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The Hillside Stranglers

3.92  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,026 Ratings  ·  51 Reviews
For weeks in the fall of 1977, as the body count of sexually violated, brutally murdered young women escalated, the Los Angeles newspapers headlined the increasingly alarming deeds of a serial killer they named the Hillside Strangler. But it would take more than another year and the mysterious disappearance of two young women in Seattle before the police would arrest one m ...more
Paperback, 448 pages
Published May 15th 2003 by Running Press (first published 1985)
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In Cold Blood by Truman CapoteHelter Skelter by Vincent BugliosiThe Stranger Beside Me by Ann RuleThe Devil in the White City by Erik LarsonTrue Hollywood Noir by Dina Di Mambro
Best True Crime
49th out of 576 books — 1,010 voters
In Cold Blood by Truman CapoteHelter Skelter by Vincent BugliosiThe Stranger Beside Me by Ann RuleThe Devil in the White City by Erik LarsonTrue Hollywood Noir by Dina Di Mambro
True Crime
364th out of 430 books — 531 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Christian Engler
Jul 30, 2014 Christian Engler rated it it was amazing
I was always aware of Darcy O'Brien as an impeccable fiction writer, especially for his book, A Way of Life, Like Any Other, which won the prestigious Ernest Hemingway Award. However, I did not know that he was equally adept at writing true crime, and The Hillside Stranglers is indeed his pièce de résistance. O'Brien gets into the nitty gritty of the underbelly of the deviant Los Angeles sex scene where booze, violence and pimping all went hand in hand. Added to that is the depictions of the gru ...more
Oct 21, 2014 Helga rated it liked it
I read this book due to a strong sense of curiosity. I lived in Glendale at the time of these murders and well remember the fear we all lived under. I was in junior high at the time. As I read, I could picture all the places mentioned. I remember that after we all found out of Buono's guilt, we were especially horrified when we realized that we had used his shop! He did auto upholstery and he had done one of our cars. Then as I read the book, I also discovered that one of the teachers at my scho ...more
Aug 29, 2015 Lynn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Comprehensive and thorough investigation into the crimes and trials of the Hillside Stranglers

Mr. O'Brien has written the quintessential account of the murder spree perpetrated by Angelo Buono and Kenneth Bianchi and done so in a manner that reads like a novel. The nearly 450 pages are filled with facts that are so bizarre the story probably wouldn't have been accepted it offered in the form of a novel. While these murders occurred nearly forty years ago, the crimes were so horrendous and the tw
Bill Gray
The true crime genre often draws the wrong sort of writers. This isn't, in my opinion, an instance of that. I notice that a lot of reviewers accuse O'Brien of having an eye to the lurid here. It's the story that's lurid, not O'Brien. For heaven's sake, if you have in your hand the story of two guys who strangled, tortured,and were convicted of murdering ten women, do you really have any business being shocked by what you read?

I've read a fair amount in this area, and think this is one of the mor
Oct 13, 2014 Lynn rated it did not like it
Shelves: did-not-finish
I was interested in the story of the Hillside Stranglers, but although this is well written and detailed, it is too detailed for me. The introduction of Buono and Bianchi, their actions, conversations, degradation of women and so on are so specific, it can't be all real and it is beyond disgusting. I made it to 30% and can go no farther. I am sure they were disgusting men and said things much like that and worse, but I can't just keep reading it.

Many great true crime writers do take these liber
Paul Impola
Jul 28, 2014 Paul Impola rated it it was ok
This author's style could be described as competent at best. The book reads as if he spent most of his time pouring through his thesaurus in a hunt for "fresh" adjectives.
But the real flaw is the lack of understanding and insight. The author is unable to give us any sense of what made these men tick. We never learn what led them to progress, with apparent ease, from a lifestyle of misogynistic promiscuity to a spree of serial murder.
There is an abundance of factual information here -- names, dat
Kimberly Pilya
Jun 16, 2012 Kimberly Pilya rated it really liked it
Very disturbing but a graphic and grotesque wake up call to the kind of evil present in our society.
Adrian Phoenix
Jan 10, 2010 Adrian Phoenix rated it really liked it
Shelves: true-crime, own
Again, as with most true crime, fascinating, but horrifying.
Mr Stewart
Jun 27, 2015 Mr Stewart rated it did not like it
Crass. Absurd fictional liberties are taken with dialogue and sequence of events, the evidence for which is nonexistent in most cases. If you are going to put words and actions to the mouths of real people in real events, you had better have a solid basis for it; testimony after the fact that refers directly to the exchanges made. O'Brien more or less makes it up as he goes along here. It is unacceptable for a true-crime writer to pull fictional exchanges from thin air in this way.
Jason Gusman
This is a good book about the Hillside Stranglers. It takes you through a background profile of each person up to the scare they put the city of Los Angeles into with their killing spree, and through the court process of Angelo Buono. There are some very interesting perspectives brought into this book. For example, the manipulative ways that pushed the duo to the point of killing. Also, there were some interesting aspects of how Bianchi played some mind games on a lot of people before, during, a ...more
May 09, 2014 Paul rated it did not like it
Gleeful in its depravity, "The Hillside Stranglers" is targeted for the sort of people who get their jollies googling crime scene photos. Granted, rare is the book about serial killers that ranks very high on the taste-o-meter, but O'Brien aims for the lowest common denominator and barely manages to hit the ground it stands on. When one picks up a book about two cousins who strangle women, the misogyny is a given; you don't need it enthusiastically spelled out at every opportunity. It's just the ...more
The Loopy Librarian
Sep 24, 2014 The Loopy Librarian rated it really liked it
The first few chapters are difficult to stomach but necessary I suppose to understand the sheer evil that these men perpetrated and just how callous and cold they were. But, I liked the book best when the author delved deeper into the case with the detectives and the trial. Fascinating and heart-breaking read. Well-researched and respectfully handled by the author.
Karen Bullock
Apr 04, 2015 Karen Bullock rated it really liked it
Shelves: true-crime
Bizarre crimes for the era it took place in & it is obvious that both Angelo Bueno & Kenneth Bianchi had a strong hatred for females.

Obviously the crime/punishment took place a long time ago but was interesting to read about the events, how they unfolded and how much the law has changed since it happened.
Dec 13, 2014 Kari rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gruesome but fascinating

This book was well written and well researched. The details of the murders were hard to read, but the rest of the book was fascinating. The courtroom drama was almost unbelievable. All in all a great book.
Appalling, sickening portrait of two cousins who really should have been drowned at birth. This is one of those rare true-crime stories that reads like great, great fiction. Very hard to put down, if you can stand to read it at all.
library goddess
Aug 04, 2013 library goddess rated it did not like it
Couldn't finish it. It's rare for me to stop a book without finishing it but I had to put this one down. It got so bogged down about 2/3 of the way through with Bianchi's attempted manipulation of the legal system that I found I just didn't care. The crimes were horrific and the murderers such scum! I could not believe that any woman would be attracted to either guy and yet the author contends that they had quite a harem. I did feel compassion for the effect that the crimes had on the investigat ...more
Joanne Poppenk
May 13, 2015 Joanne Poppenk rated it really liked it
Deeply disturbing account. The modus operandi of these characters is difficult to read.
Oct 19, 2014 Tricia rated it it was ok
Horrifying. Difficult to get through because it's true.
Rebecca Martin
Sep 16, 2013 Rebecca Martin rated it really liked it
I really appreciate Darcy O'Brien's approach to true crime. This book is pretty hard to take though. I had no idea of the details of these crimes, though I remember the period when they were occurring. I still like O'Brien's Murder in Little Egypt (5 stars) for its meticulous picture of a relatively isolated part of the country and a way of life. In contrast, The Hillside Stranglers is only enlightening about the murders themselves and the relationship between the criminals.
Jul 25, 2008 Kelli rated it liked it
I have always been intrigued by serial killers and thought I would read something about one I knew nothing about. This is a true story about two men who in the '70's would find prostitutes and kill them. I was deeply disturbed by some of the details and mistakenly would read this before bed, which meant a few scary dreams! But, overall if you like non-fictional stories about rape and murder, then you'd enjoy this. In all seriousness, it was interesting to enter the worlds of serial killers.
Dec 18, 2013 Shawna rated it really liked it
I read this book when I was quite young, maybe 12? (The reason I was aware of them was because of the made-for-TV movie that aired in 1989. It had a profound impact on me. I particularly liked O'Brien's conversational style, and how he added dialogue to the scenes that was likely imagined but "in the spirit" of truth. Amazing to think that if Bianchi had had a little more self-control up in Bellingham the two would likely have gotten away with it.
Michael Majewski
Jan 09, 2015 Michael Majewski rated it it was amazing
Dec 16, 2014 John rated it really liked it
Shelves: serial-killers
The story of the Hillside Stranglers is both sick and twisted. The method employed to attract and kill women seem out of a movie. To think that this is a true story is truly frightening. I am most interested in the legal part of the book as the trial was like none other I've read about recently. From PTSD to multiple personality disorder, these men were able to fool (at least some of) the experts. They almost got away with it!
Carrie Bray
Sep 10, 2013 Carrie Bray rated it really liked it
Well written kindle has a few errors that drives me crazy. Now the content there was a few places that I was gulping thought too much might be revealed (and I'm an ER RN , Paramedic , and Deputy Coroner ) so I have seen a lot don't get me wrong this isn't for the faint at heart but it wasn't grotesque... To me. This was well researched and I send prayers to all involved as it torn many lives apart.
Dec 16, 2008 Aysha rated it liked it
Once in a while I have to read something to keep me from being a fairy princess about everything. It was hard to read in the beginning because it described the crimes. It made me sick to read but like a car wreck I couldn't resist craning my head toward the pages of the book. I have to say it was well written and researched.
M. Staven
Aug 05, 2015 M. Staven rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A true master of research about 2 very disturbed criminals.
Kristen Schrader (Wenke)
Jul 30, 2013 Kristen Schrader (Wenke) rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This detailed nonfiction account of the Hillside Strangler murders alternates between the detective determined to find the killers, and the killers themselves.

Disturbing and grotesque, this book haunted me long after putting it down.

A little slow at times, but pretty good nonetheless.
Wholly disturbing. Period. I don't feel like this account really delves into the murderers minds to give you any kind of perspective regarding why they did this. But, this book does give a graphic account of each of the murders and does a fair job of describing the trial and outcome .
Aug 18, 2012 Vicki rated it really liked it
I LOVED this book. I couldn't read it at night, but that's just me. I couldn't put it down and couldn't wait to get back to it. Amazing the details Darcy put in his writing of this and all of his books. I haven't read one of his books I didn't like.
3Ralph Lemar
Mar 25, 2009 3Ralph Lemar rated it it was amazing
In my life time I watched a lot of crime shows and serial killers and a I must say in all my years I like stories about serial killers From David Berkowitz to Charles Manson The Green River Killer The Zodiac Killer Iceman Richard Kluklinski
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Darcy O'Brien was born in Los Angeles, the son of Hollywood silent film actor George O’Brien and actress Marguerite Churchill.

O'Brien attended Princeton University and University of Cambridge, and received a master's degree and doctorate from the University of California, Berkely. From 1965 to 1978 he was a professor of English at Pomona College. In 1978 he moved to Tulsa, and taught at the Unives
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“He then, again by way of reference to legal precedent and authority, reminded the District Attorney’s Office that it was charged with grave responsibilities which demanded integrity, zeal, and conscientious effort in the gathering and presentation of evidence. He quoted the American Bar Association’s standards for prosecutors: “In making the decision to prosecute, the prosecutor should give no weight to the personal or political advantages or disadvantages which might be involved or to a desire to enhance his or her record of convictions.” 0 likes
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