Zodiac Unmasked: The I...
Robert Graysmith
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Zodiac Unmasked: The Identity of America's Most Elusive Serial Killer Revealed

3.52 of 5 stars 3.52  ·  rating details  ·  761 ratings  ·  69 reviews
After painstaking investigation, and more than 30 years of research, Robert Graysmith finally exposes infamous Zodiac killer’s true identity. With overwhelming evidence he reveals the twisted private life that led to the crimes, and provides startling theories as to why they stopped. America’s greatest unsolved mystery has finally been solved. Includes photos and a complet...more
Published by Turtleback Books (first published April 2nd 2002)
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Thank whatever gods may be that this is finally over. The weeks I spent slugging through this I couldn't stop thinking that I could be reading something else! To begin with, let's give the devil his due...Robert Graysmith knows a LOT about the Zodiac killer. Probably more than anyone. He has poured years of his life into interviews with witnesses and investigators: in effect, conducting his own investigation. This was probably a good thing, because the police agencies seemed to be totally inept...more
♥ Marlene♥
This is Robert Graysmith's second book about The Zodiac killer.

Author Robert Graysmith was on the staff of the San francisco Chronicle when the hooded killer's first letter arived.After 8 years of research Graymsith revealed 100 of facts never before released.. and his own theory of the Zodiac's true identity but they did not caught him.

Now 19 years after Zodiac was published it seems they have finally caught him.
Zodiac Unmasked!!
(I have just read Zodiac and can't wait to read this one.

So after I read Popular Crime by Bill James (a very good book), I decided to buy a few more crime books. However, after reading Zodiac Unmasked I think I've had my fill of crime for a while.

The Zodiac case is the only serial killer case I've ever really spent much time reading or thinking about. I guess I'm drawn to it because it's not particularly morbid or gory, it's more about the investigation than the killings, and because the Zodiac has never been caught, there's always that interest in di...more
Hard to get into at first.

Graysmith jumps back and forth in the chronology of this decades-long murder case. The number of players involved (suspects, police, witnesses, Zodiac's victims and possibile victims, journalists, relatives and friends of all of the above) also made this book hard to follow at first.

Maybe Graysmith assumes the reader has read his earlier book on this subject — I hadn't. But, Graysmith is an excellent descriptive writer and his obsession with the case becomes as intere...more
This is a good book for detailed descriptions of the crimes and the police procedure. However, the case for the suspect is circumstantial. What the book details is the systematic hounding by the author of his number one suspect, leading to serious invasions of his private life plus quite intrusive action taken by the police, using Graysmith's thesis as justification. The main suspect was hounded to his grave and cleared recently when his DNA did not match DNA know to belong to The Zodiac. Two st...more
It is hard for me to review this book because it is very long (like 450 pages) and almost entirely redundant of the first zodiac book. it has like 10 pages of new information spliced throughout & a bunch of painstaking minutiae in between. Had I not read the first Zodiac book, perhaps I would've liked this one. The only reason I did read it-- the first book did not conclusively "unmask" the killer -- so i had to read on and find out. right? wrong! just skip to the last page and save yourself...more
Devin McKinney
I'm a big fan of Graysmith's first Zodiac book, and of David Fincher's film; I read this sequel in a spirit of sympathy. But in addition to being poorly written, indifferently organized, and sloppily proofread, Zodiac Unmasked has an ultimate effect precisely opposite of Graysmith's intention--that effect being to leave an objective reader pretty much convinced that Arthur Leigh Allen probably wasn't the Zodiac, only a pathetic child molester with a lot of unfulfilled talents who loved the idea...more
Unusual in that a) the book's thesis is likely correct, and Graysmith was the first person to put in the work to connect the dots, and yet b) the book is terribly written and contains volumes of extraneous nonsense on top of valid reporting.

Graysmith's primary problem is that he wants it both ways - he wants to establish that his primary suspect was the Zodiac, but he also wants to throw in every other titillating fact, detail or theory at his disposal in order to keep the reader turning the pa...more
The other reviews are correct... this book could have been a LOT shorter. The same information was repeated again and again. We GET it, Robert Graysmith.

Truth is, everybody wanted Arthur Leigh Allen to be the Zodiac, including Allen himself. But he probably wasn't. Sure, there were a lot of coincidences that make Allen look like a good match for the killer, but the DNA didn't match.

Ugh. Long and repetitive. Obsessive. Don't read this. Read Graysmith's other Zodiac book. That one is excellent.
Ron Felt
In contrast to the first Zodiac book by the same author, I found this to be poorly written. It was confusing and the author jumped back and forth in time so much it was hard to keep track of what was happening when. Information was repeated and hard to keep straight. I think the author got a little too close to the subject and tried too hard to give every possible detail and in the process lost track of the best way to lay it out.
Andrea Hickman Walker
This is a very interesting book. However, it's badly written, in need of serious editing, and very repetitive. Still a worthwhile read, if you have the brain power to keep everything straight (seriously, there was no need for so much jumping around the timelines), though the repetition will help with that. If it's the sort of thing that interests you, I'd certainly recommend it.
Feb 26, 2008 Beth marked it as dnf  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I am having a really hard time getting through this - the author's writing is horrible. He jumps around throughout the book, throwing in awkward and random sentences that at times don't even really have much to do with what he had been talking about.

This is going in the DNF pile for now. Maybe I'll pick up when I don't have 20 other books on my shelf to read.
Another book to tie in with Fincher's film. Fair enough, it is where a lot of the structure for the movie comes from - but it's an unsatisfying read.

Compared to his first Zodiac book, this work is pretty weak. There's a retelling - of sorts - of the Zodiac story, but with significant theories from the first work redacted. (The supposed use of the overhead projector to write the letters is nowhere to be seen in this work, for example.)

The story is told in an arse-backwards manner, which leads t...more
The evidence is pretty overwhelming, though circumstantial, but the writing style is somewhat erratic. I found it difficult to follow the author back and forth through the timeline. The fact the author changed how he referred to the primary suspect part way through the book (at first calling him Robert Starr and then switching to his real name, Arthur Leigh Allen) I also found troublesome and found it momentarily confusing. I do appreciate the evidence this book presented, though, and am convinc...more
Poorly written. Confusing, non-sequential, and repetitive. Maybe Zodiac is better.
This was a good follow-up to the first book, but I feel like it could have been a lot shorter. I'm not sure if Graysmith was trying to recreate the feeling of confusion that the detectives must have felt as they followed various leads, never knowing that their counterparts in other jurisdictions held separate pieces of the puzzle; but his habit of dropping bits of conversations into the book multiple times started to irritate me. Overall the book is well written and gripping. The author also nee...more
This book along with Graysmith's earlier book, "Zodiac" were the defining history of the Zodiac killer case of the late 60's and early 70's. Unfortunately, Graysmith's theories and observations were later proved false and misguided via DNA, fingerprints and other important physical evidence. However, the author continues to lead the investigation astray and has even devised a remarkably stupid theory to circumvent the lack of a DNA match by stating perhaps someone other than the Zodiac licked th...more
Spoiler Alert: They never catch him. This ladies and gentleman, is how your circumstantial case sausage is made. While Graysmith does an amazing job establishing a timeline and cross referencing a ton of different information, at time this book reads like a manifesto. His myopic focus on one suspect leads to parts of this book reading like I am looking at a wall that a schizophrenic would thumb tack up, complete with yarn strings and newspaper clippings. 550 pages and at the end of the day, rega...more
A continuation to Robert Graysmith's first novel Zodiac, it dwells into a suspect from the first book that fits all the marks of the Zodiac. The suspect was Arthur Leigh Allen. He was seen at the scene of some of the crimes and was even in the are when most of them took place. Everything pointed to him, except the couldn't trace the handwriting of the letters to him as Zodiac. He died in 2000, leaving the case unsolved, but many in fact believed it was him. A very chilling read and in-depth on t...more
This was a pretty interesting read because of the subject matter but Graysmith isn't much of a prose stylist. Many passages in this book are needlessly confusing because of his lack of clarity, and the bookwide organizational strategy is perplexing and kills the flow of the tale. Nonetheless, it's still worth reading because of the depth of information on Zodiac -- though many other Zodiac sleuths question Graysmith's accuracy on some points. It's worth supplementing the book with some online re...more
OK, so the movie "Zodiac" just came out last month & as I don't like to see scary movies I decided to read the book instead =) Graysmith does a pretty good job of laying out the facts of the case and putting together details that the police overlooked in their decades-long search for the Zodiac killer. The reading can get a bit dry and confusing sometimes, but overall it was an interesting read & presents a pretty strong case for the true identity of the Zodiac killer who terrorized the...more
Very detailed N orderly; I like how he goes back in time sometimes to cover some overlooked points or minor but critical evidences to get on the suspect's case. Lots of effort put in to make it not so report-ish by injecting some narrative clauses. But it took me quite a while to finish it as I have to re-read certain parts, especially parts with lots of new names thrown in. Some repetitive information but useful in reminding and reinforcing their significance in this case. Overall a good crime...more
Michael Morris
As many readers have commented, the organization of the book is challenging. All the same it only takes twenty or so pages to adapt to the fast-forward/full-reverse narrative style. It's a fascinating read and I found the (obsessive) details provided fascinating insights into the psyche of Arthur Leigh Allen, who was undoubtedly the Zodiac killer.

So much about the case remains a mystery and will remain so. But that's part of the fascination of this obsessive book.
That certainly cleared things up. The reader has a very good idea of just how obsessed Robert Graysmith and others became with this case once she realizes just how frequently the author repeats evidence, conversations, and speculations, sometimes reiterating entire pages of earlier writing word for word. A fascinating portrait of psychopathology from the point of view of those trying to understand, stop, and expose a killer.
As I have been oddly interested in serial killers in the past, this book was a magnet for me. This book is a well detailed and factual account on the search and reveal of the Zodiac killer. Although the book does become somewhat repetitive towards the end, it was not so much to discourage me from reading. In fact, I couldn't stop. So much information that the movie, which was pretty good, could not do the book justice.
Sep 16, 2007 Anastacia rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: crime story buffs
Shelves: crime
This was fantastic - well researched, well presented. It is probably the most well written true crime stories I've ever read. Very chilling.

It's subtly suspenseful, so if you need action the entire way through, you'll be disappointed. This is written like a good horror movie - everything is slow and sort of sneaks up on you.

Good weekend or commute reading.
I thought I would like this one which I read a couple of years ago after seeing hottie Jake Gyllenhaal in the role of the author in the similarly titled movie, but overall, this book was WAY too long. However, I think he got the killer's identity right. This killer was really not that interesting in his activities; his elusiveness was the real fascination.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Megan Hess
Jan 29, 2011 Megan Hess rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in the Zodiac Case
3 1/2 Stars
This a good book to read if you are interested in the Zodiac, but it can be repetitive at times (especially if you've read Graysmith's other book "Zodiac") and it's very lengthy. It does offer new information on the case though and you get a better picture of why Graysmith thinks Allen is the Zodiac.
Nov 08, 2008 Peggy rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: probably would not recommend
Recommended to Peggy by: saw the movie; wanted to read more
I love true crime but perhaps Ann Rule's excellent writing in this genre has spoiled me. Graysmith's book should be fascinating, but the chronology he uses seems entirely random. Suspects come and go; investigators come and go as well. I think that a reader unfamiliar with the Zodiac case would be completely lost.
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Robert Graysmith was born in Pensacola, Florida as Robert Gray Smith. He changed his name to Graysmith in 1976.

Graysmith is a true-crime author of the books Zodiac; Zodiac Unmasked: The Identity of America's Most Elusive Serial Killer; Unabomber: A Desire to Kill; The Sleeping Lady: The Trailside Murders Above the Golden Gate; The Murder of Bob Crane: Who Killed the Star of Hogan's Heroes; The Bel...more
More about Robert Graysmith...
Zodiac Auto Focus The Girl in Alfred Hitchcock's Shower Black Fire: The True Story of the Original Tom Sawyer--and of the Mysterious Fires That Baptized Gold Rush-Era San Francisco The Sleeping Lady: The Trailside Murders Above the Golden Gate

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