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Murder In Spokane: Catching a Serial Killer Hardcover – May 22, 2001

3.3 out of 5 stars 60 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

A serial killer is the most elusive prey a homicide detective ever tries to catch. Cunning and obsessed, the serial killer is a psychopath who gets better at what he does each time he kills and learns how to dominate and control not only his victims, but the police, the media, and the public. But in the city of Spokane, Washington, as many as 10 prostitutes had been murdered and dumped in public places over the course of a decade without the public, the local media, or the police force even raising an eyebrow. Then, in August of 1997, two bodies were discovered in separate locations on the same day, and finally the city--with the coaxing of detective turned radio talk-show host Mark Fuhrman--had to take notice.

Fuhrman, whose name became infamous during the trial of O.J. Simpson, is a man who cannot leave detective work behind despite having left the police force. The Spokane murders took place a mere 90 miles from his home, and soon he was a regular on a local talk show, analyzing the police task force, the evidence, and the killer, and working the case as if it were his own. Fuhrman takes the reader into the mind of a serial killer as he mulls over the meaning of the bodies found the day after Christmas, the plastic bags over the victims' heads, their missing socks and shoes. Meanwhile, the insular and tight-lipped police task force ignores important clues while more women disappear and then turn up brutally murdered. While there is no secret to how this story turns out, Fuhrman's take on the investigation is hard-hitting, and his portrayal of serial killers destroys any mystique they may have. With this third book, Fuhrman firmly establishes himself as both a sharp detective and a very capable crime writer, with the ability to shed light on the dark world of murder and the law, and a commitment to tell the truth whatever the consequences. --Lesley Reed

From Publishers Weekly

While true-crime writer and ex-cop Fuhrman (Murder in Greenwich, Murder in Brentwood) may not rank high on America's Favorite Cop lists, he has scored well on the bestseller lists with his expos‚s of murder investigations gone awry. His latest offers the highest body count yet. In 1997, Fuhrman, who now lives in idyllic Idaho, discovered a serial sex killer lurking in his backyard in Spokane, Wash. With local radio jock and fellow murder groupie Mike Fitzsimmons, Fuhrman insinuated himself in the investigation of one of the longest-running killing sprees in recent memory. A man was luring drug-addicted prostitutes into his vehicle for the purposes of rape, sexual torture, and, after murdering them, necrophilia. As horrific as the crimes were, the disastrously sloppy investigation by the Spokane PD Task Force, Fuhrman concludes, dawdled inexcusably for two years, during which nine more women were murdered. Fuhrman plays himself up as an all-American, animal-tendin', Grape Nuts-eatin' ex-cop with no interest in psychology, only in getting his man. "A working detective has no hope of understanding what even experts who devote their lives to the study of criminal psychology can't figure out," he notes. Richard Yates was eventually apprehended by the police and is serving a 408-year sentence. Fuhrman's account is unabashedly uninterested in exploring the darker recesses of the human psyche. It is about why a mass murderer of undesirables went unapprehended for years. As such, it is an extraordinary story, even if the author's storytelling abilities are anything but. (June)Forecast: With the help of Fuhrman's 25-city radio campaign and 15-city TV satellite tour, as well as personal appearances in New York, Portland, Seattle and Spokane, this should live up saleswise to Fuhrman's previous titles.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Cliff Street Books/HarperCollins; 1 edition (May 22, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060194375
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060194376
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,766,700 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jeffrey Clinard on May 27, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mark Fuhrman's book on the Spokane prostitute murders provides a solid insight on the way - and the way NOT - to conduct a homicide investigation.
The book chronicals the history of the prostitute slayings, police actions, and Fuhrman's insights into the case. Fuhrman points out where police errored in their decisions, and provides his own tips on how to better run an investigation into catching a serial killer. He makes good cases for both more public information, and continues the theme of his previous books into how proper investigation techniques can be used to solve any crime.
The Spokane police eventually caught the killer through a lot of hard work. Furhman Monday morning quarterbacks the investigation, showing how the killer could have been caught two years earlier. While this might seem presumptious coming from most, I've already given Fuhrman credit where credit is due for his work documented in "Murder in Greenwich".
The book is a good read, and I look forward to his next. In the future, I'd kind of like to see a book from him with a collection of difficult crimes that efficient and proper police investigation managed to crack.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is interesting because it allows us some further insight into the personality of Mark Fuhrman, one time LAPD detective, and fall guy for the prosecution in the O. J. Simpson debacle. It is interesting to see how Fuhrman's loyalties and perspective have changed from the siege mentality of a beleaguered cop to the free and easy skepticism of a freelance journalist. One thing is clear: he has extended his fifteen minutes of fame by becoming a writer of true crime tales destined for the best seller list. This is his third. I didn't read Murder in Brentwood (1997), having had my fill of the Simpson tragedy, but I did read Murder in Greenwich (1998) and it wasn't bad. This is an even better book, more skillfully written, about murders committed by Robert Lee Yates Jr., a sickie who might be dubbed the "Ordinary Joe" of serial killers, if one can ever say that a serial killer is ordinary.

This is also interesting from the point of view of an ex-detective from the big city, trying to have some significant impact on a sensational case. Fuhrman and his buddy, Spokane radio talk show host, Mike Fitzsimmons, provide us with some insight into what it's like playing detective in their spare time while second guessing the police on a weekly basis over the radio. Fuhrman insists that he's still a cop at heart, but don't tell that to the Spokane police (or to the cops in Greenwich, Connecticut either). Regardless, his critique of the way the Spokane police handled this string of murders is well worth reading. His main point is that faulty police work allowed Yates to remain free long after they should have had the goods on him. As Fuhrman puts it, "The task force was supposed to be chasing a killer.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book is not nearly as good as Murder in Greenwich, where Fuhrman focuses on the case at hand and actually puts the clues together to solve a murder.
In Murder in Spokane, you think the same situation is going to happen. Then you realize about halfway through the story that he isn't analyzing clues at all, but is focusing on his personal experiences with the police denying him information. Overall, this book is much more self-centered than Murder in Greenwich. Fuhrman simply doesn't have access to real clues in the Spokane situation, he is totally out of the loop and not involved in the investigation. Unlike Murder in Greenwich, where he was doing a real investigation from start to finish.
I do not recommend this book. It is about Mark Fuhrman's personal experiences when the murders were happening, not about the murders themselves. Fuhrman also has nothing to do with finding the killer, unlike his previous books. There is also almost no detail about the murders or crime scenes. One would expect details, but since Fuhrman can't gain access to the police files, there are no details. You would think at some point he could file a FOA request for info, but he doesn't. He also doesn't point out that the first murder victim was wrapped in an Army blanket, and that the murderer turned out to be in the Army. I thought this was an important correlation.
Oh well. Maybe the with next book Fuhrman will get closer to the case, instead of sitting on the sideline like in this one.
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Format: Hardcover
I debated with myself whether to give this 3 or 4 stars. If I could, I'd give it 3 1/2. Let me start by saying that the first book I read by Mark Fuhrman was "Murder in Greenwich", which I loved by the way. I gave it five stars. It was a real page-turner. Next, I read "Murder in Brentwood", which was also very good (four stars). Needless to say, I was very much looking forward to his next book, so I got it even before it came out in paperback, which I never do! Now, for the review. I did enjoy reading this book. However, it wasn't nearly as compelling or exciting as the other two. While he did have a good story to tell, it just wasn't as interesting to me as his others and it wasn't something that kept my full attention. Why? I'm not exactly sure. Maybe because there weren't as many twists and turns in this story. Maybe it was because I didn't develop a real connection to the victims because there were so many. On the other hand, as much as I would hate to admit it, it could be because the cast involved did not include the likes of the rich and famous. If you liked his other books, you should find this one enjoyable, but I would suggest waiting for the paperback.
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