Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Serial Killer Files” as Want to Read:
Blank 133x176
The Serial Killer Files
Harold Schechter
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Serial Killer Files

4.1  ·  Rating Details ·  2,367 Ratings  ·  107 Reviews

Hollywood's make-believe maniacs like Jason, Freddy, and Hannibal Lecter can't hold a candle to real life monsters like John Wayne Gacy, Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, and scores of others who have terrorized, tortured, and terminated their way across civilization throughout the ages.

Now, from the much-acclaimed author of Devia
Published (first published 2003)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Serial Killer Files, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Serial Killer Files

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
The Serial Killer Files is a definite summary of all things serial killings and serial killers. It starts from the history of the word "serial killer" and covers each area with captivating style, ending chapters with book recommendations for a deeper knowledge of the things discussed. What else, more a devout true crime reader would and could ask for?

Schechter does a fine job of covering and debunking all aspects, definitions, beliefs and assumptions we have of the human monsters.

He argues stro
Sep 28, 2014 Stacie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Stacie by: Megan
Shelves: own, 2013, non-fiction
This book exceeded all my expectations. When looking for a book about serial killers, I was mainly looking for reasons why they did what they did. I found those reasons and so much more. Not only did the author include the psychology sections that I was looking for, they also provided cultural information, like why are people so fascinated by serial killers and how long has this been going on(which the author pointed out that it has been going on practically forever). The author had information ...more
Feb 25, 2008 Alicia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have a morbid fascination with death so what better book for me? It outlined many famous cases and I learned about many new ones. People never fail to disgust me, this book proves why.
T.M. Carper
If you're looking for information on the big-name serial killers, try another book--there are several for each killer listed in the back for more information--because it only has a condensed listing/summary of the major killers.

The first few chapters overview the types of serial killers and the history of serial killing.

This a fact-based book covering brutal cases with stark clarity. There are a lot of little known killers mentioned, as well as the usual suspects of Bundy, Gacy, Dahmer, Jack t
Dec 20, 2015 Neri. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm a fan of mysteries and documentaries so this book was great for me. It had a lot of facts why some people become serial killers and how to recognize one. It also discusses the phenomenal societys obsession with serial killers. Very interersting book indeed.
Mauoijenn ~ *Mouthy Jenn* ~
Very informative book... if you're into serial killers! :)
As a fan of true crime, I was so excited to read this book. However, once I brought it home from Barnes and Noble, I was just about instantly disappointed. There's more cons than pros with The Serial Killer Files, that I almost don't know where to start.

The biggest, most obvious annoyance I have with this book is that the author is straight up bad at writing. I feel like he wanted to be a successful fiction author but just didn't have the chops, hence leading him to write subpar nonfiction like
Bobbie  Crawford
The Serial Killer Files,
The Who, What, Where, How, and Why of the World’s Most Terrifying Murders

Written By: Harold Schechter
Published By: A Ballantine Book, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, USA, 2003, First Edition, 422 pages, paperback (9.1 x 7.4 inches), ISBN 978-0-345-46566-0

The Serial Killer Files is an overflowing compendium of Serial Killer facts and data which will inform you and keep you riveted!” BCM

If someone thinks about a serial killer, they often imagine a person w
I read this as part of my research for a psych paper on Nature Vs. Nurture in Criminal Psychology. Although it was a bit redundant at times, I found it incredibly informative.

I especially enjoyed the tidbits it provided on the historical context of serial killers- the fact that the term wasn't widely used until the 1980's shocked me. The information given about cases from the 19th century and earlier were especially interesting, in my opinion, just because you never really hear about the older s
Wow, I finally finished this book; after a couple of months! I started out on my interest in serial killers (and what makes them tick) last fall; half a year later I finally finished this most comprehensive guide on killers!

And really, this book has everything in it. It even reaches out of the strict realm of serial killing into some side branches like mass murderers. The only thing that really bothered me was the repitition of some of the stories. "Yes, I learned about Albert Fish's atrocities
Apr 12, 2011 Tabitha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very informative, and plenty (maybe sometimes too much) detail. There are lots of facts, charts and photos to grab your interest as you page through. It answers the question how creative can killers get in gory detail. Great for research or just for idle curiosity about whichever serial killer is currently getting turned into a movie.
In addition to the vast amount of information the book offers, it also contains some great indexes, lists and a bibliography for further reading.
Nothing like a grea
Sep 08, 2015 Cinthia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is for the ones who are really interested in serial killers or in the psychology behind it (which is my case). If you have already read books about serial killers, you may find some information redundant. However, you should definitely give it a go.

Some descriptions are very strong, as some of the illustrations.

The design of this book is incredible! The pictures, the info and the real cases analysis make this one of the best books about serial killers that I have ever read.

It has a lot
Oct 23, 2010 Denise rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It was a pretty interesting read overall. However, the writing really started to annoy me in the long run. Every time the author tried to describe a murder in the most 'gruesome' details, it came off as if the author intended to gross you out on purpose, making it seem way worse than it actually was. There wasn't much variation of words either; it was just dull and repetitive to me. Though that could've been caused by the translator of this book.

Also! (I almost forgot) There were a lot of intere
Jun 26, 2013 Samantha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book and would recommend to those who want to learn about several different types of serial killers and some interesting cases. I would say this book talk a lot about the why and the theories behind some of the acts and a lot about the history of serial killing. So this is a great book if you don't mind more about information provided into the mind of serial killers and the history of serial killing and different informational things of that nature
Jul 11, 2009 Christina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a listing of almost every known serial killer and what horrible crimes they committed.

It was well-researched and hard to put down, but it turns your insides to jelly with its disturbing, cold facts.

The F.B.iI. says there are about 500 serial killers operating in the world right now. Yikes!

*Fascinating read.
Dec 25, 2008 Ruthanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is really intense. I am a true crime junkie and I had to read this in small doses. Getting into the psyches of these seriously deranged people at times can be very unnerving. A good book none-the-less. I like that at the end of each section and at the end of the book, there are several other books listed to read pertaining to the same subject/serial killer.
Jul 14, 2016 Priya rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quite a disturbing read. Pretty comprehensive compilation, though the book gets extremely repetitive over various chapters and you end up reading the same stories/incidents ten times in ten different places, leaving a lasting imprint on the mind. Disturbing indeed.
Jul 06, 2016 Melissa marked it as did-not-finish  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-read
Some things are better to not know. I couldn't keep going.
Richard Montague
Very informative and covered alot of serial killers. Also gave alot of recommendations of different books if you wanted to continue learning about different serial killers. Near the end it became a little repetitive reading about the same serial killers you just read about and what they did over and over again, but I believe it was done only to prove the point he was making.
Anyone who wants to lose themselves in the world of serial killers but not sure where to start, this would be a great book
Claudia Loureiro
So many true crime books are poorly researched tabloid type renditions of serial murders. Harold Schechter, however, has literally written a text book of murder. This book is well written, organized, and provides an interesting historical overview of serial killers... from the "Bluebeard" killers, to the Black Widows, to the sexual sadists, he covers them all. SThe author also provides insight into the empty soul of the sociopath. I highly recommend this book!
Dec 18, 2016 Jakey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars, it really is a good collection of serial killer information however I had been hoping for more detail then was ultimately provided. In addition it repeatedly used the same facts over and over again which began to get on my nerves by the end of the book.
Dec 27, 2016 Aishuu rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting, but not organized in a logical fashion to me. The author ends up repeating himself at multiple points - it's like a string of essays on serial killer topics rather than a cohesive narrative.
Brian Leslie
Nov 01, 2016 Brian Leslie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was more encyclopedia than anything else. There was a great deal of material though and overall it was well organized. It provided a significant amount of detail even if some of it was repeated for specific serial killers.
Dec 14, 2016 Lauren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I thought the author did a wonderful job of being the readers through different categories and characteristics that are sought in and presented in a serial killer. There was a bit of redundancy and overlap with certain categories but overall I felt it was presented well.
Oct 14, 2016 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very thorough book about serial killers, from their histories, to their profilers, to unsolved murders. Not for the faint of heart. It got a little overwhelming at times. Also, the killers were approached in several different categories so there was a bit of repetition, especially in the second half.
May 21, 2016 Lissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Harold Schechter is one of the leading authorities on American serial killers, and he has a very readable writing style. I've read several of his books, and I have "enjoyed" (I am not sure if that is the correct word, considering the subject matter) each of them.

The book is incredibly in depth, covering a range of topics (starting with how the term "serial killer" entered the English language, then delving into common characteristics of serial killers, why and how they kill, how they're caught,
Aug 27, 2013 Christy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: criminal-justice
This is an amazing book that not only goes into the minds of both infamous serial killers and ones that escaped notoriety, but attempts to explain the psychology behind their sinister acts and what led them to commit such horrendous acts of violence just for their own gain. There are so many similar characteristics that existed in each of their childhoods that link them together and it is these characteristics that are believed to have turned them into the monsters that they were during adulthoo ...more
May 27, 2016 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, audible
There are a lot of things about this book that I consider both good and bad. For me, perhaps the main sins are the author's feeling that everything is about sexual perversion and environment being the primary source of serial killers. I am certain that many studies support such ideas, but I have a hard time taking this from correlation to causality. I am much more a believer in gray for all things. The world just isn't that simple.

That said, there were many strengths to the text. I was introduce
Greg Cahl
Aug 07, 2014 Greg Cahl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent read. Thoroughly researched, yet highly accessible and informative. The individuals that inhabit the pages are displayed in all of their curious, sometimes sad and ultimately, maddening rage and unstoppable blood lust. The book also does not simply rely upon photos, but includes some illustrations for some of the killers of the late-18th and early-twentieth century. Despite all steps taken to make this a book that is approachable, the extent to the depth to which these men (and wome ...more
Apr 15, 2016 Amanda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Esse livro merecia uma nota melhor, mas duas coisas me deixaram bastante frustrada: a diagramação e o excesso de repetição dos casos.
O projeto gráfico é lindo e maravilhoso, mas essa fonte minúscula deixou a leitura muito cansativa. Entendo que isso influencia a quantidade de páginas, mas é simplesmente muito chato ficar se esforçando pra conseguir ler.
Outra coisa que me cansou foi a quantidade de vezes que os casos eram citados. Teve um momento que eu não aguentava mais ver detalhes sobre o me
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
serial killer files 1 8 Oct 11, 2011 10:04PM  
  • The Encyclopedia of Serial Killers
  • Serial Killers: The Method and Madness of Monsters
  • The Killer Book of Serial Killers: Incredible Stories, Facts, and Trivia from the World of Serial Killers
  • The Last Victim: A True-Life Journey into the Mind of the Serial Killer
  • The Jeffrey Dahmer Story: An American Nightmare
  • Serial Killers and Sadistic Murderers Up Close and Personal
  • Erased: Missing Women, Murdered Wives
  • Hunting the Devil: The Pursuit, Capture and Confession of the Most Savage Serial Killer in History
  • The Evil That Men Do: FBI Profiler Roy Hazelwood's Journey into the Minds of Serial Killers
  • Inside the Mind of BTK: The True Story Behind the Thirty-Year Hunt for the Notorious Wichita Serial Killer
  • Signature Killers
  • I: The Creation of a Serial Killer
  • Inside the Minds of Serial Killers: Why They Kill
  • The World's Most Bizarre Murders: True Stories That Will Shock and Amaze You
  • Dark Dreams: Sexual Violence, Homicide And The Criminal Mind
  • Cannibal: The True Story Behind the Maneater of Rotenburg
  • Lethal Marriage: The Unspeakable Crimes of Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka
  • Serial Killers
Aka Jon A. Harrald (joint pseudonym with Jonna Gormley Semeiks)

Harold Schechter is a true crime writer who specializes in serial killers. He attended the State University of New York in Buffalo, where he obtained a Ph.D. A resident of New York City, Schechter is professor of American literature and popular culture at Queens College of the City University of New York.

Among his nonfiction works are
More about Harold Schechter...

Share This Book

“Largely because of its emphasis on gore, the Illustrated Police News had the highest circulation of any publication in Victorian England.” 2 likes
“publicly raped by a specially trained giraffe, after which she was torn apart by wild animals.” 1 likes
More quotes…