Book review – Lust Killer by Ann Rule

Caidyn's review (1)

Lust Killer

4/5

CW: rape, murder, serial murder, and graphic descriptions of necrophilia and amputation of body parts


I feel like my list of content warnings really set the tone for this, didn’t it? But, really, Ann Rule does it again. This is the third book that I’ve read by her and, somehow, she manages to blow me away with each one.

This book covers a serial killer that I had never really heard of. At least, he wasn’t as high profile as Ted Bundy or Jeffrey Dahmer or John Wayne Gacy. His body count is relatively small and what he did isn’t as terrifying as the other men.

I first heard of Jerry Brudos when I watched Mindhunter. He’s the guy who’s in one episode who jerks off to the shoe they bring him. Remember now? That’s Jerry Brudos. In the show, he’s kind of treated like an idiot, like his crimes weren’t that bad when you compare them to Ed Kemper or Richard Speck.

But, Jerry Brudos killed four women. He started off attacking a couple of women as a teenager, taking pictures of them as something to get off on later. Brudos went to an asylum for a few years, then went out to start a family. By all means, he seemed relatively normal.

Yet, he killed four women and tried to abduct another. One of them, he cut off her foot. Another couple, he cut off their breasts and made molds of them. I did warn you in the content warnings that this might be discussed in here.

I really just can’t believe that I’ve never heard of him. He is a serial killer that I know I’m never going to get out of my mind after reading it because he followed the typical trajectory of serial killers. Yet, he operated before “serial killer” was a coined term. He was in jail by the time the interviews were started at the BSU (Behavioral Science Unit; now the BAU) at the FBI.

I think it’s just interesting how history has forgotten him. Despite killing four women and mutilating their bodies post-mortem, he has been eclipsed by later serial killers that operated after they started getting noticed more and we started seeing them everywhere as a society. When I was reading this, he sounds like every other serial killer I’ve heard of, except that he had a foot fetish and that fetish escalated to new heights, then his fantasies about women evolved over the years.

If you’re into this topic, I really do suggest this book. I don’t think that it’s aged too well in some areas — public opinion has changed about biological males wearing women’s clothing, after all; people in drag is pretty damn accepted and celebrated, and it’s not seen as sexual deviancy to the same extent that it was — but the book is damn good. It covers a case that people just don’t hear about anymore.


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Book review – American Predator: The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21st Century by Maureen Callahan

Caidyn's review (1)

American Predator: The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21st Century

5/5

CW: murder/serial murder, psychopathy, kidnapping, rape, suicide, and dismemberment


I read this book in less than 12 hours. Started it while I was waiting on a friend to show up for brunch, kept reading it once I got home, and then just didn’t stop. It’s one of those insane stories that you forget about and then, when you’re reminded with all the details, you can’t help but wonder how you forgot it.

I’ve definitely been exposed to this case through true crime podcasts before this book came out. When I read the description, I only had to read that it was about a kidnapping of a girl from a coffee kiosk in Alaska and that was it. I knew exactly what story this was and what the content would be.

But I entirely forgot the case.

It was like reading it all over again because the story starts at the beginning. Israel Keyes kidnaps Samantha Koenig. Everyone thinks that she’s being held captive for a ransom since that’s how he made it look. Finally, he’s caught and apprehended. Except, it turns out that there are more victims. He operated entirely underground and no one knew that there was even a serial killer. He had kill kits. He studied books written by FBI agents who worked on apprehending serial killers.

The first two parts of this book is about Samantha’s kidnapping. They find out that Israel Keyes is more than what he says he is, along with finding Samantha’s body. (Which was horrific and sad to read.) The second half of the book, or the last two parts, is the detectives and agents working on this case seeing that there was more to the story. We learn about Keyes’ upbringing — completely off the grid and very religious, along with him showing what are considered hallmarks of psychopathy — and his other crimes.

The crazy thing about this case is that literally no one knew that it was going on. People went missing and there was nothing about it. Keyes stated that he operated for around fourteen years. In that time, we have no clue how many he killed. He said he never killed kids, but was that always how it was or did that just start after having a kid? The crazy thing is that he was so meticulous and studied the craft so much that we really don’t know how many victims he had.

And we’ll never know because he took his life.

This book was honestly amazing. I’m still sitting here in shock about this case while I’m writing this up. And we’ll never know more. I would be really surprised if agents were ever able to figure out how many he killed. There are three confirmed kills that he spoke about before his suicide, but there could be so many more across America.

If you like true crime, I highly recommend this book. It’s absolutely chilling to read and it made me realize just how little I actually knew about this case.


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Book review – One of Us: The Story of a Massacre in Norway and its Aftermath by Åsne Seierstad

Caidyn's review (1)

One of Us: The Story of a Massacre in Norway -- and Its Aftermath

5/5

CW: white supremacy, bullying, bombing, racism, Islamophobia, and VERY graphic scenes of violence/shooting of children and child death


This review needs to really start with a warning. While I will recommend this book as an amazing true crime novel for the rest of my life, this book is not for everyone. I have a very strong stomach (so to speak) around acts of violence. That’s because I love horror and true crime and I just don’t get bothered.

But this book bothered me.

Hell, I’m even familiar with the case. I listened to the episodes of My Favorite Murder and Casefile that it’s featured in. So, I knew the case. I was familiar with Anders Behring Breivik and the despicable person that he is. Yet nothing really prepared me for this case. Okay? And I’m going to be discussing the crime that he did, which was, largely, against children.

Anders was never a normal child. He had issues and constantly strove to fit in with people. In the end, he gravitated towards white supremacy and trying to cleanse Norway of the liberal party and, by extension, the Muslims who went to Norway seeking asylum from their war-torn countries.

The book that Seierstad put together was beautiful in a horrific way. My copy of the book is a little over 500 pages and it takes a little over 300 of them to get to the actual crime. The bulk of the book is showing you what Anders was like through the years and how he was radicalized, along with showing you the lives of immigrants who had their lives cut short by him. Amazing kids, too. Kids who would have changed the world if he hadn’t committed this crime.

As I said, I’m going to discuss the crime that he committed. I’m going to start that now, so turn away if that’s something you don’t want to read.

On July 22, 2011, Anders set up a bomb in front of the Prime Minister’s office. It exploded, as he had planned it to, and killed eight people. Everyone was rushing there because they weren’t sure if it was the first of many terror attacks or what was going on at all. While everyone was rushing there, Anders went to Utøya where a youth camp was for kids a part of the Labour Party (which was the governing party).

On Utøya, he was dressed as a policeman and he killed sixty-nine children. In two hours, he went around the island and shot children who were trying to get away from whatever was going on. As I said, a lot of them were immigrant children. At least, the ones featured in the book were immigrant children who wanted to make Norway more open for them, more multicultural.

Seierstad wrote an amazing book. The chapter that covers the actual crimes is, like, 70 pages long. I’m not joking. It was huge and I read it in one sitting, feeling the horrific nature of these crimes washing over me. The podcasts I listened to did not really do it justice, but Seierstad did. She allowed you to get to know the kids, then you watched them die. It was incredibly heavy. It physically pained me to read that chapter and the chapters after while you found out who lived or died.

What sticks with me is the impact of crime. Many true crime books I read focus on the actual act without letting you know much about the people affected by the crime, the victims’ friends and family. From Ander’s mother to the parents who had their children taken away from them, Seierstad showed what impact the crimes had.

I’m so glad that I read this book and, hands down, it’s the best true crime novel that I’ve ever read in my life.


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