(3 stars) American Predator: The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21st Century by Maureen Callahan
This book has a really high (4.1!) rating on Goodreads but I think I’m a little burned out on serial killer books right now. This book was interesting enough, but my main takeaway was the incompetence of the lead prosecutor in the case (or at least how the author perceived that). So I spent most of the book feeling frustrated with the good guys rather than wanting to hunt down the bad guys.
Israel Keyes spent years hunting people across the United States, breaking a lot of the so-called “norms” for serial killers. For instance, he killed couples, he killed both men and women, some of his kills were spontaneous and others were planned. He would travel around the country for work, bury what he called “kill kits” (Home Depot buckets with weapons and tools) in random fields and then come back and use them later. This spontaneity and all of the ground that he covered made it difficult for law enforcement to even realize a serial killer was in play, much less being able to identify who it was. It was only by pure luck that law enforcement stumbled across a victim that he killed locally and begin the arduous process of tracing his previous steps and connecting him to past crimes.
The author does a decent job of laying out what we know about Keyes and the process by which he was captured and then prosecuted. She focuses a lot on the fact that the district attorney was allowed to interrogate him, rather than the police or FBI. The district attorney made a lot of mistakes in his interrogation, which led to frustration by the other officials. I definitely got the feeling that Callahan got all of her information from the pissed-off law enforcement officials, and while that may have been absolutely accurate, it really seems like she had it out for this prosecutor. But it also seems like he made a lot of mistakes, showing his hand when he shouldn’t have and allowing Keyes to run the interrogations. You kind of get the feeling that it’s amazing he was caught at all.
(2 stars) Birdman (Jack Caffery #1) by Mo Hayder
This book was just gross. It’s the first in a series that I am absolutely not going to continue with. I was intrigued at first by the main character but by the end of it, I was hate reading just to finish it.
Jack Cafferty is a police officer in London. He is haunted by the death of his brother when they were children, a death that he blames himself for. He is obsessed with his neighbor, who he’s still convinced killed his brother. And now he is on a particularly disturbing case: five young women found murdered and disposed of. Each woman has had a bird sewed inside her chest. Cafferty and his team, each of whom really runs into the next, work to hunt down the serial killer while being foiled at every step by a cartoonishly difficult detective (Maddox) who’s determined to pin the crime on a black man. Literally any black man. Meanwhile, Cafferty is dealing with his extremely disturbed girlfriend, and falling for a witness in the case.
The details of the crime, which I knew going in we’re going to be upsetting, were particularly gross in this novel. The author seems to relish in the sexual sadism and the use of the birds. But I had the biggest problem with the characters of Rebecca and Maddox. Maddox, the detective who keeps getting in Cafferty’s way, is just ridiculous. He’s practically twirling a mustache and cackling as he sabotages Cafferty. Rebecca’s the witness that Cafferty falls for and she makes nothing but stupid choices in this book. She is the girl who leaves the house in the middle of the night when a killer is on the loose because she thinks she hears a weird noise. Her actions do nothing but set Cafferty up to be a hero (as do Maddox’s), and by the end of it, I was so frustrated with these two that I barely finished the book.