Book Review: The Perfect Father by John Glatt

the perfect father by john glatt
the perfect father by john glatt

Back in 2018, the story of the Watts family murders was making national news – a father had murdered his wife and children, and then went on the news to plea for their safety. The nation had a gruesome fascination with the brutal murders of Shan’ann and her children – for a few weeks it was impossible to see a tabloid without an article about the tragedy. Needless to say, everyone wanted to get to the bottom of why Chris Watts did it, and what exactly happened that night. In The Perfect Father, John Glatt expertly chronicles Chris and Shan’ann’s family dynamic, who Chris was, and what exactly happened to the Watts family.

In the early morning hours of August 13th, 2018, Shanann Watts was dropped off at her Frederick, Colorado home by a colleague after returning from a business trip. It was the last time anyone would see her alive. By the next day, Shanann and her two young daughters, Bella and Celeste, had been reported missing, and her husband, Chris Watts, was appearing on the local news, pleading for his family’s safe return.

But Chris Watts already knew that he would never see his family again. Less than 24 hours after his desperate plea, Watts made a shocking confession to police: he had strangled his pregnant wife to death and smothered their daughters, dumping their bodies at a nearby oil site. Heartbroken friends and neighbors watched in shock as the movie-star handsome, devoted family man they knew was arrested and charged with first degree murder. The perfect mask Chris had presented to the world in his TV interviews and the family’s Facebook accounts was slipping–and what lay beneath was a horrifying image of instability, infidelity, sexual ambivalence, and boiling rage.

In this first major account of the case, bestselling author and journalist John Glatt reveals the truth behind the tragedy and constructs a chilling portrait of one of the most shocking family annihilator cases of the 21st century.

Obviously, the murders of the Watts family were horrific – seemingly out of the blue, Chris Watts murdered his wife and children. Even more twisted, the next day, Chris went on the news and begged for his family’s safe return. The author does an excellent job documenting the unravelling of Chris’ lies and how detectives involved in the case slowly discovered the truth and eventually convicted him.

The really fascinating part of this case was that because Shan’ann was involved in a multi-level marketing scheme, her online presence was immense. She spent hours a day going live on Facebook and posting on Instagram. This abundance of content really gave a lot of insight into Shan’ann’s psychology and life that you don’t often see in these kinds of cases. The author expertly curated her online presence to provide a clear profile of who Shan’ann was, and how her online presence impacted her family.

The attention to detail that John Glatt paid to this story was incredible – he began The Perfect Father by exploring how Chris and Shan’ann met, the early years of their marriage, and Shan’ann’s obsession with social media. The story was succinctly told – Glatt didn’t linger longer than necessary on the couple’s history, he provided enough backstory to give context to the murders and then dug into the case. This was definitely the best account of the Watts murders that I’ve come across – Glatt presents the facts without his own speculation or bias – he even highlighted the fact that Chris Watts is a notorious liar and that the events of the murder are partially based on his biased and objective testimony.

The Perfect Father is an incredibly well documented and well curated description of the horrific murders of the Watts family. It’s clear in every paragraph how thoroughly John Glatt researched the story and the attention to detail he had. Be sure to have a box of tissues on hand, this is an incredibly emotional read with truly heartbreaking and grisly moments. If you’re a fan of the podcast My Favorite Murder or Sadie by Courtney Summers, you’ll definitely be fascinated by this gruesome story. 5/5

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