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3.91  ·  Rating Details  ·  396 Ratings  ·  48 Reviews
Blackburn is a serial killer. But, like the rest of us, he confronts the same hypocrisies and frustrations of the world and, unable to help himself, or at the mercy of circumstance, he crosses a dangerous threshold--and he kills. In this novel, we meet many of his twenty-one victims: law enforcers, writers, adulterers, auto mechanics, and other liars. And each crime reveal ...more
Trade Paperback, 296 pages
Published May 2007 by Picador (first published 1993)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,624)
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3.0 to 3.5 stars. An at times funny and at times shocking novel about a serial killer who only kills those that "deserve it" at least in his mind. No women and no children. An excellent character study of a serial killer with a "code" that is not based on any of the social mores that most people have. Through Bradley Denton's excellent writing, he makes us care about a character that kills people. Not an easy thing to do. Recomended.

Nominee: Bram Stoker Award for Best Novel (1994)
Nominee: Locus
May 06, 2012 Scott rated it it was amazing
A wild vivid ride through the psychology and accounts from one man's abused upbringing into a world where his actions and experiences are grafted together to form a cause that leaves male victims "justifiably" executed. As opposed to loathing or fearing him, you immediately love and root for him...Jimmy Blackburn IS the ultimate vigilante...the "cleaner." "People can't punish themselves for their sins. Only the people they've sinned against can do that." That is where he steps in. You can almost ...more
Jul 11, 2014 Daryl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
What a great book. Blackburn tells the story of Jimmy Blackburn, a highly intelligent and moral (in a very skewed fashion) serial killer. We get some flashbacks to Jimmy's youth, showing some of the reason why he turned out the way he did, but most of the novel centers around Blackburn's encounters with his various victims as he moves from town to town, taking on different identities. The back cover blurb describes the book as "riotously funny." I wondered how the story of a serial killer could ...more
Anna Maria
Mar 05, 2016 Anna Maria rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mass-murderer
Jimmy Blackburn has a childhood full of abuse, and grows up to become a mass-murderer. The twist is that he only kills people he feels truly deserve it - and that you, as a reader, will be so convinced by him that you will feel they deserve it, too. Anyone who is just a little bit honest will find themselves rooting for him as he deals out justice to animal abusers, wife beaters, unfaithful spouses, lying salesmen and all the other sorts of jerks that have made most people (or dogs) miserable at ...more
Joey Simeroth
Oct 12, 2011 Joey Simeroth rated it liked it
A sympathetic killer? Perhaps at times. Slightly disturbing in places, but otherwise a quick fun read. It almost started to fall apart for me at the end but the final pages brought it all back together for a satisfying finale.
Feb 14, 2015 Lisa rated it it was amazing
This is the story of a man who deals with unfairness and injustice the only way he knows how. That is with violence.

The story is an interesting one. It begs the question: is a serial killer really evil if he only kills those that take advantage of and harms the innocent? What makes someone "the bad guy" or "the good guy" in today's society: is it the person's behavior, or is it the motive behind that behavior, regardless if it upholds or breaks the social contract?

Possibly one of the few stories
Brad Kirk
Jul 04, 2015 Brad Kirk rated it really liked it
If you are a sociopath, do not read this book. If someone you know is a sociopath, do not recommend this book to them. If your child is a sociopath, do not let them read this book. I think the scariest thing about this book is that I can just see some person roughly the same age as Jimmy Blackburn in this book and really identifying with him and saying, "Yes! This is the answer!" and then going on a killing rampage. Having said that, it is not the job of authors or any other artist to make sure ...more
May 21, 2015 Taysha rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horror
Blackburn is my favorite, and the best, novel written from the perspective of a serial killer. One could argue that, since those are few and far between, there isn't enough basis for comparison to crown a "winner". However, the qualities of Blackburn that place it miles ahead of anything that might compare are distinctive and many in number.

Bradley Denton uses his sincere third-person narrator and straightforward, down-to-earth writing style to fully draw the reader into the mind of James Blackb
Jun 27, 2008 Tripp rated it it was amazing
Because I am apparently a sap for marketing and other shiny objects, I gravitate towards new books. I am well aware of all the older books I have yet to read, but I still focus my attention on the new sections of the library and the bookstore. I really appreciate it when publishers reissue classic works that missed my attention the first time. So a hearty thanks to Picador for re-issuing the stellar Blackburn by Bradley Denton.

The story is a tragic tale of a creation of a monster, Blackburn, wit
Jay T.
Nov 25, 2012 Jay T. rated it really liked it
Shelves: 4-star
Blackburn by Bradley Denton

Have you ever wished or hoped to be able to teach others a lesson?
Have you ever witnessed an injustice only to later wish there was something you could do? Have you ever just wanted to help others being taken advantage of? If yes , have any of the outcomes you invisioned resulted in the murder of others. For Jimmy Blackburn he has done just that.
Bradley Denton's protaganist Jimmy Blackburn was raised in a broken home with a drunk abusive father who both physicaly and m
I've read a number of serial killer novels, but this has to be my favorite. Jimmy Blackburn isn't like most serial killers; he doesn't kill for the thrill of it or for some sexual need, but rather to dispense justice where the system so often fails. Con artists, scammers, cheaters, religious extremists who would bomb abortion clinics, they all find themselves brought to account by Jimmy. And the journey from Jimmy's childhood in poverty in Kansas to his execution is both poignant and funny.
Read this short, concise character study of a serial killer in two and a half days, it kept my attention and is written simply enough to absorb overdrawn, overdescriptive sentences here just a straight up and down story of the hardships and actions of a disturbed boy done wrong by the world basically or everyone in his world from his parents, his community and even his wife. You end up feeling sorry for him especially when he kills over the mistreatment of a dog, potentially his only ...more
Jun 30, 2015 Emily rated it really liked it
Wow! Blackburn was a page-turner. It was disturbing at least 80% of the time...but also funny. In the scenes with Morton towards the end of the novel, I laughed out loud several times. And of course, as I think Denton wants, you do start to feel some strange and unexpected sympathy for Blackburn, some understanding of his rationale.

I'd be interested to see what else Bradley Denton has written. While Blackburn wasn't exactly life-changing, it was definitely a worthwhile read that held my attenti
Jeremy Hurd-McKenney
3.5 stars, I think. This was a pretty fascinating character study, and it was highly readable, but it skirted the line between dark humor and dumb just a few too many times to give it a full 4 stars. It's definitely a one-man show, though; outside of Jimmy Blackburn, the rest of the characters were pretty one dimensional.

Unrelated to the story: The cover art on the edition I read was pretty righteous.
Mar 16, 2010 Chris rated it it was amazing
In my point of view this book received its fifth star in the last two chapters. With the inclusion of a new messiah named Morton and the combination of an amazing practical joke and touching moment as the book closes.

Jimmy Blackburn's life starts out hard and never gets easy. But I was entertained by the workings of his mind even as early as the third grade, even if it was a bit far fetched. Author Bradley Denton winds a tale that is touching, funny, cruel and heartbreaking.

It's a night and day
Neilie J
Apr 20, 2016 Neilie J rated it really liked it
Loved the descriptions in this one. For example:
"Mrs. Porter was fat, and her breath smelled like burnt newspapers."

Other than that, its appeal lies mostly in its deft, Dexter-like justification for murder. The "hero" learns early about the ugly side of humanity and reacts the way many of us wish we could. Wife-beaters, grifters, rapists, people who abuse animals - they're all in Blackburn's sites and it's hard not to cheer him on as he subjects them to some frontier justice.
Sara Myers
Feb 27, 2014 Sara Myers rated it really liked it
I really wanted to give this book 3 1/2 stars, why is that not an option? Disturbing yet funny...I am not sure it is appropriate to laugh while reading a novel about a serial killer. The violence, while common, wasn't overly gory. 'Morton giveth, and Morton taketh away.'
Read this on a recommendation from my best friend who loved it. And like all true Best Friends, she knows me to the core. This is now on my list of All-time Favorites.

Jimmy Blackburn has had his share of pain and suffering. But unlike most of us, he decides to so something about it. But only to the ones that really deserve it. Like the man that beats his wife. Or the driver that intentionally runs over a dog. Blackburn is a serial killer with sympathy and morals. Funny, touching, morbid and sur
Aug 16, 2012 Karen rated it really liked it
I always enjoy Bradley Denton's work.

This is probably the least horrific novel about a serial killer I've ever read. Admittedly it's the only one, but I imagine that most will be about the gore factor, which this isn't.

It's just the story of a guy who had a tough upbringing and after accidentally killing someone finds that he is comfortable having crossed that line, and so, when someone pisses him off enough he shoots them in the head.

He does at one point dabble with ironic murder, but finds it
Arthur Rosenfeld
Jan 05, 2015 Arthur Rosenfeld rated it really liked it
I always enjoy Denton's work.
Evan Mallon
Nov 18, 2014 Evan Mallon rated it really liked it
Very disturbing but also extremely funny at points. Great read.
Jun 23, 2009 Stephanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book in high school, a long time ago...(well not THAT long ago) and I remember really enjoying it, not being able to put it down. Going to pick up a copy an re-read it so I can give a proper review. For now, I'm going to say 4 stars, since I still think about this book from time to time.

What I do remember is that it's about an abused child who grows up to become a serial killer. And believe it or not, you don't read the book hating this guy. weird I KNOW, but thats what I remember.
Baal Of
May 02, 2013 Baal Of rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: borrowed, fiction
I'm not sure what to say about this book. It's both repulsive and compelling, just like the character of Blackburn. A serial murderer with his own set of rules about when it's ok, or maybe necessary, to kill. The ending is brilliant in it's stark, unflinching realism, and the fact that it doesn't resort to a happy ending. I didn't find the book funny, as some reviewers did, so I'm not sure how it gets tagged as a dark comedy, but perhaps that speaks to how intense the characterizations are.
While usually I try to steer clear of any books with the serial killer taint this was different enough that I ended up thinking it was well worth reading. More of a character study, with some extremely dark humor. I originally meant to read it back when it was first published but had forgotten about it. Was reminded by the Rap Sheet's list of underappreciated books
Rachel Swindler
Feb 19, 2010 Rachel Swindler rated it liked it
I've never really read any serial killer fiction before so I really have nothing to compare it to. It was an enjoyable and quick read-I read it in a couple hours-that didn't require much thought besides the "oh, I wonder who he's going to kill next and how this is going to end." It did explore quite a bit the interesting idea of killing someone because they are doing bad things.
Jan 24, 2014 mstan rated it really liked it
This was hard to put down. But it's creepy how (view spoiler).
Teresa Lukey
Jan 24, 2012 Teresa Lukey rated it liked it
Shelves: own-it, fiction
Definitely a strange story. Blackburn is a serial killer who you'll feel sorry for and occasionally side with. He is presented with a variety of typical quirky people and you'll find out just how he deals with these people. Sometimes entertaining and sometimes morbid, this book is a unique read for sure.
Jan 28, 2016 Jacqueline rated it liked it
A strange book about a a boy who grows up thinking that killing is justified if a person deserves it. I empathized with the main character and at the same time was repelled by his behavior. The last quarter of the book was the most interesting. This is probably not for everyone though.
Aug 30, 2011 Marc rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Wanna be serial killers, vigilante boosters, etiquette nazis
Shelves: fiction, dark-downer
Your Serial-Killer-With-a-Heart-of-Gold type story. A fictional autobiography of an angry young man with a rigid code of ethics and a willingness to judge others as harshly as he does himself.

Entertaining if you might be the type that sympathizes with heroic young Lecters.
Apr 10, 2009 Jeff rated it really liked it
Killing is wrong. But what about a person who kills for the right reasons?

The story of a man with strict moral guidelines who struggles to understand the cruelty he sees in the world. He would never harm a woman or a dog. And he only kills men who deserve it.
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Bradley Clayton Denton (born 1958) is an American science fiction author. He has also written other types of fiction, such as the black comedy of his novel Blackburn, about a sympathetic serial killer.
He was born in Towanda, Kansas, and attended the University of Kansas at Lawrence and graduated with degrees in astronomy (B.A.) and English (M.A.). His first published work was the short story "The
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“Every word after that had been unintelligible, dissolved in amplification. Blackburn rather enjoyed that. He thought that any band that believed its lyrics were crucial was kidding itself. Kids out on Saturday night wanted to drink, dance, yell "Wooooooo!" and have sex with somebody. They didn't want to hear a bad poet bare the angst in his tortured and immature soul. They could go to college for that shit.” 0 likes
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