Best-selling author Michael Capuzzo takes readers inside the little-known world of expert crime-solvers, in his new book, "The Murder Room."
Known as the heirs of Sherlock Holmes, the Vidocq Society gathers ace detectives from around the world to solve the world's most perplexing cold cases. The group, formed by freewheeling forensic sculptor Frank Bender, FBI and U.S. Customs agent William Fleisher, and pre-eminent forensic psychologist and profiler Richard Walter, works pro bono and has pledged itself to a grand quest for justice.
"People think of them as wizards, who sort of peep and mutter and go into a backroom and come out and say, 'He did it!'" Capuzzo told "20/20."
Read an excerpt of the book below.
The great hall was filled with the lingering aroma of pork and mallard duck sausage as black-vested waiters appeared, shouldering cups of vanilla bean blancmange. Connoisseurs sat at tables between the hearths under glittering eighteenth-century chandeliers, chatting amiably in several languages. When the coffee arrived, a fine Colombian supremo steaming in its pots, the image of the corpse of a young man of uncommon beauty, lying on his back, materialized in the center of the room.
A gray winter light slanted into the hall, as the midday sun had sailed beyond the city, and the image on the large screen was crisp. The young man's blond locks were matted in a corona of dried blood, his sculpted cheekbones reduced to a pulp. The police photograph had been taken at night in a restaurant alley, and the surrounding scene was obscured in darkness. Yet the strobe light had thrown the young man's face into sharp relief. Out of the shadows of a distant southern night, the stark, wide-open eyes loomed over the room.
It was shortly before one o'clock in the afternoon, and the fifth and final course had been served to the connoisseurs of the Vidocq Society.
"My goodness," said a short-haired young woman in a red dress. Patting her mouth with a napkin, she excused herself from the table and, a hand over her mouth, hurried to the door. William Fleisher, a big man in a magnificent blue suit, WLF embroidered on his custom shirt, sadly shook his large, bearded head. "We need to do a better job screening guests," he said. Richard Walter, his gaunt cheekbones sunken in the wan light, glared at the departing figure. Frank Bender -- clad in a tight black T-shirt and jeans, the only man in the hall not wearing a suit -- whispered to the detective next to him, "Nice legs."
Fleisher shook his head in wonderment at the two eccentric, moody geniuses with whom he had thrown in his lot. His partners were criminologists without peer or precedent in his thirty years with the feds.