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Charmer: The True Story of a Ladies' Man and His Victims Mass Market Paperback – November 1, 1995


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback
  • Publisher: Avon (November 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380716011
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380716012
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 4.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,041,890 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

This is the story of George, an African American who grew up in a Caucasian suburb of Seattle, where his unaffectionate mother and racial isolation led him to develop an effervescent personality in order to get along. He became a small-time burglar and an accomplished liar--a wisecracking "smoothy" who pretended to be an undercover detective. George made lots of friends, especially within a subculture of giggly young white women who partied endlessly in upscale Seattle clubs during 1989-90. And he murdered three of them, bizarrely mutilating and "staging" their bodies. The drinks, dancing, and deejays--the group pad where George lived with an adoring coterie of feckless college kids--Olsen gives us the quirky details that make the murderer's well-hidden rage and misogyny all the more shocking. As the New York Times wrote, "Like fine cinema verité, [Charmer] mesmerizes us with the sense of watching real life, unaugmented, move before our eyes."

From Publishers Weekly

Olsen (Son) has established himself so firmly near the pinnacle of true-crime writers that anything from him not a masterwork is somewhat of a disappointment. That is the case with this story of a young African American from a posh Seattle suburb. George Russell Jr., highly intelligent, supremely articulate and supposedly the son of professionals, became a serial killer who mutilated his victims. His story is told largely through transcripts of interviews with police officers, bar personnel and the far younger women he hung around with (at 28, he enjoyed the company of girls of 13 and 14). Beneath his charm, however, lay a pathological hatred of women, so it is not surprising that his career in crime, which began with petty theft and advanced to cat burglary, climaxed with the murders of three females. The book's strength is its lesson that diligent police work can indeed produce results. Russell is now serving a life term. Author tour.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

It's easy to get sucked into this book.
Chad Billheimer
Jack Olsen was one of the great true crime writers and this is one of his better books.
Book Fanatic
That in and of itself makes this a unique read.
E.P. Brookshire

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 23, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I am the mother of one of Russell's victims in Jack Olsen's book "Charmer." George Russell attacked my daughter, she almost died ... she was given the Last Rites while in a coma state at the hospital. My daughter, however, was one of the luckiest of his victims and, by the grace of God, survived his brutal attack. There was much more that could have been told about Russell's brutality and the savagery of his crimes that are not in this book. It took me five years before I had the courage to buy and read "Charmer," but I'm glad I did. His book gives you good insight into this maniac killer. Prison is too good for this animal.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Lawyeraau HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 30, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
The late great Jack Olsen is one of the greatest true crime writers around, along with Ann Rule. With this book, the author explores the life of George Russell, Jr., a young, highly intelligent African-American who lived with his mother, step-father, and half-sister in the affluent Seattle suburb of Mercer Island. There was little to indicate at the time that he would grow up to become a notorious serial killer, murdering three young women before being stopped.
The author gives a fact based account of what happened, relying heavily upon interviews of those who knew George Russell, Jr. It would appear that George was an ingratiating, silver tongued devil, with a propensity for lying. Still, this charismatic Svengali had a following among the very young teens with whom he would associate. He also had a peculiar approach towards women, based probably on the distorted and distant relationship with his own mother, a cold and austere woman who abandoned George to his step-father, when she divorced him.
The story of George Russell, Jr. and his infamous crimes is well laid out by the author in a no nonsense style. Those looking for tabloid sensationalism should look elsewhere. It is the facts, ma'm, strictly the facts, with little attempt at analysis. The book lacks crime scene photographs or even a photograph of the killer around whom this story unfolds. The book is simply a straightforward, take it or leave it presentation of this killer's story without input from the killer. Consequently, the book suffers somewhat from these omissions. Still, it is a well told tale that is sure to interest those with a penchant for the true crime genre.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By hmcl65@aol.com on February 17, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have found that most "true crime" coming out today reflects little "legwork" on the part of the author. It is clear in too many cases that the writer relied too much on official trial and police records. His work is usually, deservedly or not, a paean to the investigators of the crime. Jack Olsen apparently goes way beyond official sources and presents a comprehensive picture of all aspects of the crime, from the perpetrator, to the victims and their families. He gives the police their due, but does not come off as a cop glorifier. "Charmer," while not Olsen's best, is a classic example of the well-written true crimie. It's well worth a read.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By carolyn on July 22, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
One reviewer found this book too much "just the facts, maam." But that's exactly what most mystery fans want. I thought Olsen did a great job of slowing exposing George's sinister character. I wish that the circumstances of his early childhood had been examined more for facts and not just "heresay". I came upon this book by accident, but will certainly read more of Olsen's work. It was a 1-day read for me- couldn't put it down. Carolyn
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 26, 1997
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Charmer was a great book because it was written with help from people who knew this man at different times in his life, some dating back to childhood. It makes the reader ask, "What's up with this guy?" Of course the author does a wonderful job of putting the pieces of this mans' life together slowly and meticulously. I couldn't put it down. Jack Olsen drew me in as if I was part of this crazy web of "friendships" and partying.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By JMack VINE VOICE on May 15, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
George Russell does not fit the mold of most serial killers. The fact that he is an African-American sets him apart immediately. What makes Russell even more unique is his propensity for posing bodies of victims post-mortem. Like an artist seeking attention for his work, he may have killed for noteriety. The theory has also been proposed that he killed women because of anger from his childhood. Whatever the motive, the story of George Russell Jr. is certain to make a reader's skin crawl.

Jack Olsen, one of the premier writers of true crime before his death, does a credible job out recounting the life of George Russell. My only real complaint is that we never get the truth about Russell's childhood/family life until the book is near its end. Russell documents the seduction of several young girls that take Russell into his trust and may be lucky to still be alive. It is remarkable how long the deviant behaviors of Russell were allow to continue out of prison. Were he arrested and convicted for some of his more petty crimes, he have never had the opportunity to murder.

I am surprised that a work of true crime of this caliber is out of print and would hope that it eventually returns to circulation. While George Russell is a lesser known as a killer, his unique crimes are certainly worthy of note for fans of the genre of true crime.
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