KILLER AMONG US by Joseph C. Fisher


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 A semi-scientific study of modern serial killers. Fisher, a market researcher and author of several books on crime, here addresses a host of American killers, as well as Jack the Ripper. Fisher discusses the infamous, like Jeffrey Dahmer, to good effect, and provides an interesting view of how nearly everyone involved in the case ended up suing each other; one victim's mother even sued Dahmer's parents for bad parenting. The chapter on Atlanta child killer Wayne Williams provides valid insights into his crime spree, which left at least 28 children dead. But Fisher, after the first chapter, seems to lose touch with his point, ostensibly to measure public outcry against the crime and how the community's response affects the killer. Most of the material, however, consists of gory synopses of the crimes, and the book is littered with graphic charts that little serve his purpose. In the chapter on Coed Killer John Norman Collins, Fisher reports, many victims went willingly with the killer despite enormous community pressure to avoid strangers. While Fisher reports this phenomenon, he does little to investigate it or to explain how the excitement of risk could so outweigh the promise of danger in towns under siege. More troubling is his invocation of self-styled psychic Peter Hurkos, who was called upon during investigations ranging from the Boston Strangler to the Coed Killer. Hurkos, long since discredited, is seen here as something of an affable buffoon who sometimes had the right answers, rather than as the last resort of desperate police investigators. The idea of a scientific analysis of a community response to fear is an intriguing one, but this book provides little in the way of real analysis.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-275-95558-3
Page count: 230pp
Publisher: Praeger
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1997