cover image Unholy Messenger: The Life and Crimes of the BTK Serial Killer

Unholy Messenger: The Life and Crimes of the BTK Serial Killer

Stephen Singular, . . Scribner, $23 (290pp) ISBN 978-0-7432-9124-8

Veteran true crime author Singular, who advanced a controversial theory of the Jon-Benet Ramsey murder in Presumed Guilty , has crafted a gripping and chilling tale in this thorough examination of Dennis Rader, the infamous BTK killer, who terrorized Wichita, Kans., for decades. By making use of Rader's extensive confessions, as well as the recollections of his pastor and one of the primary detectives, the author recreates, in macabre detail, the killing spree that claimed 10 lives. Rader's sadism is hard to stomach, especially his modus operandi of murdering people in front of their relatives. The pastor's take on the crimes—that his parishioner (who was president of the congregation) was demonically possessed—may offend some, but Singular puts this theory in context by taking pains to present the theological struggle Rader's crimes presented. Some of the details—for example, of the dialogue between killer and victim just before the murders—appear to be derived solely from Rader's admissions. Overall, Singular has written a solid account that will both fascinate and horrify. (Apr.)