Accounts of more famous serial killers like Ted Bundy or Jeffrey Dahmer may have ghoulish entertainment value, but I agree with writer Darcy O'Brien
that this meticulously factual study of child sex-murderer Arthur Shawcross "comes closer to capturing the psychology of a serial killer than anything else I've ever read." The strength of this book (semi-finalist for a 1994 Edgar Award) comes first from the quality of the materials--including first-person interviews with the killer's wives, girlfriends, co-workers, police officers, therapists, and even a prostitute who "played dead" for Shawcross--and second, from Olsen's ability to weave the information into a highly readable story that reveals, above all, the ineffectiveness of our system of rehabilitation and parole. Not only should it have been obvious to everyone, long before he killed anyone, that Shawcross was a ticking bomb of sexual sadism, but he should never have been released from prison to kill again.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
An experienced and skilled writer, Olsen ( Predator ) proves himself equal to the formidable task of studying serial killer Arthur Shawcross. Born in 1945 in upstate New York, Shawcross was perceived as different even in childhood (his classmates dubbed him "Oddie," and elementary school officials called for mental health evaluations). In the early '70s he murdered two children and was sentenced to up to 25 years in prison; he served less than 15 years before he was paroled in 1987. He was difficult to place--townspeople drove him out as soon as his past became known. After three such episodes, parole officials sent him surreptitiously to Rochester, N.Y., where he killed at least 11 prostitutes. He was arrested in 1990 and eventually sentenced to 250 years in prison. During the trial, he claimed that he had been physically and sexually abused by his mother (untrue, the authorities concluded) and that he had committed horrible atrocities in Vietnam (probably untrue). He did not fit the classic pattern of the sociopath, nor did he seem either schizophrenic or paranoid. It remained for psychiatrist Richard Kraus to hypothesize that physiology was the basis for Shawcross's behavior--he diagnosed Shawcross as suffering from a metabolic ailment known as pyroluria and an abnormal genetic constitution. Told by Olsen with contributions from others affected by Shawcross's crimes, the story is a triumph of true-crime writing. Literary Guild, Doubleday Book Club and True Crime Book Club selections; optioned for a TV miniseries; author tour.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.