American Serial Killers: The Epidemic Years 1950–2000

Peter Vronsky. Berkley, $26 (416p) ISBN 978-0-593-19881-0
Vronsky (Sons of Cain) opens this gripping survey of 20th century serial killers with the discovery by two Milwaukee police officers in 1991 of the body parts in Jeffery Dahmer’s apartment. From this horrific scene, Vronsky goes on to survey early cases, such as that of an unknown man who killed 49 people with an axe in 1911 and 1912 in Texas, but it wasn’t, Vronsky claims, until a perfect storm of traumatized WWII veterans, “domineering mothers,” and a rise in social problems created a generation of monsters. The construction of the freeway system in America in the 1950s and ’60s meant more potential victims were traveling long distances, many of them displaced, marginalized people from city neighborhoods seized by eminent domain to build the highways. With the creation of the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit and Violent Crime Apprehension Program in the ’70s, Vronsky writes, the “epidemic” began to slow; in the ’90s there were 669 known serial killers, a drop of almost 20% from the ’80s. Serial killers are still out there, maybe as many as 35 a year, but with the current increase in hate crimes, Vronsky projects that the country could be heading for another surge. Smooth prose helps keep the pages turning. True crime fans with strong stomachs will want to check this one out. Agent: Elaine Spencer, Knight Agency. (Dec.)
Reviewed on : 11/20/2020
Release date: 00/00/0000
Genre: Nonfiction
Book - 978-0-593-19882-7
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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