After I watched the old TV movie And the Sea Will Tell, I was so fascinated by the real life murder mystery it depicted that I tracked down the book and read it as well. Vincent Bugliosi was a prosecutor and author most famous for the Manson case and Helter Skelter. There was something about his presentation of real life crime that humanized it in a way that made the story compelling and creepy, edging right into scary.

And the Sea Will Tell is about a couple sailing the Pacific and stopping for a time on the idyllic, and as it turns out dangerously isolated, island of Palmyra. Their sojourn was interrupted by the arrival of a young couple low on supplies and high on volatility. Bugliosi won acquittal for the young woman in the case. The mystery of whether the younger adventurers were murderers and just what transpired on that island left me so creeped out with a big echoing WHAT THE HECK? that I never entirely forgot it, even though it’s been quite some time since I watched, then read. That’s a serious combination of real life events and compelling storytelling.

The reason it’s on my mind now is that Vincent Bugliosi has died. When I saw his name, I immediately thought of that intense movie and book and the eerie creep factor hit me again. I may never have read his most famous book, but And the Sea Will Tell left me remembering Vincent Bugliosi with respect, as the prosecutor with a gift for translating the real life horror of true crime into stories that grab you by the imagination and refuse to let go. Apparently forever.