PJ Media

Serial Killers: Up Close and Personal

Yesterday, I had the chance to read an advance copy of criminologist Jack Levin’s new book, a href=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1591025761?ie=UTF8tag=wwwviolentkicomlinkCode=as2camp=1789creative=9325creativeASIN=1591025761″ span style=”font-style:italic;”Serial Killers and Sadistic Murderers – Up Close and Personal./span/aimg src=”http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=wwwviolentkicoml=as2o=1a=1591025761″ width=”1″ height=”1″ border=”0″ alt=”” style=”border:none !important; margin:0px !important;” / Levin has specialized in the study of murder over the past twenty-five years and in the introduction, shares the toll this line of work has taken on his life (I can relate!):br /br /blockquote…I must confess, from the outset, that I have also paid a high personal price for my work in analyzing the most depraved of murderers. Over the years, I have received death threats from the fans of killers about whom I have written. I have gotten nasty letters and phone calls from strangers who judge me based only on a short quote (or misquote) in a newspaper article they’ve read. I have received letters from numerous prisoners who believe I might get them a new trial or a reduced sentence, mistakenly believing that I am am an attorney rather than a criminologist. Mobsters have visited my office. Psychotics have stalked me. . …To this day, it remains difficult to get a good night’s sleep. br /br /Living with murder has not always been easy. Yet by analyzing and better understanding–not span style=”font-style:italic;”justifying/span–the thoughts and actions of serial killers and other murderers, we can hopefully develop strategies that will thwart them and therefore benefit society. To the extent that we are successful, my experiences with murder will have been totally worthwhile./blockquotebr /br /So if bloggers get bent out of shape over real or imagined threats over the internet, think how this guy must feel dealing with this type of potential risk on a fairly constant basis from face-to-face killers and their fans–although honestly, for the most part, the killers themselves are not terribly interested in experts, they have their own agenda when it comes to the type of victim they are looking for. But intimidation for them is often amusing. br /br /Levin gives some background on serial killers, indicating that they are rare–less than 1% of murders constitute this type of killing in the US with about 200 victims per year spread among around 20 killers. a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serial_killer”Serial killers,/a as opposed to spree killers or mass murderers kill a number of people span style=”font-style:italic;”with a cooling off period in-between./span He has had some real face-to-face time with many of these killers and their families and provides a good description of his interactions with them. There is an interesting chapter entitled, “Threatening to Kill” where Levin describes some of the threats he and others have received over the years. His experience leads him to this conclusion:br /br /blockquoteI span style=”font-style:italic;”realize now that some people make a career of threatening others./span They usually do not follow through. Instead, they get tremendous satisfaction from causing pain and anxiety in the lives of the people they hate. Their threatening messages are in and of themselves a form of revenge./blockquote br /br /I would rate the book as fair to pretty good, I didn’t learn anything new here, but it was worth reading, although you will have to overlook the PC overtones–Levin seems to sympathize with gun control, yet mentions that serial killers only use a gun as a last resort, offers no indignation when mentioning that colleagues want to shoot people who are “biased” up with anti-psychotic drugs, and uses case examples that are politically correct for the most part without showing the other side. If you want more in-depth psychological analysis, I suggest a href=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0385263287?ie=UTF8tag=wwwviolentkicomlinkCode=as2camp=1789creative=9325creativeASIN=0385263287″ span style=”font-style:italic;”Serial Killers/span/aimg src=”http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=wwwviolentkicoml=as2o=1a=0385263287″ width=”1″ height=”1″ border=”0″ alt=”” style=”border:none !important; margin:0px !important;” / by Joel Norris. Although it was written in 1988, Norris asks some great questions and has some terrific insight into what makes this type of killer tick.