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Delving into the mind of a serial killer is something I can quite honestly say that all criminology students would give there right arm to do. To sit face to face with a monster so terrifying that they makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, to manipulate and open this mind and discover what dark secrets it holds. Christopher Berry - Dee has managed just that and as the book unfolds so do the lies and twisted ways of the most evil serial killers to ever walk this earth.
With the likes of carol Bundy, Arthur Shawcross and Ronald joseph DeFeo still plaguing the media with a backlog of films and reconstructions the more popular being the Amityville horror remakes, it is to no surprise that they feature a prominent part throughout the pages of this book. As well as those, the book also features the likes of; Harvey Louis Carignan, John Martin Scripps, Michael Bruce Ross, Aileen Carol Wuornos, Kenneth Allen McDuff and Henry Lee Lucas.
Going back to 1974 the book starts with the story of Harvey Louis Carignan aka "The Want-Ad Killer" The story starts with the capture of this evil perpetrator but it soon scope's back giving in somewhat grisly detail the life and crimes of Harvey Louis Carignan. Each short story presented within the book is similar in its layout. After giving a brief summary of each of the crimes it goes into detail about the profile of the serial killer. For this part of the story the author has used a range of different sources to gather his information, from previous publications and writings of the official investigation and trial. As well as using information already know, he delves deeper and where possible he does his own research on the criminal from interviewing family members, school teachers and other influential people in the serial killers life to discover exactly how and why they became the person they are today.
I won't go into any of the gruesome details of the book as it is of course not to everybody's liking but I must warn that this book is not for the faint hearted. It delves, not only into the horrific and very detailed cases of each of these serial killers but it also features, in their own words, the reasoning's and twisted words from the serial killers
The Ronald Joseph DeFeo case in Amityville is one of the many to feature throughout this book.
themselves. The author not only writes the story from his own perspective but he has allowed the serial killers to have their own part, totally unedited and in their own words they describe some of the crimes they committed and of course there total lack of remorse for those crimes. For example during an interview written in the book between the author and Michael Bruce Ross; Michael gives a rather bold statement which clearly shows his lack of remorse and after reading the horrifics of his crimes its sickening at the least to hear his cold words. Michael is, or was before his incarceration a sexual sadist and serial murder that raped and killed 6 young girls. In his own words to the author Michael coldly states "There was nothing they could have said or done. They were dead as soon as I saw them. I used them. I abused them, then I killed them. I treated them like so much garbage. What more do you want me to say?" The book is filled with comments of the likes from the serial killers themselves but it's not just a book of gruesome telling's and tales, no, it's much much more than that.
Moving on from the more specific details of the crimes and the criminals the book also features many useful paragraphs from professionals such as psychiatrists, criminologists and psychologists. Whenever you find a paragraph in the book which explains a crime, has a statement from the serial killer or even when it delves into the serial killers background there will be a backup paragraph explaining why this could have lead them to becoming a serial killer, why they continued to kill, why they lived a double life, why they showed no remorse, why the victims were targeted. The list of questions goes on as does the answers provided, you will find whilst reading the book that the answers apart from the odd case will be very similar indeed. It all comes down to the nature and nurture question really and what you specifically believe. This book follows more on the nurture path as many of the answers lie awaiting there. You will typically find that a serial killer had a traumatic experience themselves when they were younger whether that be mental, emotional, physical or sexual abuse. There is always something behind the cold façade of a serial killer, something to give a hint as to why they kill, whether it be for power, monetary gain, sexual pleasure or a different reason entirely. Christopher Berry-Dee is not only a great author but he has also managed to manipulate and open the minds of these serial killers for them to tell him in their own words why they killed and more importantly what lead to it. The book holds all of these answers and more, not only does it provide for a compelling read but it has also proved useful to those such as criminologists and psychologists who wish to further study the minds of a serial killer.
Although this book isn't to everybody's taste, as a criminology student I have found it an interesting and informative read. It hasn't helped towards my studies per say and it isn't a book that I would reference within my work but it's always worth bearing in mind some of the information in this book and it has helped in a sense that I now have a wider knowledge of not only the people In the book but also the psychology behind the crimes they committed.
I do think that the book has a lot of gore and graphic details but this is made lighter with the addition of the authors take on serious situations. Throughout the book he uses informal talk, some more appropriate than others but his somewhat twisted humour lightens the intensity of the book and leaves it feeling a little less serious than it actual is. I don't know if this is a good thing but there are parts of the book that make you want to cry and laugh all in the same chapter.
The part of the book (of each short story) that I like the most is the addition of the interviews with the killers themselves. Usually whilst reading a non-fiction book I still can't help but feel that parts of the story have been added for a dramatic effect. With this book however the words come directly from the mouth of the serial killer themselves, nothing has been added for a better read, it is what it is and I find this to be a better read than a book that's half made up for reader satisfaction. The truth in situations such as these is more important I think than having a book made up of false material.
I found the book easy to read and follow, it's very simple in terms of lay out and style. The author hasn't gone to great lengths to use complicated or hard to follow grammar, it's all very straight forward with this book and it doesn't take a genius to work out what's being said. It's all very informal for the majority of parts, especially the pages that contain the letters and interviews between the author and inmate.
The book very much allows you to enter the mind of a criminal, this in itself is an alarming part of the book and it can be very chilling at times. Other books of the same origins that I have read have not had the effect that this one has, out of all the books none of them have really had the connection that this one brings between author and criminal. To follow the flow of believable reading there is also a picture in the book of the author with one of the inmates during an interview for this book giving proof that it is not all bogus.
The only slight niggle I have with this book is that the interviews with the prisoners are over a several year period, the author has spent years gaining the trust of these serial killers before gaining the information needed for his book, this leaves me wondering slightly what information came from what time period but this really is only a little niggle I have and it doesn't affect the overall readability of the book at all.
Overall I have really enjoyed this book and I have read it several times, I suppose you could say it's a bit of light reading, some may prefer to read snippets of a chic flick book, I prefer to pick up a book such as this for a little light reading. I wouldn't really recommend this book for those that aren't fans of such writing but I would highly recommend it for those who are. Not only is it interesting but the author being as talented as he is has managed to make it informative and enlightening. It makes for a really compelling read and I would urge you to give it a try.
What people are saying:
'Terrifying and chilling ... True crime at its best' - Daily Express
'More Horrifying than the Hannibal, and every word is true'- Author
Author: Christopher Berry-Dee
Published by: John Blake publishing
Length: 349 pages
Cost: Amazon - £4.64 E-book - £4.41.
The author has since released further books, namely talking with serial killers 2 and Dead men talking.