Brooklyn resident Cutter Wood shakes up true crime genre in new book

“Love and Death in the Sunshine State” has been called “a smart, engrossing true-life noir that weaves meditations on love and the literary life, all set amid the palm trees and seedy motels of Florida’s steaming coastline” by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich. While the book is set in Florida, its author, Cutter Wood, lives in Bedford-Stuyvesant. He will appear at Greenlight Bookstore in Fort Greene on April 17 for the book launch.

Image courtesy of Algonquin Books
Image courtesy of Algonquin Books

Refracting a provocative story of love and murder through a lens clouded by ambiguity, Wood’s remarkable debut is, like Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood,” a searing blend of the documentary and the literary. As Wood embeds himself in the investigation of the mysterious murder, he comes to explore not only the circumstances leading up to a woman’s death, but the darkness that can lead love down a dark path.

The crime at the center of the story is the murder of Sabine Musil-Buehler, the owner of a local motel on Anna Maria Island off Florida’s gulf coast. Wood, freshly graduated from college, was a guest at the motel just a few months before it was set on by the police, who begin digging up the beach.

Three men are named persons of interest — Musil-Buehler’s husband, her absent boyfriend and the man who stole her car. Wood returns to Anna Maria and is drawn steadily deeper into the case. As his personal investigation advances — an investigation that soon goes well beyond mere facts — he finds himself driven to understand the intimate details of a relationship and how they could lead to murder.

“In 2008, I was launching myself into a relationship with the woman who would eventually become my wife,” Wood writes about the genesis of “Love and Death in the Sunshine State.”

“We had moved in together, I was terrified at the daily struggle to simply be pleasant, and when I learned about the story of William Cumber and Sabine Musil-Buehler, I felt I recognized in this man an attitude different only in degree from the one that I was feeling. I felt I had to learn how a relationship spins to pieces in such a dramatic and fatal fashion … At its center — and this I think is where it differs crucially from other books in this vein — the book is an attempt, via narrative, to understand the impulse to hurt or even destroy, the ones we love.”

 

“Love and Death in the Sunshine State” has been called “a smart, engrossing true-life noir that weaves meditations on love and the literary life, all set amid the palm trees and seedy motels of Florida’s steaming coastline” by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich. While the book is set in Florida, its author, Cutter Wood, lives in Bedford-Stuyvesant. He…

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