The setting is the progressive South United States of the 80s, where education and hard work offer hope for the good life--until mental illness brings tragedy. This is an unusual true-crime book because it's neither a whodunit, nor a manhunt, nor an account of a trial. Instead, it's a character study of a sadistic sexual predator who is all too human in his desperate need for love, and of his family members who need, just as desperately, to believe that their love for him will make them whole again. Authors Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith are adept at teasing out the many-layered subtleties of the criminal mind. Here they create a thought-provoking portrait by alternating passages from the well-educated killer's own diary, with the unfolding narrative of how the revelations of his crimes are affecting his family. It includes a surprising twist, and a powerful scene of confrontation near the end.
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From Publishers Weekly
It would be hard to imagine a more atypical serial rapist and murderer than Richard Daniel ("Danny") Starrett?a handsome, outgoing, considerate, married father of a three-year-old daughter and member of what seemed an ideal American family. We learn early on that he has confessed to five rapes and one murder in Georgia and South Carolina and is now serving 10 consecutive life sentences. Interspersed throughout this account by Naifeh and Smith (Jackson Pollock) is an interior monologue by the rapist presented as "autobiographical sketches," as he tries to come to terms with his crimes. Another important part of this story is the rapist's mother, Gerry, whose frantic efforts were instrumental in saving her son from the electric chair. Gerry gave the authors access to the family as well as to the journals Danny wrote after he was imprisoned. We learn of her gradual acceptance of certain disturbing facts in her own life and how her son's loss of liberty paradoxically freed her from her emotionally inaccessible husband, Richard, and her idealized image of her family. A powerful and perceptive study. True Crime, Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club selections.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.