by Edna Buchanan ‧ RELEASE DATE: Oct. 22, 1979
Horror on the rocks: the confused but harrowing story of a compulsive criminal. Buchanan reports on crime for the Miami Herald. In 1976 she happened upon a bonanza in the shape of Robert Frederick Carr III, an intelligent and highly articulate monster whose arrest had just ended a hideous career of rape (15 victims, male and female) and murder (two boys, two young women). Carr talked into Buchanan's tape-recorder, and she reworked the transcripts into a loose and unconvincing dramatic structure. She reverses the order of events for no good reason, and ends with an anticlimactic account of how Carr led police to lonely wooded areas in Florida, Louisiana, and Connecticut, where he'd buried the people he killed. Buchanan also makes a half-hearted attempt to explain her subject's demonic behavior by quoting bits of testimony from the psychiatrists who examined him. But the doctors, for the most part, have nothing to offer but clichâ€šs and confusion. When all is said and done, we understand Cart no better than did the 15 terrified wretches who hitched a ride with him. Still, clumsy as it occasionally is, the Carr-Buchanan tale has a compelling power and intensity. There's an eerie methodical perfection to Carr's crimes, both physical (in the use of his ""kit""--the disconnected car-door handle to trap his victims, the knife to threaten, the rope to tie, and the vaseline to sodomize them) and psychological (in his uncanny knack for befriending and ultimately mesmerizing his passengers, so that after days of sickeningly brutal treatment they would never call for help or try to run away). And best--or worst--of all, there is Carr's incredible lucidity: an eidetic memory, an eye for significant detail, and an effortless intuitive grasp of human relations. The man, unquestionably, is a kind of genius, and if his truncated autobiography lacks both philosophical depth and artistic coherence, it largely makes up for it by long passages of almost hypnotic interest. The chapter on the abduction and elaborate torture of two eleven-year-old boys from Miami is absolutely haunting--and heartbreaking. If Dostoevski were around, he'd take notes.
Pub Date: Oct. 22, 1979
Page Count: -
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1979
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