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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars JUST THE FACTS...
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...
Published on May 30, 2004 by Lawyeraau

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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars From Mother Of One Of Russell's Victims
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...
Published on July 23, 2000


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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars From Mother Of One Of Russell's Victims, July 23, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Charmer: The True Story of a Ladies' Man and His Victims (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
4.0 out of 5 stars JUST THE FACTS..., May 30, 2004
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This review is from: Charmer: The True Story of a Ladies' Man and His Victims (Mass Market Paperback)
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Olsen is the best of the "true crime" writers, February 17, 1998
By 
hmcl65@aol.com (Atlanta, Georgia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Charmer: The True Story of a Ladies' Man and His Victims (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
4.0 out of 5 stars George will remain in my memory for a long time., July 22, 2000
This review is from: Charmer: The True Story of a Ladies' Man and His Victims (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
5.0 out of 5 stars The Charasmatic Killer, May 15, 2007
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This review is from: Charmer: The True Story of a Ladies' Man and His Victims (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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Charmer is a great book about an incredible manipulator., December 26, 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: Charmer: The True Story of a Ladies' Man and His Victims (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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best true crime books, January 20, 2010
By 
This review is from: Charmer: The True Story of a Ladies' Man and His Victims (Mass Market Paperback)
If, like me, your interest in true crime books stems mostly from reading an interesting and comprehensive portrait of the criminal and the world in which he or she grew up, lived and committed his crimes, as opposed to lengthy recitations of the trial or the forensics, then you'll like this book. "Charmer" is a detailed recounting of the life and crimes of George Russell, an African-American serial killer born into a well-off family in a nice suburb of Seattle. George, who clearly had the intelligence and potential to take up many careers, instead became something of a professional party-crasher and ladies' man, who lived with (and off) a series of younger girlfriends and female party pals. Seemingly mild-mannered, George secretly and savagely vented his rage and psychosis through violence against women, eventually committing a string of murders and finally being captured.

The story is told from many different perspectives, showing the research and effort the author put into the book rather than just relying on news reports and trial transcripts. You get a much better sense of the psychology of the killer and the life he was leading, as a result.

My only big complaint with the book is that it includes no photos. The descriptions and characterizations of the people and places in the story are vivid and I would have liked to see some of them.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A chilling tale of a very bizarre killer, February 18, 2005
This review is from: Charmer: The True Story of a Ladies' Man and His Victims (Mass Market Paperback)
The late Jack Olsen was a true crime master, and "Charmer" is one of his best. Olsen knows how to build up the tension when he tells a story; at the same time, he avoids sensationalism, which makes this tale all the more appalling. My only complaint is this: although I appreciate his bowing to the wishes of the victims' families by not including photos, I would have liked there to have been at least one of Russell himself. I'm very curious as to what this man looks like, and I've yet to find a photo of him anywhere.

George Russell's motives can only be guessed at, although it would be apparent to anyone that he had a deep-seated hatred of, and rage against, women. Race was also a huge factor: As an African-American who was alienated from his people, yet never quite allowed to "fit in" with the priviledged white society in which he grew up, he was no doubt filled with anger on that account as well. But as neither Russell (who maintains his innocence) nor his mother is talking, we'll never know the whole story. Olsen does a magnificent job with what he has to work with, however, and his research is impeccable. Jack Olsen will be missed by true crime fans.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Charmed by this Jack Olsen work, October 4, 2010
This review is from: Charmer: The True Story of a Ladies' Man and His Victims (Mass Market Paperback)
I am just starting to get into Olsen's work. It is a shame he is gone and is no longer writing. I worry about the day Ann Rule retires as well. Either way, I enjoyed this book. It has been a long time since I have given up any sleep to read and this book finally did it. I will go ahead and mention it...this is the first true crime book I have read about anyone who wasn't white. That in and of itself makes this a unique read. I wasn't sure if I would be into it but I really got swept into this story of a cruel sociopath.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars hard to put down, October 12, 2009
This is one of the best true crime books I've read. While Jack Olsen's "Son" is more graphic (with an even more twisted perpetrator, if you can imagine that), this story has more content in the witness's and victim's own words. "Charmer" deals less with the trial than most other true crime books, devoting more time to the events prior to George's capture. It's easy to get sucked into this book.
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Charmer: The True Story of a Ladies' Man and His Victims
Charmer: The True Story of a Ladies' Man and His Victims by Jack Olsen (Mass Market Paperback - November 1, 1995)
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