ANYONE YOU WANT ME TO BE: A True Story of Sex and Death on the Internet

John Douglas, Author, Stephen Singular, Joint Author . Scribner/Lisa Drew $25 (320p) ISBN 978-0-7432-2635-6

Douglas (The Cases That Haunt Us)—criminal profiler, ex-FBI agent, true crime writer and supposedly the model for a key character in Thomas Harris's The Silence of the Lambs— presents the sordid and horrific case of John Robinson, "the nation's—if not the world's—first Internet serial killer." A chubby middle-aged father of four with a long history as a con man, Robinson explored the local s&m underground of Kansas City while skillfully using Internet chat groups to lure sexually adventurous women to Kansas, where he killed six of them, and perhaps five more, before his arrest in 2000. Douglas's methodical pace and his careful accretion of detail to describe bizarre crimes committed by seemingly ordinary people is highly reminiscent of the work of true crime writer Ann Rule, with Douglas seeing the case as being "about sex among unglamorous people and how the Internet had unleashed so many pent-up possibilities." He also spends a lot of time describing how the proliferation of porn-related sites on the Internet has made it "the fastest-growing criminal frontier in cyberspace." While much of this is fascinating, Douglas too often breaks his tone to issue simplistic warnings to the reader ("Nobody can any longer afford to be naive when it comes to cyberspace"). Johnson, writing with journalist Singular, helpfully offers an appendix featuring "tips for helping adults and kids avoid the dangers of on-line predators." (June)

Reviewed on: 05/26/2003
Release date: 05/01/2003
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 432 pages - 978-0-7434-8399-5
Paperback - 432 pages - 978-1-4391-8947-4
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