Father cast as villain in Kissel book

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 07 October, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 07 October, 2007, 12:00am

The father of the banker murdered by Nancy Kissel said he 'takes umbrage' at US author Joe McGinniss for casting him as the 'family villain' in the tragedy in a book to be released next month.

Bill Kissel, who received an advance copy of Never Enough from McGinniss last week, described the work as 'a calumnious book designed to hurt the living'.

He said the author had gone beyond poetic licence to ascribe words and thoughts to him and his late son Robert, and many parts of the book contained hearsay or factual errors.

The book is a tragic tale of two brothers murdered a world apart.

Robert Kissel, a 40-year-old millionaire banker with Merrill Lynch, was drugged and bludgeoned to death by wife Nancy in their Parkview flat in 2003. Three years later, his brother Andrew, 46, was found tied up and stabbed to death at his home in Connecticut, as he was due to plead guilty to having swindled banks, companies and others.

Greed was the root of the double tragedies, the author argues. The book says an expat life in Hong Kong was not enough for Nancy Kissel, who is serving her life sentence in Tai Lam Prison and will have her appeal heard next April.

She wanted to be with her TV repairman lover, Michael Del Priore, in New Hampshire.

It contends only money mattered to the two dead victims, in a constant struggle to measure up to the expectation of a father who - in McGinniss' eyes - was unforgiving, iron-fisted and would only measure the value of a person by the money he earned.

'Festering was what the Kissels did instead of breathing,' he wrote.

Mr Kissel, 79, told the Sunday Morning Post: 'It seems as if I am the victim of his book. How can the father of Robert and Andrew become the villain in this tale of murder?'

Asked if he would consider legal action, he said: 'I am not interested in a libel suit - only the fair truth.'

Jane Clayton, younger sister of Robert Kissel and custodian of his three children, said she did not plan to read the book. 'I am deeply upset that this book is being published as it is not in the best interest of the children,' she said.

'I have requested that this book not be published to protect the children and was not interviewed by the author because it is not constructive in my family's, and especially the children's, healing.'

McGinniss became known for his first best-seller, The Selling of the President, in 1968, on the election campaign of Richard Nixon.

Mr Kissel said he initially trusted McGinniss and agreed to speak to him. But he said problems arose when he told him Mrs Clayton did not want to talk to him, to preserve the family's privacy.

The author then sent him an e-mail saying 'she must have had something to hide', Mr Kissel said.

'I took this as a sign of a subtle form of blackmail to get Jane to talk.'

McGinniss said: 'I'm sorry he [Mr Kissel] didn't like it, though not entirely surprised. I'll be able to address his comments in more detail once the book is actually published.'