Thursday, September 06, 2007

Polish Author Convicted of Murder He Described in His Novel

Krystian Balam, Polish businessman and novelist, has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for the murder of a rival he suspected was having an affair with his estranged wife, a crime he would have likely gotten away with except for his need to gloat and prove to himself that he was superior to those seeking to solve it. Three years after his victim's body was found, Balam had a bestselling novel in Poland, Amok, that described a murder very similar to the one suffered by Dariusz Janiszewski who was pulled from the water with his hands tied together by a rope that was also looped around his neck.
The killer in Bala's alcohol- and sex-fueled "Amok" gets away with his grisly crime. But on Wednesday, a court in Wroclaw sentenced Bala to 25 years in prison for planning and directing the murder of Dariusz Janiszewski.

The case fueled intense media interest in Poland _ TV crews and journalists crowded the courtroom Wednesday _ largely because of the 2003 novel, in which the narrator, Chris, fatally stabs a woman named Mary after binding her hands behind her back and running the rope to a noose around her neck.

"The evidence gathered gives sufficient basis to say that Krystian Bala committed the crime of leading the killing of Dariusz Janiszewski," Judge Lidia Hojenska said. "He was the initiator of the murder; his role was leading and planning it."
...during questioning by prosecutors in April 2006, Bala confessed to killing Janiszewski, only to immediately retract his statement and suffer a fainting spell. A doctor was called and declared there was nothing physically wrong with Bala. Since then, the author has not spoken to prosecutors.

The court also noted that a psychological assessment found Bala had "sadistic tendencies" and a need to demonstrate superiority. Experts said the narrator-killer in his book bears a psychological resemblance to Bala.

"Amok" is a work of pulp fiction set in Paris and Mexico, narrated by a young translator who moves from one sexual conquest to another, killing one of his lovers, Mary.

"There are certain similar characteristics between the book's narrator and the author _ shared psychological characteristics, life experiences, studying philosophy, parties, travel," the judge said Wednesday, while noting there were also differences between the fictional and the actual crimes.

The most glaring difference: In the book, the narrator gets away with murder.
Too much ego can be a dangerous thing when a criminal is not nearly as smart as he believes himself to be. I wonder how long it will be before this true story is made into a Hollywood movie...or has it already been done? This reminds me of a movie or a book that I can't place at the moment. Is this a case of life imitating art imitating life?


  1. I think I know which book it reminds you of. You know the one about the ex-NFL guy? Oh wait, he didn't get busted...

  2. I just listened to a short story by Jeffery Deaver that was of this very nature.

  3. I think it's actually quite common for criminals to boast of their crime, but the people they tell tend to be criminals themselves or just too apathetic or scared to tell the police.

  4. What an idiot!! Yeah, I'm with John on this one...reminds me of someone else. I did just read that Barnes & Noble refuses to put OJ's book on the shelves.

  5. I honestly don't know what we'd do without the rampant stupidity and ego that afflict so many criminals. We'd be in much worse shape, that's for sure!

  6. It's amazing, isn't it, guys, that so many criminals need to boast about their crimes. It's their own little way of getting some positive strokes for their life's work, I suppose.

    We would definitely not catch as many of them as we catch if they would just keep their mouths closed...thank goodness that they are too stupid to do that trick.

    The more I think about this guy, the more I come to realize that this theme has probably been used in fiction multiple times. It's just all too familiar.

  7. Boastful or dumb, thankfully. We hope. Who knows how many get away with murder.

  8. Does this guy get to keep the profits from the book sales (especially now that he's been convicted and sales are bound to go way up)? I think that's profiting from a crime. Anyway, one book I won't be buying...

  9. I know that the law would prohibit him from keeping any profits here in the States, Gentle Reader, but I have no idea what the law in Poland (if any) is on this kind of thing.