Much like a thrilling action-adventure movie where the protagonist drops four assailants in 15 seconds with a few strategic blows, the Jeffrey Epstein story requires a suspension of disbelief. Thus far, the revolting life and mysterious death of the New York financier-turned-sex-offender has amounted to little more than the platitude “the bigger they are, the harder they fall.”
But there is more to the Epstein story than meets the eye. Today — to great fanfare — Miami Herald reporter Julie K. Brown, whose investigation into Epstein started the ball rolling downhill, published a comprehensive book on the inevitable destruction of the serial sexual predator. This deep dive into the grim story of the boy born in Brooklyn who went on to hobnob with the jet-set poses a panoply of legitimate questions that need to be answered. Though in many places it is said to read like a novel, this non-fiction book reveals a delay in and perhaps even a corruption of the criminal justice system, including possible crimes for whom no one is held to account.
Who Killed Jeffrey Epstein?
It isn’t merely the action-adventure film that Americans love; they are besotted by a good mystery as well, and it is here where the Epstein story — rife with intrigue — delivers. Did he die by his own hand, or did someone else do the deed? In the well-researched exposé Perversion of Justice: The Jeffrey Epstein Story, Brown provides an engrossing account of the fall of the high-flying financier. However, the cliffhanger remains. In the chapter “Jeffrey Epstein Didn’t Kill Himself,” New York Times book reviewer David Enrich said, “She doesn’t have the goods to substantiate the provocative assertion.”
Having secured advance copies of the book, The Times and The Guardian discussed the campaign to “fix” Epstein’s legal problem back in 2008. Brown fingered attorney and former U.S. solicitor general Kenneth Starr as having played a role in getting Epstein a slap when he should have gotten more of the slammer. Ed Pilkington of The Guardian summed up Brown’s accusations this way: “When Epstein’s lawyers appeared to be failing in their pressure campaign, with senior DoJ officials concluding that Epstein was ripe for federal prosecution, Starr pulled out the stops.”
The Miami Herald reporter-turned-book-author also injected herself into the drama. The Times’ Enrich lauded this self-revelatory aspect of the book:
“The story of how Brown produced this exposé is at times gripping. She describes the needle-in-a-haystack search for victims. She lets us in on the advice her therapist gave as Brown tried to figure out how to connect with victims of sexual violence. She recounts the thrill of getting sources to talk and the fear that suspicious men — including an unsolicited pizza deliveryman — were surveilling her and her reporting partner, Emily Michot. At its best, ‘Perversion of Justice’ courses with Brown’s adrenaline.”
By outward appearance, Epstein led a life of extreme privilege for decades — complete with private jets and a contact list that included presidents and princes alike. His was the high life in mansions where he would entertain the wealthy and powerful with champagne that flowed freely. He imagined himself a leading and edgy philanthropist by pursuing peculiar scientific projects such as transhumanism and cryonics. In supporting such research, Epstein perhaps hoped to become immortal. At that, he may have succeeded. Epstein surely will be remembered, though it will be for his corrupt and vile underbelly. Thus, the story of the life and death of Epstein is less action-adventure or mystery and more Greek tragedy.
Read more from Leesa K. Donner.