From Publishers Weekly
In her exhaustively researched account of the Scott Peterson trial and similar cases, journalist Strong (A Bright Red Scream
) makes a convincing case that there is a growing number of men—whom she calls eraser killers—who murder their wives or girlfriends with premeditation and dispose of the body in an attempt to make both the crime and the victim disappear. They kill, says Strong, because the woman no longer serves any 'purpose' in the man's emotionally desolate world, or because he sees her as an obstacle to a life he fantasizes for himself. Strong traces the phenomenon back to the 1906 case of Chester Gillette, convicted for murdering his pregnant mistress and the model for Dreiser's An American Tragedy
. Between the Gillette and Peterson cases is a series of gruesome murders that Strong contends were committed by husbands who then staged kidnappings or robberies to disguise the murder or simply stashed the bodies so well that they are never found. Her accounts of various eraser killings around the country are compelling, but none more so than her meticulously detailed examination of Laci Peterson's murder. With its blend of novelistic journalism and concise psychiatric research, Strong's exposé will appeal to more than just true crime fans. (Mar.)
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The notorious Scott Peterson (also limned in E Lee Bailey's When the Husband Is the Suspect, reviewed in this issue), tabloid-trumpeted convicted murderer of wife Laci, provides the launching point for Strong's study of what she designates "eraser killing, a form of intimate partner (or domestic) homicide ... committed almost exclusively by men." In eraser killing, the dirty deed is undertaken in such a manner as "to leave behind as little evidence as possible." After laying out the parameters of this sort of homicide, Strong delves into specific cases, from the 1906 case of Chester Gillette, who did in his pregnant mistress, to recent examples. In an urgent style similar to Ann Rule's later writings and Dominick Dunne's Power, Privilege, and Justice TV series, Strong recounts sad story after sad story of heinous male motivations and their effects. Strong on detail, atmospherics, and, without overdoing it, moralistic tut-tutting, she also delivers the gore in a tantalizing manner that true-crime devotees may consider the book's real pay dirt.--Mike Tribby, Booklist. March 1st, 2008