Serial Killers: The Minds, Methods, and Mayhem of History’s Most Notorious Murderers

Visible Ink. Apr. 2021. 400p. ISBN 9781578597475. $49.95; pap. ISBN 9781578597079. $19.95. CRIME
Paranormal nonfiction writer and paramedic Estep became fascinated by serial killers after volunteering to staff an ambulance in the aftermath of the Aurora, CO, mass shooting at the Century 16 movie theater, where James Holmes killed 12 people and injured 20, in addition to booby-trapping his apartment with explosives. In this comprehensive work, Estep focuses on 34 serial murder cases, from Jack the Ripper to the BTK Killer. Estep also helpfully references relevant books, movies, and documentaries. While several of the book’s histories are widely known (the Boston Strangler, Jeffrey Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy), Estep also includes lesser-known cases, like that of serial killer Nannie Doss, who in 1955 pled guilty to the murders of several of her husbands and her mother, mother-in-law, grandson, and sister; another is Tsutomu Miyazaki, who kidnapped and murdered four young girls in Japan in the late 1980s. Though Estep speculates on how these people became murderers and notes characteristics shared by some serial killers—narcissism, head injuries, animal torture, bed-wetting, being bullied—he concludes that we may never truly know why someone kills.
VERDICT Estep’s concise, well-written case studies will leave readers wanting to learn more.
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