cover image Charmer: A Ladies' Man and His Victims

Charmer: A Ladies' Man and His Victims

Jack Olsen. William Morrow & Company, $23 (367pp) ISBN 978-0-688-10903-5

Olsen (Son) has established himself so firmly near the pinnacle of true-crime writers that anything from him not a masterwork is somewhat of a disappointment. That is the case with this story of a young African American from a posh Seattle suburb. George Russell Jr., highly intelligent, supremely articulate and supposedly the son of professionals, became a serial killer who mutilated his victims. His story is told largely through transcripts of interviews with police officers, bar personnel and the far younger women he hung around with (at 28, he enjoyed the company of girls of 13 and 14). Beneath his charm, however, lay a pathological hatred of women, so it is not surprising that his career in crime, which began with petty theft and advanced to cat burglary, climaxed with the murders of three females. The book's strength is its lesson that diligent police work can indeed produce results. Russell is now serving a life term. Author tour. (Nov.)