, away from the noise, dirt, and crime of civilization. At the same time, an embittered ex-con persuades his passionately loving and trusting girlfriend to sail to Palmyra and try to set their lives straight. The lines between these couples are soon drawn. Arrogance, envy, sexual obsession, and a grim struggle against nature are the volatile elements that erupt into a murder of almost incredible savagery.

For the first time, Vincent Bugliosi, who recounted his successful prosecution of mass-murderer Charles Manson in Helter Skelter, is seen in an unfamiliar role: the nation’s most celebrated prosecutor defends someone charged with murder, and is challenged as much by his client’s enigmatic personality as by the overwhelming damning evidence in the murder trial. Undaunted by scores of government witnesses, expert testimony, and a hostile judge, he responds with a defense that is a classic of tenacious spadework and courtroom brilliance. Step by nerve-racking step, Bugliosi reconstructs the crime for the jury. Only his ability to draw hidden inferences from the evidence can produce the stunning surprises of his final summation.

A brutal crime on an eerily beautiful Pacific island; an incomparable legal mind grappling with the nuances of the law and the fatal quirks of human nature; a courtroom drama whose outcome is in doubt down to the last rap of the gavel: And the Sea Will Tell weaves these threads into the most powerful and unforgettable true crime story of our time.


“And the Sea Will Tell spins a riveting story — a story that could have been the backbone for a classic novel by Herman Melville or Joseph Conrad. Two couples — one wealthy and married, the other an ex-con and his hippie girlfriend — separately set sail for a remote South Pacific island, each hoping to play Adam and Eve in paradise. Instead of getting away from it all, they take it with them — their pasts and prejudices, and the petty battles over status and material goods that arise from their different social classes. Only two people out of the original four live through the experience. One of them has the extraordinary good luck to be defended in court by master attorney Vincent Bugliosi (author of Helter Skelter).”

“Succeeds on all counts… And the Sea Will Tell refuses to relinquish its grip on our imaginations.”
—Los Angeles Times Book Review

“Grips you by the throat from beginning to end.”
—Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Intriguing… if this were fiction the story would zoom right off the plausibility meter.”
—New York Times


And the Sea Will Tell was only my second hardcover book, and it went #1 on the New York Times bestseller list — a heady experience, indeed. It certainly helped that my co-author was Vince Bugliosi, the most successful lawyer-author in the country. That said, the stars were in alignment for this title to have succeeded so well, primarily because the highly-rated four-hour CBS miniseries based on the book — starring Rachel Ward and Richard Crenna — aired the same month the book was released. A year later the paperback edition of the book went to #2 on the New York Times bestseller list. Vince and I always thought we would do another true-crime book together, but that didn’t happen. He went on to write the bestselling book about the O.J. Simpson case, Outrage, and then spent a hunk of his life investigating the assassination of John F. Kennedy, with the resultant book, Reclaiming History, concluding that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in murdering the president, and that no conspiracy existed. Vince died in 2015.