The Killer Book of True Crime: Incredible Stories, Facts and Trivia from the World of Murder and Mayhem
by Tom Philbin and Michael Philbin
Reviewed by Richard Marmo
Are you a devoted follower of CSI, the Law And Order franchise, NCSI, Without A Trace, Numbers and numerous other crime shows on TV? Then The Killer Book Of True Crime is right down your gurney...or alley, as the authors say.
If the various twists and turns of sick minds created for television dramas aren’t enough to sate your appetite for murder and mayhem, the Philbins give you another 344 pages of similar fare in a 6” x 9” paperback format with a very interesting difference. They’re all true.
Just the table of contents is enough to draw you into the book. Everything from the common (or not so common) robberies and murders to child killers, women killers, arson, death row, auto theft and out and out gore.
Along the way, you’ll find all kinds of esoteric but interesting...even fascinating...information. There’s humor, prison slang, statistics and complete autopsy reports. Letters written by serial killers provide an insight to some of the sickest criminal minds.
To do this book justice (sorry about that), would take more space than is available here. But let’s see if I can hit enough high points that you will want to add it to your bookshelf.
In the organized crime section, we learn what the Mafia’s weapon of choice is...and why. To entertain you, there’s a match game where you can try to match each deceased Mafioso with the way he died. Prefer to match each Mafioso with their nickname? That’s in there too.
The section dealing with prostitution crimes offers some rather surprising ways to kill, at least one of which is more than a little difficult to imagine. And no, I’m not going to describe it here. It’s enough to tell you that a certain part of a man’s body...which you would never think of in this context...was the murder weapon. Incidentally, prostitution has it’s own unique slang. If nothing else, you’ll definitely expand your vocabulary!
The serial killer and mass murder sections combined take up a full 90 pages and form the largest section of the book. And for good reason. On one hand they’re a fascinating window into some very twisted minds. At the same time, you wind up looking over your shoulder to make sure no one’s coming up behind you. In these two sections you’ll find the Boston Strangler, the Son of Sam, Charles Whitman, Robert Hansen, John Wayne Gacy and the two losers, Perry Smith and Dick Hickok, who slaughtered the Clutter family and wound up as the subjects of Truman Capote’s book, In Cold Blood. Then there was Albert Fish. If you have anything approaching a weak stomach, avoid this story. Albert Fish not only murdered a nine year old girl, he dismembered her, cooked her and ate her over a period of nine days. A very graphic letter that he later sent to her parents describing every grisly detail is reproduced in this section.
Would you like to know the last words, both serious and humorous, of condemned prisoners just before their execution? That’s in here. So are slang terms for both the electric chair and lethal injection. Also the most commonly requested last meals.
Stalkers, celebrities and crime, even kid killers. No, I’m not talking about criminals who kill kids. That’s a different category. What I’m referring to here are kids who commit murder.
Some crime stories or information don’t fit anywhere, which is why that catch-all phrase ‘miscellaneous’ was created. Such things as other types of crime jargon, kidnappings that are almost unbelievable, assassinations that almost succeeded, ancient poisons, humor, what the deadliest month is and on and on.
Finally, for those of you who love CSI to the point that you’ve thought about taking a college course in forensic pathology or even becoming a medical examiner, you won’t want to miss the "Mostly Gore (Not Al)" chapter. This one is comprised of the actual autopsy reports in excruciating detail for a number of very well known personalities. The role call is: Nicole Brown Simpson, Marilyn Monroe and George Reeves. All of these are very detailed and of considerable interest (?). But the piece de resistance is a 14 page autopsy report on JonBenet Ramsey.
The book ends with a 16 page index that will enable you to find any information you might be looking for in very short order.
If your interest lies in true crime and in depth detail of those same crimes, and don’t object to the stories being leavened with sprinklings of humor, this is definitely the book for you. Considering what you get for the price, $14.95 is more than reasonable. Just be sure to keep your door locked while you’re reading.