Impeccably researched, memorably gruesome.




An international killer of prostitutes, who was also a distinguished author, gets his 15 minutes of fame in this grisly account.

Johann “Jack” Unterweger (1950–1994), a slender, stylishly dressed Viennese lover of fine clothes and cars, didn’t fit the typical serial-killer profile—until he was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of a German teenager in 1974, who he’d strangled with her own brassiere. To the surprise of prison officials, Unterweger proved remarkably prolific behind bars, penning several plays, poems and the well-received biographic opus Purgatory. The book—which spawned a film adaptation—was deemed a work of altruistic atonement, and Unterweger was released from prison after serving only 14 years of his life sentence. Within the first year after his release, he murdered at least six more Austrian prostitutes. The bodies were discovered as he traveled to Los Angeles, posing as a journalist reporting on Hollywood’s seedy underside. As crime-scene DNA and forensic evidence mounted, both U.S. and international authorities solidified their case against Unterweger, who fled when a warrant for his arrest was issued. After chasing him through Europe and parts of Canada, police finally caught him in Miami, and he was extradited to Austria. On the night of his conviction, the killer hung himself with the same materials he used for his murders: a thin metal wire and cloth straps. Leake’s report spares no particulars. The raw, graphic details of his subject’s intricately calculated murders will surely be a draw for fans of Cold Case Files, especially Unterweger’s penchant for telephoning his victim’s relatives to chant, “I am an executioner…Tonight I have completed my work.” The author posits that Unterweger’s “inner urge to assault” may have stemmed from a tumultuous childhood during which his mother, a Viennese prostitute, relegated him to the care of her corporally abusive, alcoholic father.

Impeccably researched, memorably gruesome.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-374-14845-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sarah Crichton/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2007

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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An extraordinary true tale of torment, retribution, and loyalty that's irresistibly readable in spite of its intrusively melodramatic prose. Starting out with calculated, movie-ready anecdotes about his boyhood gang, Carcaterra's memoir takes a hairpin turn into horror and then changes tack once more to relate grippingly what must be one of the most outrageous confidence schemes ever perpetrated. Growing up in New York's Hell's Kitchen in the 1960s, former New York Daily News reporter Carcaterra (A Safe Place, 1993) had three close friends with whom he played stickball, bedeviled nuns, and ran errands for the neighborhood Mob boss. All this is recalled through a dripping mist of nostalgia; the streetcorner banter is as stilted and coy as a late Bowery Boys film. But a third of the way in, the story suddenly takes off: In 1967 the four friends seriously injured a man when they more or less unintentionally rolled a hot-dog cart down the steps of a subway entrance. The boys, aged 11 to 14, were packed off to an upstate New York reformatory so brutal it makes Sing Sing sound like Sunnybrook Farm. The guards continually raped and beat them, at one point tossing all of them into solitary confinement, where rats gnawed at their wounds and the menu consisted of oatmeal soaked in urine. Two of Carcaterra's friends were dehumanized by their year upstate, eventually becoming prominent gangsters. In 1980, they happened upon the former guard who had been their principal torturer and shot him dead. The book's stunning denouement concerns the successful plot devised by the author and his third friend, now a Manhattan assistant DA, to free the two killers and to exact revenge against the remaining ex-guards who had scarred their lives so irrevocably. Carcaterra has run a moral and emotional gauntlet, and the resulting book, despite its flaws, is disturbing and hard to forget. (Film rights to Propaganda; author tour)

Pub Date: July 10, 1995

ISBN: 0-345-39606-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1995

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