I HAVE LIVED IN THE MONSTER by Robert K. Ressler

I HAVE LIVED IN THE MONSTER

KIRKUS REVIEW

 More of the gory details from the former FBI profiler who coined the phrase ``serial killer.'' Among the other murderers he examines here, Ressler continues from Whoever Fights Monsters (1992) his discussion on John Wayne Gacy and includes new information on Jeffrey Dahmer. He reconstructs his interviews with the two; they're tough going, yet fascinating: Both men express having experienced real surprise when they--as they put it--``[woke] up next to a dead guy,'' and both insist that they don't remember what really happened. Gacy even asserts that his construction crew did most of the killings. But it's clear they do remember, and Ressler, a master of the interview, gets them to admit exactly what they did (for the tenacious, strong-stomached reader only) and, less clearly, why. Ressler is not so much interested in what made these men start killing as in the origins of the feelings of exuberance and omnipotence that wouldn't let them stop. He clearly and persuasively outlines the beginning of Dahmer's and Gacy's careers as killers, but does not provide an adequate explanation as to why these men, suffering deeply from anomie, killed others rather than commit suicide. Ressler's understanding of his subjects, however, is genuine, and he creates convincing portraits of them as evil, cruel, yet somehow pitiable. While the book also deals with some international cases (South Africa's ABC Murders, the Wimbledon Commons murder in England, the Aum cult in Japan), it's obvious that Ressler's heart--and massive ego--belongs to American killers, who started the whole serial-killer industry in the first place. A disturbing catalog of facts lacking a strong context but terribly jarring just the same. (Author tour)

Pub Date: June 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-312-15552-2
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1997




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