cover image Hello, Charlie: Letters from a Serial Killer

Hello, Charlie: Letters from a Serial Killer

Charlie Hess, Davin Seay, . . Atria, $25 (321pp) ISBN 978-1-4165-4485-2

In this chilling account, retired FBI agent Hess details his years of correspondence with serial killer Robert Browne, as he tried to coax out details of Browne's alleged 49 murders. Sentenced to life without parole in 1995 for the first-degree murder of 13-year-old Heather Church in Colorado, Browne began taunting investigators in 2000 with vague hints of other victims. Hess—a former FBI and CIA agent with years of experience as a polygraph analyst—had volunteered to investigate cold cases in Colorado Springs; assisted by homicide detective Lou Smit and former newspaper publisher Scott Fischer, Hess began writing to Browne in the hopes of uncovering (based on Browne's letters) clues to as many as 48 unsolved murders. The men traded letters for years, each one bringing Hess and his team one step closer to proving the murderer's grisly claim. In clean, vivid prose that avoids melodrama, Hess and Seay (coauthor, With God on Our Side ) explore not only Browne's troubled Louisiana childhood and his string of abusive marriages but also the lives of the investigators. With Hess's first-person narrative and excerpts from his and Browne's letters, this is an unsettling account of a man who is possibly the most prolific and twisted of serial killers. (Feb.)