A hybrid of fact and fiction, Bob Pfeifer’s latest is an impressively original look at secret societies and International corruption in the courtroom, all tied into the real life trial of Amanda Knox.
The story is cleverly told through journal entries, interviews and news reports and centers around a hush-hush society of international celebrities called The Strangers (everyone from Dave Grohl and Woodie Allen to Sean Penn and the fictional Branko, a one-time musician and the story’s main protagonist). The Strangers, despite none of its members admitting they are affiliated with it, fight to uncover truth and corruption across the globe, which leads naturally to the real life trial of Amanda Knox, the American student studying in Italy who was charged with the murder of her British roommate Meredith Kercher, a case that has brought charges of corruption involving everyone from the police to the courts in the real world.
Traveling to Italy, Branko finds himself locked in an Italian prison for a crime he didn’t commit, being accused of assault and rape against his ex, who has been stalking him across the globe.
You can’t help but think that Pfeifer – a former member of the band Human Switchboard and his current group Tabby Chinos, and who was once an A&R exec at a couple of record labels – drew on some personal experiences for this book. A few years ago, he pled guilty to federal charges of paying a PI to wiretap his ex-girlfriend who was testifying against him in a drug case and spent more than a few nights behind bars.
Regardless of where the inspiration came from, University of Strangers is a refreshingly original take on fiction/real life. The book also includes a dropcard to download five new songs by the Tabby Chinos. Let’s see Dan Brown top that!
University of Strangers by Bob Pfeifer/160 pages/Softcover/Power City Press/2011