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The Serial Killer Whisperer: How One Man's Tragedy Helped Unlock the Deadliest Secrets of the World's Most Terrifying Killers

3.67 of 5 stars 3.67  ·  rating details  ·  749 ratings  ·  147 reviews
From New York Times bestselling author Pete Earley—the strange but true story of a man who suffers a traumatic brain injury and as a result is given the ability to converse with the world’s most terrifying criminals.

After suffering a horrific head injury, fifteen-year-old Tony Ciaglia discovered he could no longer control his emotions or social response
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Hardcover, 317 pages
Published January 10th 2012 by Touchstone (first published January 5th 2012)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,634)
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Tony
Hello Everyone.
My name is Tony Ciaglia, and I am a traumatic brain injury survivor. I am also the subject of this book, The Serial Killer Whisperer. I love to go online and read the mixed reviews of this book. I do understand that because of the controversial subject matter, this book is not for everyone. Some have questioned the sanity of my parents and brother as to how they could let me engage in such a hobby talking with such heinous people. I can assure you all that I have the most loving f
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Laura Cowan


It's a good story, I enjoyed reading it, it's fairly well written (though quite disorganized) and I have a couple of complaints. First is with the title/subtitle. It's incredibly misleading. SPOILER: Tony doesn't get any secrets from any serial killers until the epilogue. The EPILOGUE!!! Sure he talks to them often by mail and phone but is he told secrets? No. It's more like he's cannon fodder the way they detail their kills to him, but hey, no one should expect stories about rainbows from these
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Lis
Let me just say...this book is very, very, very badly titled. The "serial killer whisperer" doesn't unlock any secrets whatsoever. What the book is really about is a guy with brain damage who becomes completely obsessed with serial killers, to his own (and his family's) detriment. He begins writing letters to serial killers, and then to like and relate to them so much that he not only considers them his 'best friends', but he starts to wonder if he's actually going to become a serial killer hims ...more
Ishmael Seaward
Interesting but disappointing in many ways. I was hoping for some more insight along the lines of "The Science of Evil", but not so far. I'm about 2/3's of the way through the book.

A young man (Tony) has a horrific accident, suffering traumatic brain injury (TBI). The damage manifests itself as periodic fits of uncontrollable rage, defensiveness, memory issues, and social miscues, all of which alienate him from his former friends and society at large. His parents and brother stick by him, and wi
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Katherine
Apr 18, 2012 Katherine rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: no one
Shelves: 2012
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Wanda
I am sorry I read this awful book. It contains a plethora of morally bankrupt narrative composed by some of the most monstrous killers on death row. Unlike others, I did not consider it pornographic, so much as boring. These are empty people who think and act in horrible ways. They do not need an audience for their rants and their reliving of their vicious deeds. I was not particularly shocked as others have been because this book contains no more shocking material than the average Ann Rule book ...more
Melissa
This book was suggested to me by a random woman at the library. I normally do not read this type of book however it was good. It is about a boy who is involved in an accident that leaves him with brain damage. It is about that whole process of him ( and his family ) going thourgh the issues that come with his type of damage. One of the things that happen is that the kids at school alienated the once popular child. It is hard for him and with the type of brain injury already suffers from extreme ...more
Lee
As a person with a fair interest in serial killers, I was intrigued by this book, written about Tony Ciaglia, who suffered a severe head trauma as a teenager. His communication skills were very strongly impaired and he was unable to control his anger at all.

In his thirties, Tony saw the commonly quoted fact that most serial killers that have been caught and profiled suffered head injuries as children, although not as serious as the one he had. Tony began corresponding with many serial killers i
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Tlingit
POSSIBLE SPOILERS

I'd already written this review until my browser crapped out. GRRRRR. Anyway, to sum it up: Good story, good composition, basic writing, dumb title. I'd seen a movie called "Dear Mr. Gacy" this Spring. It's a true story about a young guy who wrote to some serial killers: Dahmer, Manson, Ramirez, and Gacy. And he didn't just write to them he got involved with them. The people here who have issue with Tony's parents and their involvement would do good to see this movie (I haven'
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D'Anne
This was, by far, the most graphic and explicit book about serial killers I have ever read. And I have read many. At the beginning of the book the author quotes author Jack Olsen: "I start every book with the idea that I want to explain how this seven or eight pounds of protoplasm went from his mommy's arms to become a serial rapist or serial killer. I think a crime book that doesn't do this is pure pornography." It is, in many ways, a warming: shit's about to get real. But honestly, I'm not sur ...more
Janice
This is the story (or one aspect of the story) of Anthony Ciaglia, a dynamic young man who against all odds courageously fights to reclaim his mind, body and spirit following a traumatic brain injury at the age of fifteen. After years in rehab, frustrated with an altered personality, impaired judgement, boughts with rage, boredom, depression and shunning by his friends, Tony struggles to find meaning for his new life. With the support of his family and doctors, he pursues a hobby: writing to con ...more
Sue
Dec 04, 2013 Sue rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: crimen
Wow! Great book! Such an interesting approach. True, inspiring success story. Wonderful example of: “When life gives you lemons . . . make lemonade.” Contemporary, well-written and not padded—gets right to the point. Good pictures, good title, good cover, a real page-turner. Emotional tearjerker, at times. Hugs for you, Tony.

I was not scandalized by the material because I have also interacted closely with inmates, worked in hospitals and attended autopsies, etc.; (Criminal Justice degrees).
Nicola Mansfield
Reason for Reading: Various reasons really. First of all I have an interest in serial killers. Secondly, I was intrigued by Tony Ciaglia's brain injury and what led him to write to serial killers and finally I enjoy books that contains letters.

This book is not for the squeamish. It contains brutal letters from serial killers describing their crimes in graphic detail. Without having read the book, one will first wonder what purpose this serves. Is it gratuitous and voyeuristic or does it serve so
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Claudia
I really enjoyed this book - not only as a criminology student, and lover of true crime. Also having an honours degree in psychology, I found the aftermath of the brain injury a fascinating journey. Lack of emotion control, changes in behaviour patterns, and so on are common in certain forms of brain injuries. They're also known to be displayed in the profiles of serial killers. Sharing these aspects, it was easy for Tony to be able to empathize with many serial killers now in the prison system. ...more
Tina
Aug 06, 2013 Tina rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: True Crime Readers
Shelves: listened-to
WOW… if you like true crime books, this one is a MUST!!!

This book is well written by Pete Earley and the Audio book was narrated by Alan Sklar, one of the best narrators around.

BUT BE WARNED - this is not just a true crime book and IT IS NOT for the squeamish. This Book is not what you would first expect, as it is so much more. As a reader you are drawn into the minds of these monsters, murderers and rapist like no other book has. This book is filled with actual brutal letters from serial killer
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Christina Vo

Pete Earley's The Serial Killer Whisperer tells the story of Tony Ciaglia, a boy with a head injury who gains an obsession with contacting America's most infamous serial killers. The book follows the life of the Ciaglia family throughout Texas to Nevada, where they simultaneously deal with Tony's brain injury and his dark world of serial killers. Tony's head injury causes him to be obsessive and easily angered, greatly burdening the Ciaglia family, who have to constantly force him to take his me

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Kristi
I think I struggled somewhat due to the dual nature of this book. On one hand, it's a story about someone who suffered a terrible traumatic brain injury that he was not expected to survive, but he did. How he struggled, how he and his family dealt with the life-altering changes that such an injury causes in the person who suffers from it, how refocusing on a few subjects helped him cope with life thereafter: all these are part of that story. And, honestly, though I empathize with those who have ...more
Kyle Wendy Skultety (gimmethatbook.com)
Not for the squeamish, this story is about a teenager who suffers a traumatic brain injury and develops mood swings and intense anger as a result of the accident. He also develops an affinity for the minds of serial killers, writing to them in jail and trying to find out if they are like him. Filled with gory details, such as the man who made sandwiches out of his victims, this book will shock you. I"m not that easily shocked, so really, the only thing that filled me with wonder was the entire f ...more
Isabella
While it was not what I hope for, it was a pretty good book. The title is misleading in the sense that it's more of a biography than about serial killers and how Tony used them to solve cold cases. The whole book was pretty pretentious and it still bothers me that Tony would send pictures of his girlfriend in bikinis to killers and rapists.
Pamela Smith
There were points where I had to take a break while reading the graphic, exaggerated letters, moreso out of boredom than disgust. The last part was reminiscent of The Murder Room by Michael Capuzzo, though nowhere near as satisfying. I also began to wonder why the author had chosen to present so many detailed descriptions of female victimes being raped and murdered, when Ciaglia had been in correspondance with killers who had done the same to men. It almost felt disrespectful and pornographic at ...more
Robin Dilks
I found this book both disturbing and inspiring. As a parent to be allowed inside the heads of serial killers disturbed me and made me want to make my grown daughters read it. Tony's story is amazing, and how he took such a horrific life experience and turned it into something helpful and productive was inspiring. It gave me nightmares to hear what his pen pals had to say. If your a parent, or not, a young woman I recommend you read this, if nothing more it may make you think before putting your ...more
Kipahni
hmmmm. Perhaps what disturbed me the most was how closely Tony identified and admired his killers. The lack of boundries he had with them also I found very hard to understand. Why would you want to share such intimate details with such morally corrupt people, and choose to call them friend? As the proverb goes "Bad company currupts good character"
Now I do find it interesting the juxtaposition of how tony handled his demons vs the serial killers. It appears family, love and faith play a higher r
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Erika
I admit it. I've become a weak wimp in my old age. I was fascinated with this story of a boy who gets a traumatic brain injury and ends up corresponding with serial killers. I only got about halfway through though because I couldn't stomach the actual letters. Killers talked about rape, torture, mutilation and in one case cutting up bodies and feeding them to unsuspecting customers at a roadside barbeque stand. They were too graphic and gory for me but I wish they hadn't been. I think this is a ...more
Lela
I'm not sure on when I finished it, let alone when I started it. So, pardon me.

But, this book was fairly interesting!
If you've ever wondered, 'what leads someone to murder?' Or, 'what goes through their mind?'
This book gives a startling approach.

When I first picked up this book, I thought only of it as mere fiction, but as I dove into it, I realized I was learning someone's actual story and reading actual letter's from notorious serial killers.
(Raw and unedited!)

Although the letters came off vul
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Sariah
I read this book as sort of an unofficial companion piece to "The Psychopath Whisperer" - a book written by a scientist who has made a career of studying the brains of actual psychopaths. In it he mentions that many people who have suffered traumatic brain injuries have brains that look identical to the brains of psychopaths and have many of the same social markers (grandiose sense of self/achievement, no impulse control, selfish/self-centered, etc.)

The Serial Killer Whisperer is the true story
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Vicki Elia
Audiobook Review

Reading till part 8 in audio, I finally quit. The story of a young man Tony Ciaglia, tragically wounded in an accident that left him with a major TBI, is heartbreaking. His later pursuit of writing to serial killers is a dubious venture for anyone with a traumatic brain injury, and would be immediately halted by any respectable medical professional. The potential risk of violent and obsessive/compulsive behavior this could reinforce is tremendous. Tony already displayed those beh
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Rick
“The Serial Killer Whisperer: How One Man's Tragedy Helped Unlock the Deadliest Secrets of the World's Most Terrifying Killers by Pete Earley started off strong but quickly became a bit tedious. I am all for the murder and mayhem genre and my wife especially loves it, but this book just couldn’t shake free of the hole it dug. Ostensibly about a young man who suffers a traumatic brain injury and eventually becomes somewhat of a conduit for serial killers to channel their atrocities…the book very ...more
Lisa
I think most of us today, kind of have the idea that serial killers are psychopathic, and thoroughly enjoy the terror and pain of their victims. I really had to skip through much of this book, I'm still on the fence, on how to review it. I don't feel like these human anomalies deserved such a voice, or to enjoy reliving the horrors of their crimes. While I think the communication with these individuals, and the work with profilers is valuable, I don't see any justifiable purpose in describing th ...more
Alison
This book is incredibly interesting. On the one hand it is disgusting - the vivid details and descriptions of crimes committed is often difficult to get through. The obvious pleasure the killers get out of recanting their stories is enough to make you want to vomit. But on the other hand, this is real. People died horrible deaths at the hands of these killers and I don't think their deaths should be covered up, ignored, or censored. I have read many true crime books, most about individual killer ...more
Heather Young
I rate this book a 3.5 out of 5 at no fault to the author and Tony, but merely due to the fact of the difficulty of reading and understanding horrific crimes people are capable of. I understood what I was going to read going into the book, however half way through I almost could no longer stomach some of the letters and was tired of reading of the heinous crimes committed.
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Pete Earley is a storyteller who has penned 13 books including the New York Times bestseller The Hot House and the 2007 Pulitzer Prize finalist Crazy: A Father’s Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness.
After a 14-year career in journalism, including six years at The Washington Post, Pete became a full-time author with a commitment to expose the stories that entertain and surprise.
His honest
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More about Pete Earley...
Crazy: A Father's Search Through America's Mental Health Madness The Hot House: Life Inside Leavenworth Prison Comrade J Witsec: Inside the Federal Witness Protection Program Super Casino: Inside the "New" Las Vegas

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