John Wayne Gacy: Defending a Monster
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

John Wayne Gacy: Defending a Monster

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  260 ratings  ·  40 reviews
"Sam, could you do me a favor?" Thus begins a story that has now become part of America’s true crime hall of fame. It is a gory, grotesque tale befitting a Stephen King novel. It is also a David and Goliath saga—the story of a young lawyer fresh from the Public Defender’s Office whose first client in private practice turns out to be the worst serial killer in our nation’s...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published August 1st 2011 by Skyhorse Publishing
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 489)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
While this is a page turner, that has more to do with the grotesque nature of the true crime that makes Gacy fascinating than it does with the craft of writing. As a result, this reads a bit like an epistle justifying why Amirante chose to defend Gacy. Throughout the entire book, Amirante and Broderick talk of Gacy's 'homosexual tendencies' in a vernacular that is more appropriate for 1979 than today. For a self-actualized gay man in 2012, their commentary grows tiring, and often had me wonderin...more
i 1. Plot Overview (Don’t give the ending away!) What did you like about the plot? Did it move quickly or slowly? What didn’t you like? Was it interesting or not? Why? Give details!

something i liked about this book was that, they could never find out that john wayne gacy did to teenage boys. this book moved slowly. one thing i didn't like, was that it explain how he killed every single boy. the interesting part, was when the police couldn't find out that gacy was the killer.

2. Character Overview...more
An inconsistent book mostly about what it was like to be John Wayne Gacy's lawyer. I was immediately swept into the book by the opening, which recounts a fateful visit by Gacy to a pharmacy for a small contracting job. We get the fictionalized perspective of a boy who works at the pharmacy, Gacy, and others and I hoped it would continue like this, but unfortunately most of the book simply recounts the experiences of the lawyer and not necessarily even about his extensive interaction with Gacy th...more
I don't usually read true crime, although I have read In Cold Blood and Helter Skelter. However, I was in high school in the Chicago suburbs when the John Wayne Gacy story broke, and I had to read Defending a Monster.

I found the book totally engrossing, but I think that is partly due to the the timing and location of the trial when I was a teen-ager. I haven't read any other books about Gacy, so I learned a lot about the crimes, the man, and the trial.

Defending a Monster is not destined to beco...more
While reading this book, I stumbled onto something that I didn't expect. I had always thought: How can any lawyer represent a guy like Gacy? I couldn't understand it; it seemed to be ridiculous! They were protecting the monsters of our society. These monsters hurt a lot of people and they deserved to punished, isolated, and locked away for good (in some cases executed). Who cares about these madmen?

The answer: Constitutionality. Our constitution cares for everybody. That is what makes America s...more
Jan 19, 2014 Amy rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: crime
Very transphobic when he questioned Donita. Didn't like that part. For that he loses 2 stars. Very bigoted attitude and for that he loses another.
Alisi ☆ needs to stop starting new books ☆
There is a strange thing about it. While I enjoy true crime novels, I do not (as a general rule) enjoy true crime about serial killers. I've read some but for a the most part, I've stayed away. The only exceptions to this rule are female serial killers and angels of death.

That said, this book was okay. It started with Gacy's last murder of a fifteen year old book and it went on from there. It devolved a lot as it went on. I thought it was way too long and it became evident that the author was tr...more
Q. Kelly
Not Sold on the Insanity Stuff

In the book “John Wayne Gacy: Defending a Monster,” former Gacy lawyer Sam L. Amirante writes: “The basis of our defense was to save his [Gacy's] life and allow him to stay in a structured environment where he could be studied and hopefully prevent a repeat of such horrific crimes.” That is all well and good, but if the defense was conducted like the book’s trial portions, I can see why the jury found Gacy guilty of serial killings.

But first, let’s look at the book...more
This book is fascinating on many levels. On the very basic level, it is unbelievable to read the accounts of one man murdering at least 33 men/boys in a fashion contrary to most serial killers...remaining a very social, popular, and successful individual of society throughout his rampage. For me, however, the more intriguing aspect of this book was the perspective and perseverance of Gacy's defense attorney, Sam Amirante, who accepted the case fresh out of the Public Defender's Office; it being...more
Jul 02, 2012 Shana rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: True crime nuts like myself
Shelves: true-crime
This is a gripping narrative about the experience of one of the lawyers who defended infamous murderer John Wayne Gacy. I like the perspective of an insider's view of the case. Amirante also makes some statements about the rights of the accused to be represented by counsel and the reasons we have those rights in the US, which fit in well with the personal account of his experience. It was also an interesting read for me, since this happened in Chicago, not so far from where I live. It's kind of...more
Lissy Peace
For the first time, John Wayne Gacy's lawyer tells the chilling story of how he defended one of America's most horrific serial killers in the new book, "John Wayne Gacy: Defending A Monster" buy Judge Sam L. Amirante and Danny Broderick. When was the last time someone you knew asked you for a favor? What if that favor was defending a man who you later discovered to be guilty of cremes so grotesque they make your blood curdle? Can you guarantee him a fair trial without the influence of hate, reve...more
A very good simple book about a lawyer defending a man who murdered over 30 people. I found it interesting and the defense interesting to read about. Though the purpose was to acquit by insanity, it also involved trying to save Gacy's life. The idea of how shameful homosexuality was in the 70s was interesting and how Gacy's motivations seem to come from shame of his homosexual feelings and hatred of the young men he picked up for sex. Gacy's fall came from mistaking a teenager who wanted a job f...more
This book on Gacy is good not great. I felt the author spent a lot of time on the opening & closing argument. Word for boring word. And the book ends abruptly with the jury finding Gacy guilty. You never learn anything after the verdict. He also talks about the harassment his family suffered from him defending Gacy. The book is very factual, there's no bending of the truth. Mr Amirante believes that John was not wired right (his words not mine), mentally ill and a homosexual. Those who know...more
Charlotte M
Amirante 1) tells everyone his client is "the personification of evil," 2) totally skips any discussion of why later lawyers called him ineffective, and 3) ends by saying he wasn't really sad at the time of Gacy's execution, and "never really like him" anyway. Interesting facts about the case, but not sure what the point of writing this was.
Walter Herrick
I liked this book, because the author shares his reasons for keeping an open mind about Gacy's state of mind... not about his guilt and actions, but about why Gacy did the things that he did. Unfortunately Mr. Amirante goes a little too far in trying to persuade the listener to come over to his side. However, even with that persuasion it is still a worthwhile book. Even though the author doesn't go into prurient details about Gacy's crimes...Gacy is a sexual serial murderer and so this is a rate...more
This books is written by John Wayne Gacy's lawyer and what is interesting is that this was this was his very first case. The best part of this book was the closing arguments were included virtually word for word. The arguments ultimately came down now to whether or not he was guilty but rather whether or not he knew what he was doing was wrong. Also, the crime scene photos were very interesting (and so graphic that there is a warning on the cover of the book). Sadly, the author makes up a lot of...more
Very good book. Incredibly interesting to see the story and the case from the point of view of the defense lawyer. Gacy confessed to every single one of his 33 gruesome murders even before the trial began and everyone knew he was nuts. The objective of the defense was to persuade everyone that he was legally insane at the time of the murders. In the end, he was determined to be legally responsible for his actions (and very rightfully so, in my opinion). Nonetheless, it was very interesting to he...more
This book was particularly interesting to me because of my town as well as my age. Gacy's home was less than 5 miles from my home. Much has been written about Gacy, and there was even a movie with Brian Dennehy. However, this book is written from a different viewpoint - his attorney. The local references (I even caught a few editorial errors) made this story come alive to me. I felt the author/attorney's pain, even through my disgust for Gacy. Not sure I would recommend this book to anyone who l...more
I was totally engrossed in this book. Gacy's been dead for quite a while, and this book, written by his lawyer, exposes the other side of Gacy, I guess. I don't believe for a minute that he was insane, or that he had another personality, sorry. Gacy was an evil little man, who rebelled against his homosexuality by killing innocent young boys. He's one of the vilest human beings on earth, ever. I'm glad he's been executed. Hope he's burning in hell with Hitler, Ted Bundy, and all the other sickos...more
Jean Godwin Carroll
I found the story of John Wayne Gacy fascinating, since I haven't yet read his story in a book-length format. While this book was interesting, I would recommend reading a different account first, in order to learn more about Gacy as a person and murderer. This story is written from the perspective of Gacy's defense attorney, and the story too often ends up being about him, rather than the monster he defended. This book could have benefitted from additional editing, since he often uses conversati...more
Unbelievable to be behind the scenes and in the mind of an attorney who dedicates his life to a guilty man to have a fair trial. It's not about finding him not guilty it's making sure that a citizen is brought through the legal system the right way. Highly recommend this to anyone who asks themselves how attorneys can represent the evilest of people. It's what you sign yourself up for when becoming an attorney. You see a true lawyer and how they work through Sam and there are not a lot like him....more
Valerie  Shampine
Sep 25, 2012 Valerie Shampine rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: True crime readers
Shelves: true-crime, memoir
Having read most of the books written about Gacy, I found this an interesting read from the defense attorney's point of view. Strangely enough, there was an article in the news about the case just a couple of days after I finished it, regarding one of the suspected young men in the ongoing effort to identify the remaining 7 bodies that haven't been ID'd yet by one means or another. This young man's remains were actually found out west, and he was ruled out as a victim of Gacy's after nearly 30 y...more
Lissy Peace
This is a heart pounding, non-stop read. If you enjoy true crime, this is the crime that made history. The book was so well written by Danny Broderick. You can skip over the gory pictures but it was also one of those historical moments everyone remembers. I applaud Judge Sam Amirante for his will and courage to defend our constitution and protect our rights. His efforts in representing this man and what has occurred afterwards with new legislation has saved many lives over the years.
Kelly Sheridan
If you enjoyed this book, there is a movie called Dear Mr. Gacy you should check out.
Josh Schecter
I greatly enjoyed this book. A part of this book details John Wayne Gacy, both his murders and his daily, "normal" life. The other takes place in court, and follows the trials of Gacy's lawyers and the legal battles between the state and the author, Sam Amirante. By the end, I felt sympathy for both the victims of the serial killer, and Gacy himself; it paints a different perspective on the case than average. Definitely a good read, very engaging.
This is a really good behind the scenes look at what it takes to defend someone accused of horrifying crimes. I don't know how much a non-lawyer would enjoy this book because it does get a little technical at times, but I really liked it. It reinforces my belief that, no matter what crime a person is accused of, they are entitled to the best defense in court.
Sarah Sharp
I would say this book is average overall. I find it interesting to learn about such a strange man and his lawyers point of view. That being said if you are not a law buff or whatever you want to call it, the last 50-75 pgs will get TEDIOUS very fast. If you are a law fan you will probably enjoy this entire book quite a bit.
So intense and so good. I am not usually one to read books like this, but this was on some "books gays should read list" - The Advocate I think. At any rate, this was so good. The author certainly has a way with words. I recommend this to anyone that likes true crime books.
David Mendoza
The plot of this book was good because the scene was in various places. Like for example outside and inside a pharmacy. So far i think the book is interesting and its going to get better and better.

My favorite caracter is John Wayne Gacy because
The author is a very colorful guy with very definite opinions! This book is quite different from the usual "true crime" -- as it's told from the lawyer's perspective instead of the criminal's or victim's point of view.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 16 17 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Buried Dreams: Inside the Mind of a Serial Killer
  • Killer Clown: The John Wayne Gacy Murders
  • Sleep In Heavenly Peace
  • Depraved: The Definitive True Story of H.H. Holmes, Whose Grotesque Crimes Shattered Turn-Of-The-Century Chicago
  • Ted Bundy: Conversations with a Killer
  • I: The Creation of a Serial Killer
  • Bind, Torture, Kill: The Inside Story of the Serial Killer Next Door
  • The Shrine of Jeffrey Dahmer
  • Crime Classification Manual: A Standard System for Investigating and Classifying Violent Crimes
  • My Life Among the Serial Killers: Inside the Minds of the World's Most Notorious Murderers
  • The Case Of Mary Bell
  • Ted and Ann: The Mystery of a Missing Child and Her Neighbor Ted Bundy
  • Black Dahlia Avenger: A Genius for Murder
  • The Jeffrey Dahmer Story: An American Nightmare
  • Double Cross: The Explosive, Inside Story of the Mobster Who Controlled America
  • Bringing Adam Home: The Abduction That Changed America
  • Are You There Alone?: The Unspeakable Crime of Andrea Yates
  • Capone: The Life and World of Al Capone

Share This Book