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Perfect Victim: The True Story of the Girl in the Box Mass Market Paperback – July 1, 1989

164 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Some may find it unbelievable that a 20-year-old Oregon woman could be enslaved by a sexual sadist for seven years--that even after being able to move freely during the day, she would allow him to lock her into a wooden box every night. Perhaps it's a minor failing of this book that the authors do not elaborate on the psychology that made her such a "perfect victim." In other respects, though, the story is well told, with an impressive accumulation of details: the woman's capture, the tortures she endured, the brainwashing techniques, the fiendish contraptions her captor constructed, the slave contract he made her sign, and the increasingly strained relations within the peculiar family that included master, slave, wife, and child, all inside a single-wide trailer. As well-known attorney and author Vincent Bugliosi writes, "A gripping and disturbing story of the secret life of apparently normal people. At once, horrific and engrossing."

From Publishers Weekly

Hitchhiking from Eugene, Ore., through northern California in 1977, 20-year-old Colleen Stan thumbed a ride into hell. Her kidnappersa sadistic lumber mill worker, Cameron Hooker, and his battered wife Janicesubjected her to seven years of torture and sensory deprivation. She was made a sex slave, kept locked in a wooden box and brainwashed into believing that an underground network of sadists would recapture her if she attempted to escape. Did Colleen fall in love with Cameron and make herself a willing partner in a love triangle, as the Hookers' defense lawyer asserted? The jury found otherwise, convinced by the evidence marshalled by coauthor McGuire, state prosecutor in the case, a trial that journalist Norton attended in 1984. Not for the squeamish, this harrowing tale shuttles between the courtroom and the grisly doings in the Hookers' basement.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Dell; Reprint edition (July 1, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0440204429
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440204428
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (164 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #116,355 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

73 of 78 people found the following review helpful By Deidre Huesmann on May 15, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
When I was browsing through the True Crime section at my local bookstore, I asked my sister to help me narrow down my choices: a Jeffrey Dahmer piece, the BTK Killer book, or one about a girl kept in a coffin beneath a couple's bed for over 7 years. She immediately recommended the latter.

And she was right--to a point. The subject is disturbingly fascinating for a True Crime novel about a victim who isn't murdered. How could they keep this young woman so carefully hidden away for so long? It seems outlandish, but the more you uncover, the more you realize that it IS feasible, and it's absolutely horrifying to imagine what Colleen Stan went through.

But the book is written by the DA who prosecuted her captor, and it shows.

We learned virtually nothing about what makes Cameron Hooker tick. Almost nothing is revealed about Colleen's past. And Janice Hooker, the most in-depth study, is more an accomplice/side victim than anything else.

But we learned all about the DA's marital problems, the vacation to reconcile her marriage, the eventual divorce, how cute her daughter is, how much she loves children, and virtually her every reaction to minute things--when all those small details should have been put into Colleen's story.

I could have enjoyed this so much more, but honestly--why should I care about the DA's personal problems? I read this book to learn about the crime, the victim, the captor, the associates. I didn't read it to hear about the author's personal issues throughout the trial.

Snip out those details, and this book would have gotten 1.5 stars more, if I could.
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57 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Ellen on January 7, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book has been around for a few years now. I first read it about six years ago and have since read it again. It's just as good the second time round. A very shocking story of sex,brainwashing and sick perversions. Not for the easily disturbed. Very graphic details and very shocking in places. On reading the back of the book I almost laughed at the idea of someone being held captive for seven years and being brainwashed into staying. On reading the book however,you come to realise just how this can happen and how frighteningly real it was for the poor victim, Colleen Stan. All the way through I couldn't help but wonder why on earth Colleen's family didn't suss out that something was going on. I mean, hey, your daughter suddenly goes missing and when she finally turns up she is like a different person and totally controlled by two individuals that she normally wouldn't associate with. Surely someone must have thought that something was up? Really excellent read. Buy it,don't borrow it as you'll definitely want to read it again.Comes with quite a few photos too. Powerfull and compelling.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Cris on July 25, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
true story about seven years in captivity full of deprevation, sexual abuse and torture. Colleen Stan is an amazingly strong person to be able to live through her ordeal at the hands of Cameron Hooker. This book starts with her abduction while hitch hiking, ironically she refused a few rides because she felt unsure about them. Along comes they typical American family and she accepts their offer of a ride.
The story continues back and forth between her captivity and the investigation/trial after her escape. While reading the chapters about Colleen you often wonder why she didn't try to escape when she was free of the box or when she was allowed certain freedoms. But, I guess that unless we were in her situation we would never be able to comprehend exactly what she was feeling.
This book is a great read, however, it's extremely graphic at times and is not for the weak at heart.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Privacy, Please on June 5, 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Cameron Hooker appeared to the outside world as a quiet, hard-working, mild-mannered young man with a nice, quiet wife. But inside, Cameron was driven by sadistic fantasies of having a dungeon of female slaves totally under his control, to torture, have sex with, and order about as he wished. Cameron put many hours into studying up on psychological dominance and constructing appropriate places and devices to keep and torture a slave, before he put his plan into action to actually grab one. His mousy wife, not wanting to be tortured herself and not wanting to lose her husband, went along with the plan. Cameron's first attempt was a failure in that he went too far and actually killed his victim. His second attempt, in which he kidnapped Colleen Stan, was more successful in that he managed to keep her around for years, after breaking her psychologically through torture, deprivation and isolation. As part of his coercion, he showed her an official-looking "slave contract" saying that if she escaped, she would be hunted down and killed by a national network of slave masters, and her loved ones would also be killed.

Colleen Stan was fortunate in that she managed to survive Cameron's tortures, including being hung by her arms for extended periods, burned, electrically shocked, and kept in a coffinlike box under the Hooker's bed in a sweltering trailer for several days with almost no water. Eventually she was able to forge a bond with Cameron's neglected and fearful wife, who helped her escape and also helped the authorities bring Cameron to justice. Colleen was not so fortunate in that the prosecutor in her case, Christine McGuire, apparently wrote this book about her experiences and did not share the profits with Colleen, which is pretty sleazy in my opinion.
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