WHISPERS OF ROMANCE, THREATS OF DEATH: One Woman's Treacherous Ordeal with a Savage, Seductive, Unstoppable Serial Criminal—A True Story

Carol Cook, Author, Ted Schwartz, Author . New Horizon $25.95 (312p) ISBN 0-88282-217-9

A woman unwittingly befriends her attacker in this second-rate telling of a sensational, horrific crime. Shortly after moving to Dallas, Cook was attacked in her home by a man known as the Ski Mask Rapist. Dubbed by the media as "Victim 23," she struggled to hold her life together. Enter Gilbert Escabedo, a wealthy and smooth-talking area businessman who seemed devoted to his church and dedicated to helping Cook get back on her feet. They became friends, business partners and briefly lovers, and though their relationship began to sour, Escabedo nevertheless proved himself an ally and helped Cook come to terms with her terrible experience. But then Cook began to draw connections between her attacker and her new friend's emerging strange behavior—he seemed prone to stalking, easily sparked to violence. Quotes from the criminal's later confession are woven into the narrative to creepy effect, and digressions include a pastor's involvement with local police and a brief history of Dallas as a city growing too quickly to contain the criminal elements it fosters. Cook's story is moving, and readers may agree that it needs to be told. Its detached third-person voice—perhaps necessary for the police-procedural narrative and the interruptions of Escabedo's confessions—feels like the wrong tone, however, while careless repetitions peppered throughout give this book by Schwartz (author of 90 books, including Secret Weapons) the unmistakable feeling of a first draft. Appendix features important resources for victims of sexual assault. 15,000 first printing. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 02/04/2002
Release date: 03/01/2002
Genre: Nonfiction
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