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The Last Victim: A True-Life Journey into the Mind of the Serial Killer Reprint Edition

3.4 out of 5 stars 302 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0446608275
ISBN-10: 0446608270
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Jason Moss was a very strange boy: an overachiever, always looking for some challenge, some new way to excel. In his studies, in sports, and, for some reason that he can never explain comprehensibly, seducing serial killers into telling him their secrets. His first "project" was John Wayne Gacy. Moss sent carefully crafted letters to Gacy in which he portrayed himself as a young, naive, insecure gay man who could be easily manipulated. Gacy was suspicious and put Moss through harrowing emotional tests before surrendering his trust, but Moss came out ahead. Gacy fell head over heels for Moss, replying with graphic and disturbing letters instructing him to commit depraved acts for Gacy's vicarious thrills. Moss led him on, convincing Gacy that he was doing these things, but somehow this victory wasn't sufficient. So he extended his efforts to include other jailed killers. Although he experienced some success, amassing a disturbing collection of documents--including detailed sexual prose from Jeffrey Dahmer, disjointed ramblings from Charles Manson, and awkward, violent illustrations from "Night Stalker" Richard Ramirez--his closest relationship was always with Gacy, whom he eventually visited in prison, where even the unflappable Moss learned fear.

The Last Victim challenges the reader to understand not only the twisted psychology of serial killers who kill for pleasure but why and how a young, seemingly bright and healthy young man such as Jason Moss could create such elaborate schemes to ingratiate himself with them. Moss puts his own safety and well-being on the line time and time again, simply to gain these men's trust, to coerce from them some understanding of what makes them do the things they do. And the book gives readers the opportunity to gain this insight without providing serial killers their home addresses--not a bad deal, overall. --Lisa Higgins --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

The subtitle is a slight bit of misdirection: Moss offers us a journey into his own mind, into the mind of someone obsessed with the minds of serial killers. As a UNLV freshman, he corresponded with John Wayne Gacy, then on Death Row. He also accepted collect calls from Gacy, who attempted to talk him into committing incest with his younger brother. Enthralled by his proximity to sociopathology, Moss expanded his list of "psycho pen pals" to include Charles Manson, Richard Ramirez (aka the Night Stalker) and Jeffrey Dahmer. His impulse was to get inside the criminal mind. To do so, he sometimes found it necessary to tailor the truth about himself to fit what he felt the killers wanted to hear: he claimed to be the "grand priest of a cult" in his letters to Ramirez. Despite suffering nightmares triggered by his grisly correspondents, Moss, after contacting the FBI agent who handled Gacy, flew to Illinois to spend his spring break "alone in a locked, unmonitored room with a psychopath who'd raped, tortured, and strangled many boys just like me." Moss succeeds in contrasting his family life and his prisoner contacts, but the insight he offers into the internal logic of the serial killing mind is limited. Moreover, some readers will wonder about his own motivations, especially when he holds forth about the market value of Dahmer's autograph and otherwise participates in the strange, ghoulish culture of serial killer celebrity. Psychotherapist Kottler, one of Moss's UNLV instructors, contributes both a prologue and an afterword. Eight pages of drawings and photos. Major ad/promo.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Vision; Reprint edition (February 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446608270
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446608275
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (302 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #299,057 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
The idea--of assuming a false identity to entice serial killers into intimate, self-revealing correspondence--is great. Unfortunately, the execution (no pun intended) of this idea fell a bit short for me. While the writing is engaging and humorous, I found myself wishing that the book were more inclusive in its breadth and depth. For example, I think a book about this letter-writing project would be ten times more intriguing if it reproduced all the letters written on both sides, complete and unabridged, rather than just including the occasional excerpt here and there. This level of disclosure seems reasonable at least in the case of killers who have since died (e.g., Gacy). To show the full correspondence would allow readers to draw their own conclusions about the killer's mind as well as about the dynamic evolving between the correspondents.
Second, I think the book would be greatly improved by focusing on just one serial killer, Gacy, since that is apparently the only relationship that was ever really developed, and the author's correspondence with the other the other killers is so brief and incomplete as to be a distraction rather than an enhancement to the main interest.
I also would have enjoyed a deeper, subtler, and more complex (hence more haunting) analysis by the author as to how his contact with the killers (Gacy in particular) came to work itself on his own psyche--and how it brought the author into contact with his own dark side. The author conveys his own presence in mostly light, glib, and humorous tones, repeatedly implying that he himself is "normal" and thus capable of empathizing with the killers only up to a point.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Reading some of the previous reviews it's apparent that the author Jason Moss rubbed many the wrong way, I have to wonder though if these readers read the prologue and afterword by Kottler. This book was written by a young man looking back on his experiences, attitudes, beliefs, etc. when he was 18, give the guy a break. I personally found the book engrossing and very suspenseful as well as an intresting insight into the young driven mind of a motivated young man driven to prove himself. The Last Victim is an entertaining and interesting break from the usual true-crime books which tend to sound either sensational or read like a police report. Jason Moss has given us a truly unique and different perspective of the twisted souls that repel and draw us at the same instant into their dark worlds. A definite reccomended read!
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By A Customer on May 27, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
As other reviewers have noted, this book is a fascinating page-turner.
But Mr. Moss's "golly, gee-whiz" attitude is insulting and false. No 18-year-old who had read about serial killers is that naive. He carefully crafted the personas he presented to these serial killers and heavily researched each of them. To be then "repulsed" "surprised" and "furious" when they react to him as he set them up to, is dishonest. He intentionally presented himself to Gacy exactly like one of Gacy's victims. When Gacy then responds to him in kind, Mr. Moss is falsely outraged.
Although Mr. Moss was an 18-year-old who admittedly got in over his head, he spent great pains to research what he was doing. Unlike the "victim" he claims to be, he was much more like the serial killers -- he planned his actions methodically, wanted (and got) a specific kind of response, and knew what he was doing.
To call himself a "victim" and equate himself with those who were killed and unknowingly walked into a spider's web is an inhumane slap in the face to the victims and their families.
1 Comment 26 of 30 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I was not sure whether this book was intended to be an insight into the mind of a killer, or a self-congratulations to the author on his supreme intelligence. While the subject matter of the book itself was very intersting, I was so overcome with dislike for the author that it ruined the entire book. This book is riddled with stories and comments regarding the defendant's intelligence and how "even as a teenager adults were always underestimating him" complete with a story on how he got one over on a stupid adult. Further, he repeatedly criticizes his parents, the same parents who seem to be funding his college education, all the while explaining how intelligent he is and what a wonderful, if over-protective brother he has always been. He is in fact so overprotective that he provides not one, but many serial killers their home address. Including Richard Ramirez, who maintains contact with many satanic cults, including those in the Las Vegas area, where Jason Moss and his lucky family reside. He even goes so far as to communicate with John Gacy while impersonating his brother. Wow, we should all be so fortunate as to have a relative who brings serial killers into our lives. It is bad enough that he is so ignorant as to believe that he can risk involving himself with these persons, but to involve your family and, in particular a younger sibling is disgraceful. Finally, I find it extemely offensive that he refers to himself as the Last Victim, in particular John Wayne Gacy's Last Victim. He is his own victim and until his ego recedes some, he will probably remain so.
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