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The Misbegotten Son

4.04  ·  Rating Details ·  818 Ratings  ·  59 Reviews
The bestselling author of Predator and Doc dissects the shattering life of a charming, ruthless, and twice-convicted serial killer. Olsen delves into the psychology of Arthur Shawcross, who had characteristics of a pedophile, paraphile, misogynist, necrophile, and philanderer, yet still managed to charm a release out of a parole board.
Paperback, 592 pages
Published September 1st 1993 by Island Books (first published 1993)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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BAM The Bibliomaniac
This is an appalling crime story. However nothing made me shout aloud until I heard the medical testimony at the preliminary hearing.
Oh my lord, this criminal makes me want to vomit. He truly is a monster.
I take that back somewhat. By the end I at last am told why he has his urges. As a former special needs teacher, I am sadly reminded of a very young boy who may fit this same category. I hope I never see him in the news.
Jim Thomsen
Sep 05, 2009 Jim Thomsen rated it really liked it
The late Jack Olsen was simply incapable of writing a bad book. First, few true-crime authors demonstrated such a stubborn insistence on chasing down every stray fact and every peripheral character as this former magazine writer from journalism's Golden Age. Second, his tender-tough-guy prose keeps what might have been exhausting expositions in the hands of lesser writers crackling along like ice cubes in a glass of whiskey.

And "The Misbegotten Son" is nowhere near Olsen's finest work. It's no
Alisi ☆ wants to read too many books ☆
I picked this up not realizing the killer was a serial killer. That's what summaries are for, right? Pft. I just skimmed it. And I find myself listening to a book on a serial killer. I hate these kinds of true crime novels. >.>;

Incidentally, I did recognize the killer from that Serial Killer Whisperer (or whatever) book.

The writing was standard for the genre. I thought there was a lot of stuff added in that shouldn't be in this book. I truly didn't need to know about a little girl who was
May 16, 2016 ANGELA rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: finished, true-crime
The Misbegotten Son raises the hypothesis of XYY males being at higher risk of psychopathic behaviors with the lack of empathy.
Jack Shawcross raped and murdered 2 children and was released from prison before his sentence was served. Of course he continued to murder in cold blood.
I could have done without the foul language and details of the murders. I cried for the two children and became angry at the murderer, and police. I could not understand why parents could leave small children unsupervi
Oct 05, 2011 Carla rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent, but...

Excellent cultural, ethnographic, and psychological study of criminal, victims, and communities. However, the Kindle edition has many odd typos: words cleaved in two by a space, and exclamation points repeatedly substituted for capital I's.
Kelly A. Marsolek

The editing killed the story. While it's understandable for the narrative portions to be contradictory, the actual text did not always flow appropriately. In places it read like it was cut and pasted and never proofread.
Andrew Vachss
Nov 15, 2009 Andrew Vachss rated it it was amazing
The undisputed King of True-Crime.
Phil Travers
Feb 17, 2017 Phil Travers rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime, jack-olsen
Well, wow this is quite a read/listen. This story of a serial killer is graphic and intriguing. Told from several different perspectives: the perpetrator, the perpetrator's mother, the perpetrator's wife, police, psychiatrists, and so on this book is both hard to read and hard to put down at the same time. The audiobook is narrated by Kevin Pierce whose voice draws in the listener. There is so much happening in this book, I need to listen to it again to more fully appreciate the ending the endin ...more
Jan 09, 2017 Tony rated it liked it
Well written, educational book. This novel does an excellent job of giving the reader a glimpse of the horrible things that happen in the world.
Steve Caldwell
Jan 05, 2016 Steve Caldwell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As I was told by the narrator when he gifted me this copy, this one is a monster. He was not lying! This story retells the life story of Aurthur Shawcross, who murdered 16 prostitutes in Rochester. NY after his release from prison for murdering a young girl (who he raped as well, as well as murdering a young boy he was never charged with). This guy was a true monster, a guy people thought was 'off' from a young age. This book covers his life, and his interactions with his wives, lovers and famil ...more
I got this in a big box of used books my sister sent to me from Colorado. There must have been a dozen books in the box and I had read none of them! (And they all look interesting.) I chose this first because I remembered the name Arthur J. Shawcross.
In the late 1960s-early-1970s this pedophile/child murderer from up-state New York pled to manslaughter and got out of prison after serving only twelve years. The authorities tried to send him back to the town where he committed the murders and t
Tom Schulte
May 15, 2014 Tom Schulte rated it really liked it
There is an amazing amount of details and research, including interviews around the life and crimes of Arthur Shawcross. First as a fiendish, murderous pederast, Act I of Shawcross' miserable life ends with him in jail. Act II finds him paroled and unable to live without being hounded out of community after community to end up in Rochester and accelerate his crimes to high frequency prostitute killings. I go back and forth on capital punishment. But, if someone cannot be successfully reintroduce ...more
Jul 17, 2012 Lizzie rated it it was amazing
Re-read. A weird and interesting serial killer. He changed his M.O. from murdering children to killing prostitutes in Rochester, New York. Olsen was my favorite true crime writer, mainly because he just listens and lets everybody – Shawcross, his ex-wives, the victim’s family – tell their story, which is much more chilling than any dramatic prose could be. Everybody in this book is damaged. Here’s the mother of one of the child victims: “I go out to his car and my drunken husband was sittin’ in ...more
Jan 21, 2016 Jeff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The strength of this book comes from the meticulous research reported by Olsen, including first-person interviews with the wives, girlfriends, co-workers,
police officers, therapists, and even a prostitute who "played dead" for Shawcross. It takes one of the most in-depth looks at the psychology of a serial
killer I've ever read and draws attention to the ineffectiveness of our system of rehabilitation and parole. In hindsight, Shawcross should never have
been released from prison, but our current
The Misbegotten Son is different from other true crime books I've read because it almost reads like fiction because of the pacing and smooth flow. I liked the way the book was broken into sections with points of view from people directly involved with the case. These portions of the book were among the best because you heard first hand accounts from the victims families and how the murder of their loved one impacted their lives. I'm a huge true crime fan and thought this book was quite well writ ...more
May 03, 2012 Kirsten rated it it was amazing
This book was one of my first true crime novels that I read. It was riveting! I was able to recognize the locations described in the book because I lived in the area of where the story was based. Jack Olsen appears to be historically accurate regarding the details, right down to the District Attorney in Watertown, NY that still has strong family ties to the area today. This book really gets your heart racing and I highly concider this book a page turner! You wouldn't be wasting your time with th ...more
Trixie Fontaine
Apr 11, 2009 Trixie Fontaine rated it it was amazing
The best true crime I've read (my favorite alongside Ellroy's _My Dark Places_). Horrifying and surprisingly (for the genre) challenging at the very end; without turning typical true-crime-readers off with a "bleeding heart liberal" approach, the information Olsen presents and the way he does it force you to recognize how truly fucked up a case like this is on so many levels and from so many personal perspectives. Felt truly objective to me while still being readably, grotesquely, exploitatively ...more
Cheryl Barkley
May 05, 2016 Cheryl Barkley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent Writing, Kept me up reading!

I have been a fan of True Crime writing for over 30 years. I found Jack Olsen to be exceptional in his ability to organize and relate a complex history and investigation in a riveting and extremely thorough manner. This is the first of his books that I have enjoyed, but it certainly will not be the last. I especially enjoyed the medical investigation by Richard Theodore Kraus, M.D., F.A.P.A., as my medical career involved me with brain function, but I think
Feb 13, 2012 Bigkev rated it really liked it
A serial killer that killed two kids and was then let out for him to go on and kill street walkers it gives you a lot about of info about the killer from his school days to his arrest. A really big liar that could not live in reality and one doctor's quest to find out the truth about what makes Arthur Shawcross tick. This book is the first one i have read from Jack Olsen i have since bought three more of his.
Marianne Jay
Mar 06, 2009 Marianne Jay rated it really liked it
This book was so disturbing. To realize that such evil exists just confounds me. How and Why does someone become this.........

I know that Mr. Shawcross is deceased....however I believe that his wife Rose M. Shawcross is still alive. He divorced Rose and married Clara Neal - and both Shawcross and Neal died in 2008

This book was very well written and if you are a true crime buff like myself - will love this book
Lisa Stethem
May 12, 2016 Lisa Stethem rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the way this book was written. You get many different sides of the victims, the killer and his family. I didn't like the fact that there were no pictures so you can put a face with the dialogue. Besides that it stays true to the true crime genre. A crazy serial killer who murdered 13. The last section of the psychological aspects lost me a bit and still didn't make he understand the killer.
Sep 15, 2012 Fishface rated it really liked it
Horrible story of a serial killer who killed some kids, went to prison, unaccountably got released, then killed some adults. Makes you wonder what could possibly be going on in the criminal justice system. The medicolegal angle is unusually fascinating in this case and I really wonder how many other cases of this sort there may be out there.
Jan 21, 2016 Julie rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
There is a great amount of detail here on Shawcross' life, from his childhood and family all the way through his eventual talks with police and psychiatrists after his capture. I found it really interesting trying to figure this guy out. This is definitely one of the better true crime books I've read.
Jan 20, 2016 A.r. rated it really liked it
Very chilling and graphic look into the life of a horrible serial killer (Arthur Shawcross). I read this while on holidays and it kept me spellbound every night. The descriptions are graphic, but not gratuitous. This is my favourite Jack Olsen book, and I think he is one of the greatest of True Crime writers.
Susan Mcreynolds
Interesting for sure, but the manuscript has serious problems. Riddled with typos and formatting issues. It's almost as if the paper document was scanned in and was never reviewed and corrected before publishing (OCR is just not accurate enough). The author should be embarrassed by these problems as it reflects on him -- although I like this author.
Apr 22, 2015 Deb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: true-crime
An Intense read!

I enjoyed the detail the author put into the book. It was well researched. The downside was the kindle version had a lot of errors, misspellings and asterisks quotes in the middle of paragraphs, chopping the ebb and flow of the book.
janet smart
May 13, 2015 janet smart rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jack Olson Does It Again-Home Run!

I'm an avid true crime reader, and I know a winner after a few pages. This is what the genre is all about: Well developed characters telling their stories in their own voices. Superb!
Elizabeth Black
Feb 18, 2013 Elizabeth Black rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
Excellent, excellent book. If I could, I would give it 4 and 1/2 stars. Enthralling, captivating, spine-tingling, goose-bumpy, and intriguing. I ate this book up as I cozied up with a serial killer.
Deborah L. Cutter
Good Story

The story line was good. This book was very poorly proofread and very hard to follow at times. I wouldn't recommend buying this book electronically until these errors have been corrected.
Feb 01, 2014 David rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes based on true story cases.
Recommended to David by: A friend
Iread this book while deployed to Iraq. The author takes you on a mental walk through the areas where the murders happened. I am from the Watertown, NY area and some of the places he talks about I've never been there. I could actually see me walking through areas with the police.
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