An account of the crimes of Arthur Shawcross describes how the paroled child killer shot, stabbed, suffocated, and strangled 16 Rochester, New York, prostitutes and examines how the legal system failed his victims.
©2014 Jack Olsen (P)2015 Evan Olsen, Su Olsen
"Not the Typical True Crime Book"
As this narrative begins, you aren't sure whose story this is. It starts with Jack, the first victim of Arthur Shawcross. Throughout the book, the author gives us the stories of the victims and their families, as well as the perspectives of the detectives, Shawcross's lovers, wives, and mother. The result is as fully a realized picture of the madman as can be had.
Even with all of the detail, it is clear that the author--and nobody else for that matter--understood what made this serial killer tick. Child rape and murder, murder and mutilation of prostitutes, cannibalism, and necrophilia--this man did it all, and at the end no one is sure why. Even the murderer himself seems baffled by his crimes.
Compared to the Green River Running Red and BTK, two books I've recently read about serial murderers, this book left me feeling more remote from the killer and his crimes. The reader was never given entrance into Shawcross's head in the same way as we were allowed to examine Gary Ridgeway and Dennis Rader. At the end of Misbegotten Son, a psychiatrist gives two theories about how a man like Arthur Shawcross could have developed, and I think that his ideas are an interesting perspective, but not a conclusion.
Narrating this book must have been incredibly demanding. The diverse formats (interview, letter, testimony, written account, etc.) combined with an overcrowded cast of perspectives to make this engaging for the reader--but a nightmare for the man tasked with giving them all voice! Kevin Pierce, as always, did a magnificent job. He was able to portray both sides of Arthur Shawcross: the altruistic, childlike outdoors-man and the sadistic, victim-blaming, rage filled murderer. Especially in the portions of the text where Shawcross is describing his crimes in written or audio-recorded accounts, Pierce uses his talents to illustrate the murderer as a petulant lunatic with a sub-normal IQ without creating a caricature.
Non-fiction of any kind does not lend itself to an overly dramatized style of narration. That's why Kevin Pierce is one of my favorites; his is always a subtle yet engaging narration that illuminates rather than dramatizes the characters.
This book has everything: the gory details, the heart-rending effects of a murderous rampage on the victims' and the murderer's families, and the history and analysis of what makes a killer. Even with all that, though, the book generates as many questions as answers.
"Reads like a novel, very well written."
Jack Olsen was/is at the very high end of the true crime genre, and with this book dug very deep into the big Why of a horrible horrible series of events. The author examines the old cracks in the system that should have protected the citizens of NY state, and it's both heartbreaking and infuriating to think about.
This book made me queasy in spots - fortunately those sections turned out to be the killer's sick fantasies. (As if the truth of his actions wasn't disturbing enough). Kevin Pierce is terrific at reading true crime in particular, no overacting, excellent narration and the dialogue just sounds conversational, believable. Afterwards I felt compelled to see the killer interviewed on YouTube, and saw just how amazingly accurate Olsen's description of him was. All in all a real eye opener.
"Clear and well-written, held my interest throughout"
This is such an unfortunate story-such a poor job done by the legal system.
Jack Olsen, however, did a good job telling this story. It is graphic, because Shawcross' crimes were graphic. I never became bored w the story because it never got 'bogged down' w unnecessary legalese or tangential stories that took the focus off Shawcross.
Fantastic book. Great writing. may differs characters are in this book but I never got lost. Narrator did a great job.
I found this book to be especially interesting in covering the less known serial killer, Arthur Shawcross. The author did an excellent job and provided lots of detail. The narrator was one of my favorite yet for the story he told. I actually thought he sounded quite a bit like Shawcross.
"Olsen & Pierce always awesome together"
Olsen & Pierce are two of the very best. If you like true crime then this is a must read/listen.
I hadn't heard of art shawcross until I read this book, it is an amazing book. I can't believe the stupidity of the women who have been with this guy. Idiots. The book really illustrates the hardships of the prostitutes in the story, and does a great job of showing the girls as human beings.
"The very best from Jack Olsen...the best. "
Never a dull moment including what I found as fascinating physiological conclusions by a doctor who spent hours and hours with the prisoner. This is probably the saddest true crime story I've ever experienced, but the exquisite writing and narrating makes the saddest story in the world too intriguing to put down for a happy moment. Having just listened to the prologue, maybe I'm too moved to write anything more specific and analytical -- that's the sign of a story that's bigger than its parts.
The combination of Jack Olsen and Kevin Pierce is as close to true crime Audible heaven as you can get. Jack Olsen is able to go into immense details about the criminal, the crimes and the victims without bogging down the pace and readability of the story. It's no wonder he has such respect among other true crime authors. He's quite simply the best in my view. After thoroughly enjoying my 4th book with the Olsen and Pierce duo, I was compelled to finally write a review, which I typically don't do, in the hopes others will discover their work. Finally, Pierce is a master narrator, with or without Olsen.
Love the true crime genre and this one was about a guy I had not heard of. He was pretty twisted.
Loved the detective work and the writing about the two sides of the Arthur Shawcross. Olsen showed both sides of him, the giving nature and the killer.........
Kevin Pierce is a solid narrator. I have listed to him for so many hours , he seems like an old friend.
Love the scientists that looked into his case to try and identify any chemical imbalances that may have caused his outburst /behavior.
Totally worth listening too.
"Well narrated, but not an edge of your seat read."
I suppose all true serial killer stories are fascinating to a degree, but some have more bite than others.
"A Lot of Book"
Mr Olsen has excelled himself in this book, the narrator complimented with perfection as he negotiated many different genders and dialects, I am genuinely miffed that I have come to the end,as for Art Shawcross, he is where he needs to be.
"Amazing true crime book"
Incredible life story with very interesting ending. There is obviously so much we need to learn about the brain. Definitely recommend this book
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