When Good Kids Kill

Michael D. Kelleher, Author
Michael D. Kelleher, Author Praeger Publishers $38.95 (208p) ISBN 978-0-275-96410-8
Mass Market Paperbound - 256 pages - 978-0-440-23622-1
Prebound-Other - 978-0-613-22617-2
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Good kids who kill, according to Kelleher's formulation, are those who have shown no predisposition to violence. Kelleher's reasonable treatment of the subject goes beyond the easy explanation that these young killers were really bad kids who somehow slipped under the moral radar of adults. ""In truth, good kids sometimes act very badly, and bad kids often act with honor and truthfulness."" Relying primarily on newspaper accounts, the book explores parricide, cult murders, murders of obsession and the killing of newborn infants by teen parents, a phenomenon receiving so much public attention recently that a word has been created to describe it: neonaticide. The author of three other books on murder in the past two years (most recently, Murder Most Rare), Kelleher writes clearly and explains complex issues coherently. If the book is difficult to read, it is because of the troubling content. These kids make murder seem whimsical and random. Anyone could be a victim; any teen could be a perpetrator. While there are similarities among the young murderers profiled in the book, the same characteristics might apply generally to any teen. Satisfactory answers are not forthcoming, but the direct and lucid presentation of the problem may serve to stimulate more rigorous research. (Dec.)
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