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Zodiac Mass Market Paperback – April 1, 1987

4.1 out of 5 stars 145 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"SHE WAS YOUNG AND BEAUTIFUL BUT NOW SHE IS BATTERED AND DEAD. SHE IS NOT THE FIRST AND SHE WILL NOT BE THE LAST." Few cases in the history of true crime are as colorful and intriguing as that of Zodiac, the bizarre gunman in an executioner's hood who hunted the streets of San Francisco in the late 1960s and sent dozens of taunting letters to the police. Robert Graysmith provides ample details about the police investigation, including the full text and photos of most of the letters. Zodiac is an excellent starting point not only for the casual reader, but also for those interested in retracing the author's steps in order to pursue their own ideas about who the killer may have been. This book has been praised by the San Francisco Chronicle, the very paper in which the Zodiac's eerie messages and cryptograms were published: "Graysmith's taut narrative brings the horror back with jolt upon jolt."

From Library Journal

From 1968 to the early 1970s, the self-styled "Zodiac" killer made headlines in the San Francisco Bay Area. In random attacks, he is known to have murdered six persons; in a series of letters to newspapers, which sometimes included cryptograms, he boasted of many more. To this day, the infamous case remains unsolved and surprisingly little has been written about it. Graysmith, a San Francisco Chronicle staff member, was obsessed with the case from the beginning and he has continued to investigate it as an amateur sleuth. Except for "Zodiac" himself, the author now knows more about the case than anyone. In this full, chronological account, which will fascinate true crime readers, he speculates about the most likely suspect. Recommended. Gregor A. Preston, Univ. of California Lib., Davis
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley; Rei edition (April 1, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425098087
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425098080
  • Product Dimensions: 4.4 x 1 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (145 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #85,788 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
I bought this book after seeing David Fincher's excellent film "Zodiac" and the book is even better! It's a real page turner! It's in diary format and is very suspenseful, told in mystery style. I was expecting a fact by fact book, but this is a story and the book progresses as each suspect is identified. Even though I knew that the killer is not caught, I kept hoping that he would be caught. Robert Graysmith is a very good writer and a great investigator! I enjoyed this book so much that I immediately bought "Zodiac Unmasked". If you enjoy a page turning, suspenseful book, then read "Zodiac"! You won't be disappointed!
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Format: Audio CD
I have just recently begun to listen to books on cd. I had read Zodiac many times and also read the follow up book Zodiac Unmasked and they are still best-sellers today. This is extremely well researched and well presented. I loved having this book on cd and I don't think any other author could have done a better job on the topic. I listened it to it on a road trip and it was so entertaining and scary.. Even in the daytime!

This book is VERY good! Robert Graysmith worked at the San Francisco chronicle during the time period this all happened and he did his share of research. He put together a very informative book about one of the killers who taunted police while killing many and GETTING AWAY WITH IT! I think this is a must read for any true crime fan and especially fans of the Zodiac. I thought Robert Graysmith did an excellent job on writing this book and I learned a lot about the case from this book.

It is above and beyond your typical and ever-so-predictable generic ... true crime paperbacks. This book is the best about the most enigmatic case in the history of true crimes story. I love good written book and this book is very very well written. I give this one 5 stars because of the drama, the tension and the facts that give action to this book.

Full/comprehensive account of the most chilling (in my opinion) true-crime story of the 20th century. If you don't mind hearing a writing style comparable to a Police Report, than you'll really enjoy this. I can't imagine a more detailed analysis of those crimes and, since Graysmith was close to the action, his opinions carry weight. From what I can tell, this is the best account available of these crimes and I would recommend this audio cd highly.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Robert Graysmith is no Vincent Bugliosi, but he does know more about the Zodiac killings than anybody else on the planet. The detail about each of the five known killings is incredible, and Graysmith unearths another killing that occurred in Riverside prior to the Zodiac killings that may have been committed by the same person. And he does come up with a likely suspect.

Prior to reading ZODIAC, I rented the David Fincher movie. I was expecting the movie to follow the book pretty closely, but there are some composite characters in the movie. Graysmith tells us about three main suspects; whereas, there were only two in the movie. Graysmith also speculates (pretty much believes) that Zodiac went right on killing after the murder of cab driver Paul Lee Stine. He lists 41 possible Zodiac murders, the last one occurring in 1981. Graysmith also had access to the Zodiac letters in which the murderer claimed credit for many more murders than those generally attributed to him.

Graysmith has some annoying habits. For one thing, he describes every stitch of clothing one of the early murder victims is wearing. He's also awfully skittish about using real names. So many people are given pseudonyms this might as well be fiction. Later on he goes into elaborate detail about the phases of the moon, and how the Zodiac could have been planning his murderers to correspond with them. Then there's the sycophantic description of Filcher's movie as an addendum to the book. Here's Graysmith's description of Filcher's attention to detail: "His eye is calculating, more precise than any mechanical optics."

Something else that I find puzzling was the police's inability to keep track of two of the victims who lived through Zodiac attacks, Mike Mageau and Kathleen Johns.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This was one of the rare books that I could not read close to bedtime. I'm fairly inured to horror and to the stories of other infamous murderers, but Zodiac really gives me the spooks. The story of Zodiac's attack on a young couple at Lake Berryessa is one of the most chilling things I have ever read--the stranger approaches, disappears, reappears wearing a black hood, converses with the youngsters, ties them up, then calmly and coolly says "I'm going to have to stab you people," and then goes about doing just that. I would rather meet up with Ted Bundy or Jack the Ripper than I would Zodiac. I was initially worried about the author's presentation because he included a lot of unimportant details about events occurring before the time of the murders and made comments like the air was "exhilarating" on a particular day--things he couldn't have known and which don't matter at all anyway. However, he quickly settled in to a gripping narrative of events, and his own work on the case was presented fairly well and reveals to us the shifting thoughts and theories he had about the case and the perpetrator who was never caught.
Graysmith tells a good story, but his opinions on the case can be questioned. Also, I have to mention the fact that he was the editorial cartoonist of the San Francisco chronicle at the time and not an investigative journalist. I know this fact should not lead me to discount his conclusions, but it does make me wonder how he came to get as much access to this case as he did. The enigmatic ciphers the killer sent to the newspapers represent unique additions to an already mystifying series of murders, and this book published much of this material for the first time.
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