Cartwheel was a fictional novel based on the murder of Meredith Kercher and subsequent conviction of her roommate Amanda Knox for the crime that took place in Perugia, Italy in 2007. Having read both Amanda’s autobiography and another book filled with details of the crime, I was very familiar with the events surrounding the death. From the first chapter that was told from the perspective of Lily’s dad as he traveled to Argentina after Lily was arrested for the murder of her roommate Katy, I hoped this would read like Defending Jacob. It didn’t.
Instead the chapters alternated between Andrew, Lily and Eduardo, the policeman responsible for investigating Lily. Eduardo was a man with an ex whose erratic behavior may have led to his initial mistrust of Amanda. There was a lot of information provided to give a foundation for why he was so convinced Lily did it. He was not a likable character, which I suppose was the point since he was determined to be a villain in real life as well. (He was accused of framing innocent people and creating evidence to support his case against Americans in multiple cities in Italy.)
There was Andrew who spoke to Amanda’s mom and gave the background for their family. Part of the background that focused on Lily’s awkward behavior was helpful, but some of the things he relayed were totally unnecessary. Andrew recounted times when Lily was somewhat detached and lacked appropriate, but this never rose to the level of a father who knows his daughter is a monster.
Lily’s narrative was focused on her relationship with her neighbor Sebastian. Sebastian was a socially awkward intellectual whose parents had died. The relationship was odd but not very interesting. What frustrated me the most about how much attention the relationship got was that it didn’t offer any insight or new theories into the actual crime. Why bother writing a book to mirror the confusing true crime unless you are going to put a spin on it or come up with your own missing pieces of the puzzle. The author didn’t do those things here. I would have liked to read scenes devoted to the actions that people found so odd about real life Amanda after the actual murder: the kisses in front of the crime scene while Meredith’s body was still inside, the seductive way she taunted her boyfriend with underwear hours after the discovery of the body, the cartwheel inside the police station after she’d been interrogated. The author included these facts in the book, but never expanded upon them to explain whether this Lily was in fact innocent.
That omission was a huge let down for me. I think the author believed this was a gripping tale because it left so many questions about Lily’s innocence. I don’t see it that way because the real story was already confusing. So, to me, a gripping tale would have given the reader more reason to believe in Lily one way or the other. This was a frustrating book I wish I hadn’t read.