A Stranger in the Family: 2a True Story of Murder, Madness, and Unconditional Love

Steven Naifeh, Author, Gregory White Smith, With Dutton Books $24.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-525-93973-3
It would be hard to imagine a more atypical serial rapist and murderer than Richard Daniel (``Danny'') Starrett--a handsome, outgoing, considerate, married father of a three-year-old daughter and member of what seemed an ideal American family. We learn early on that he has confessed to five rapes and one murder in Georgia and South Carolina and is now serving 10 consecutive life sentences. Interspersed throughout this account by Naifeh and Smith (Jackson Pollock) is an interior monologue by the rapist presented as ``autobiographical sketches,'' as he tries to come to terms with his crimes. Another important part of this story is the rapist's mother, Gerry, whose frantic efforts were instrumental in saving her son from the electric chair. Gerry gave the authors access to the family as well as to the journals Danny wrote after he was imprisoned. We learn of her gradual acceptance of certain disturbing facts in her own life and how her son's loss of liberty paradoxically freed her from her emotionally inaccessible husband, Richard, and her idealized image of her family. A powerful and perceptive study. True Crime, Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club selections. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/29/1995
Release date: 06/01/1995
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