Killer Clown: The John Wayne Gacy Murders
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Killer Clown: The John Wayne Gacy Murders

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  1,844 ratings  ·  44 reviews
Who was John Wayne Gacy?

The model citizen whose business skills were admired by his peers?

The hospital volunteer whose sweet-faced clowning lightened the patients' days?

The member of the Jaycees who was a civic-minded friend of the community?

The depraved maniac who sodomized, tortured, and killed thirty-three young men and boys?

Shortly before Christmas of 1978, a teena

Paperback, 400 pages
Published November 1st 2000 by Pinnacle (first published 1983)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Ruthie Jones
Scared the heck out of me when I read this years ago! This book "cured" me of my obsession for true crime novels, although I still read them occasionally. I couldn't stand being alone while I was reading this gruesome story.
David Corvine
Predominately concerned with the police investigation and surveillance operation and then the subsequent trial. Balancing one person's right to freedom against another's is really the crux of libertarian thought but when one person has a compulsive desire to strangle another and then sodomize the corpse before burying it under his house then the choice seems quite clear cut to me. It is largely academic whether Gacy was mad or bad he clearly could not be allowed to remain at liberty. The fact th...more
Back of Book:
The model citizen whose business skills were admired by his peers?
The hospital volunteer whose sweet-faced clowning lightened the patients' days?
The member of the Jaycees who was a civic-minded friend of the community?

The depraved maniac who sodomized, tortured, and killed thirty-three young men and boys?
Shortly before Christmas of 1978, a teenage boy disappeared from the drugstore where he worked. He would be the final victim of John Wayne Gacy's horrifying...more
I decided to finally read this book after reading Devil in the White City. Both books are about mass murderers in Chicago and both highlight a bit of Chicago in the process. Unfortunately, Killer Clown struck a little too close to home and it took me a long time to read it and even longer to review. I was about 10 when I watched the body count each night on the news. I knew Gacy lived only 2 miles away and I knew he only killed teenage boys. At the time I didn't understand why. It was eerie to r...more
Ethan Hval
True Crime is one of my guilty pleasures. I usually pick up these types of books for some light reading in between works that I consider more artistic. However, from the moment I picked this book up I couldn't put it down. It is a fast paced, suspense filled ride written by one of the lead prosecutors for the case.

I'm always a fan of good reporting and courtroom drama. But the whole tone of this book brought me inside and I connected emotionally with many of the people involved including the mo...more
I was warned by reviews on Amazon that this book was really heavy in the police and trial procedural stuff, and not the psychological aspect of Gacy himself. I was largely okay with this since I am usually really interested in the workings of the criminal justice system. But this book got pretty boring pretty quickly. The first half of the book is essentially a play-by-play account of undercover officers tailing Gacy. They watch his house, they follow his truck, they play a computer football gam...more
Interesting story, of course, and having the first person account made for some excellent details, to be sure. On the other hand, this is a book written by the prosecutor. It has an awful lot of details. Prosecutors do that.
Basically, this story is so very horrifying, and yet this book didn't affect me emotionally as much as some others have, which I think is because the writing just wasn't quite as good. That being said, JWG is so awful that maybe that is a good thing?
Amazing book about a serial killer. Includes the bizarre story of his reaction to 24-hour surveillance for a month while they figured out what he had done - speeding, inviting the police to lunch, inviting them into his house. Gacy was the first serial killer I had ever heard of, and he still fascinates me.
Dec 02, 2007 Nicole rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Peeps who luv serial killer and true crime books
Ugh, this book creeped me the hell out. The man was a monster. My uncle worked at Cook County when he was incarcerated. He met Gacy briefly and said he was as charming as could be. Rot in hell Gacy!
So goddamn scary.
A chilling story with more than 30 victims, but rather clinically told. Too many procedural details - did we really need to know what Gacy ate during every day of the surveillance? - but really delivered during the section with the discovery of the bodies in the crawl space. Perhaps the craziest thing to think about is that Gacy got away with murdering teenage boys (and burying them in that crawl space, in which some of his victims had previously helped dig their own graves) for so long by preyi...more
Chelsey Edelen miller
I knew going in that this book was written by the author and the help of the investigators. However I like it. I have read about Gacy's physiological problems elsewhere so this was a nice way to round out the whole thing for me. My friends were less than impressed though. But I'll read just about anything true crime!
Kevin Mellor
How can anybody not like Gacy? A smarmy, overweight former Kentucky Fried Chicken manager turned construction business owner and civic leader, the Grand Poobah of his local Jaycees chapter, a clown at local parties who even had his photo taken with President Carter's wife.

Oh yeah, and he abducted over 30 young boys by offering them high-paying construction jobs, getting them high, putting handcuffs on them and sodomizing their hopeful young backsides until he strangled them and buried them in t...more
I don't rate this five stars because of John Gacy. I rate this 5 stars because of Mr. Sullivan's attention to detail, and the thoroughness which he used to tell the story of this investigation. Yes, sometimes it is long and involved, with added dialogue, but he wanted to put the whole story out there, and he did.
I have a degree in criminal justice so I've read & learned a lot about serial killers and being from Chicago, I was especially interested in Gacy, but I was disappointed by this book. Maybe this is an unfair review because I was already fairly well aware of the circumstances of the crime, arrest, trial, and sentencing but I thought I should put it out there that this is not worth the read. It's a very detailed book but the details are worthless ones. I'd recommend checking out some websites...more
David Bales
Riveting and rather depressing story of John Wayne Gacy's maniacal bloodletting in the Chicagoland area in the 1970s. I had always thought Gacy was some weird loner but found that he was a garrulous "pal" of cops and connected to the local Democratic machine despite an earlier conviction for molestation in Iowa. A horrid sociopath, the Illinois police investigation is almost ridiculous, with car chases and a cringing "buddying up" strategy that would get most cops fired in 2012. Nothing enlighte...more
K.A. Krisko
Jun 08, 2013 K.A. Krisko rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: True Crime readers
Shelves: true-crime
Well, I learned some stuff I didn't know about John Wayne Gacy, and the author was definitely right in the middle of the action. But there were pages and pages of blow-by-blow descriptions of what the surveillance crew was doing at every moment - what they ate, when, what video games they played, the turns they took when following Gacy, much of which could have been summed up in a short chapter. A lot of it read like a report. On balance, a great point of view tempered by clinical treatment of m...more
The author spent half the book on the few weeks four officers tailed Gacy, and it wasn't too interesting. Then the rest of the book is about the trial. He mentions unnecessary tidbits throughout or makes jokes that come off about as gimmicky as the cover. The book wasn't engrossing to me because of the unnecessary details, and don't read this book if you're interested in getting into the mind of Gacy or his history. It's purely about the chase leading up to the trail and then the hearings.
Okay, I can see where Stephen King got the idea to write "IT" now that i've read this. I HATE CLOWNS, A LOT. But I bought this and found it pretty interesting, but totally creepy. It follows serial killer John Gacy, who dressed up as... brace yourself... a clown (shudders), and murdered several boys in his basement. Yes, that's pretty disgusting. Anyway, if you're into true crime, or shows such as Cold Case, Law & Order and the popular Criminal Minds, you might like this.
Aaron Martz
This book reads like an Ed McBain novel! It is thrilling, informative, horrifying, and darkly humorous. The plight of the detectives is harrowing as they deal with budget shortfalls, engine troubles, the icy conditions of Chicago freeways, and the bizarre behavior of their suspect, John Wayne Gacy, who leads them on wild goose chases, high speed pursuits, and on occasion invites them out for drinks. An unbelievable true crime tale with a vomit-inducing denouement.
This was a good read... An inside look from the detective that worked the case... It amazes me that Gacy wasn't caught sooner than he was... Gacy was also a talented painter, if you would have put as much effort in to his painting as he did into murdering people he would have probably made a name for himself in the art world. SAD...
Ty Labar
Like the title isn’t creepy enough, the book covers the police as they investigated the crimes of John Wayne Gacy. Written Terry Sullivan who was the State’s Attorney, it also covers the trial. This is the most informative book you will likely read on Gacy. It doesn’t make for light reading, but it is engrossing.
Working in law enforcement, I decided to read this book to see what goes through the mind of a sick individual. I'm not really sure what can be said about this book other than it was an eye-opener of sorts, showing that homicidal maniacs can be the guy next door that appears to be respectable and normal.
Laura K
Very informative, not only about the case but also the investigative process and trial. This is the book for those who are interested in the Gacy facts and story as a whole, not just the gory details. It was written by one of the prosecutors, so it covers exactly how they made their case against him stick.
Tim Hickey
Good book and very scary. What made Gacy snap?...I don't remember if they really explored his childhood and had the usual psychopathic childhood ie, bedwetting, arson, cruelty to animal.
Guess this is a kind of lame review not much info or recommendations. Might want to read this again.
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How a serial killer function "normally" in society, yet kill boys and bury them in his crawlspace as a sick compulsion. A powerful presentation of one of America's best known serial killers and how he was caught.
Horrifying, dreadful, shuddery. This story, full of the galows humor that allows the police on the scene to cope with whjat they saw, would have been a laugh a minute if so many people hadn't really died.
Gacy appeared to be a model citizen - he performed as a clown at children's birthday parties and helped out in his community. But Gacy had a dark side - that of a murderer.
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