Book Review


by Peter Vronsky

Serial Killers the Methods and Madness of Monsters

Serial Killers: The Method and Madness of Monsters by Peter Vronsky.

This was not a bad book for someone that has just begun reading on serial killers. For people who have already investigated the subject it is a bit repetitive.

It a had a great deal of information on both well known killers and lesser known killers. Mr. Vronsky covered different types of killers and explained why they were classified the way that they were.
He did quote a few authors and gave the different opinions on many things from the views of criminal justice and mental health. He also discussed multiple books and the opinions and ideas of the various authors.
He touches on some of the techniques and systems used by different agencies from different countries. He points out the strengths and shortcomings of them but never gets boring or overly technical.
If you are just curious and do not want to buy multiple books then this is a good one that has a wide blanket of information and also has many good references if you decide to read more.

The bad is that for those that have read many cases the book does follow very closely what has been written by people like John Douglas, Ann Rule and Robert Ressler. Many time I felt that I was re-reading Journey Into Darkness, The Stranger Beside Me or I Have Lived in the Monster.
When I read his chapter “Surviving a Serial Killer” I knew I had read it before and sure enough it was an elaborated version of what John Douglas says in Mindhunter.
There were also many references to the FBI’s Serial Murder Multi-Disciplinary Perspectives for Investigators without a reference to it.

The author did do basic research but I do not think that he really went deep enough into subjects to have any new insights or to even give an opinion on technical things. His descriptions of procedures is either quoted from others without any other insight or it is just skimmed on with no real depth leaving the reader with questions rather than insight.

Even when writing about the killers themselves he comes across as almost lazy. He has 40 pages on Ted Bundy while describing the organised killer but only 2 short paragraphs on the disorganized killer using Miguel Rivera.That pattern is repeated throughout the book. Popular and easy to find information is written about with many quotes and references at length while other, equally important topics that are not as easily accessible are touched on but not delved into.

To be fair, he admits right off that he is not an expert. He became interested in serial killers after he realized he had bumped into 2 of them in his lifetime. Richard Cottingham in New York City in 1979 and Andrei Chikatilo in the Soviet Union in 1990. That introduction gives an insight as to how easy it is to overlook these killers. It is chilling actually.

I did enjoy the book overall.
It was a bit too gore happy for me, for example, the photos in the book are mostly crime scene shock type photos. I do not get squeamish by those photos but I do not think that the photos of bodies really added anything besides shock value.
I am happy to add it to my collection but I do not think that it is in anyway a complete study.
I also will not buy his book on female serial killers.

Peter Vronsky

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