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3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  309 ratings  ·  37 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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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...more
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...more
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
Joey Simeroth
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.
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...more
Jay T.
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...more
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
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...more
Sara Myers
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...more
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...more
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
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
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.
This was hard to put down. But it's creepy how (view spoiler).
Teresa Lukey
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.
Aug 30, 2011 Marc rated it 3 of 5 stars
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.
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.
If you are a 'Dexter' fan, you will love this book. You feel genuine sympathy for the main character even though you don't really want to. It's brutal in it's language and descriptions of murder so it's not for the squeamish.
Well written. Interesting to read a book about a serial killer and feel sorry for the killer. Also interesting to see a moral code from a killer. Not saying its the way I go, but the premise is thought-provoking.
It's Dexter avant la lettre; serial killers who only kills people who deserve it (though Blackburn's standards are a tad lower than Dexter's). It was an easy read, with some very funny moments in it.
John Milton
Quick read. I remember enjoying reading it. However if you want to read a real book about a serial killer read American Psycho.The gore and sadistic aspect of killing will make you cringe.
An excellent character study; a funny, sympathetic portrait of a serial killer, as well as a semi-pastoral observation of American life and values.
Samantha Leighanne
To read a full review of this novel, please visit my blog at
May 28, 2008 Ben rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2008
A far-better-than-average serial killer narrative. A less lurid, less glitzy, more piercing Dexter.

Reads really quickly, too.
This book was just downright creepy..yet I found myself feeling sorry for a serial killer!
Jan 13, 2010 Melanie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Emily Arnold, April Leidig-Higgins
Blackburn is such a wonderfully twisted character, I couldn't wait to see what he would do next.
Predictable, for the most part...but engrossing and endlessly readable.
intense and gory and i think they based the show "dexter" on this book
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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...more
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