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I: The Creation of a Serial Killer

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  2,207 ratings  ·  137 reviews
Prize-winning journalist Jack Olsen, armed with unprecedented access to one of the most infamous serial killers in American history, provides a fascinating glimpse into the mind of a murderer in the killer's own words . . .

In February 1990, Oregon State Police arrested John Sosnovke and Laverne Pavlinac for the vicious rape and murder of Taunja Bennet, a troubled 23-year-o
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published August 20th 2002 by St. Martin's Press
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Average rating 3.91  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,207 ratings  ·  137 reviews

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Jan 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: unfinished
You may wonder why I would give five stars to a book I didn't finish--nor am likely to finish any time soon.

Jack Olsen, who died in 2002 at the age of 77, was much more than a crime writer. He was a gifted and insightful psychological analyst who might have been a neuroscientist in another life. His interest in violent crime focused not so much on the victims of murder but on the "victims" who committed murder. A quotation cited in his obituary in the Seattle PI sums up his approach:
"I start eve
BAM Endlessly Booked
Aug 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
True Crime Commemoration # 31
Setting: 1990s the Pacific Coast
I read The Happy Face killer's daughters book, so I figured I would read one on him. Twisted mother fucker!! ...more
Jul 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: true-crime
Surprisingly, I found this book to be very interesting. I am aware that most people will find it appalling to read a serial killers book in regards to his crimes, however I think reading what Keith had to say can be of help to law enforcement in understanding the mind set that some killers have when they take another human life, as well as possibly reading the signs of what events can create a serial killer from early childhood if that is even possible.

From early on in Keith's childhood it was
Laura Peden
Wow 😳 this was disturbing. Jack Olsen is King of true crime.
Mar 07, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, kindle
This was an interesting true crime book for two reasons - firstly, a lot of it is told in the killer's own words, and secondly, because I'd never heard of Keith Hunter Jesperson before. Jack Olsen melds his own storytelling of Jesperson's life growing up both in Canada and the US, alongside Jesperson's own words of his horrific murder spree while working as a long haul truck driver.

If you're looking for a lot of gore then you're not going to get it in here. The murders are, I hate to say it, qu
Oct 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Another well written book by Jack Olsen, although difficult at times to read. I read a lot of true crime and Keith Jesperson is probably the coldest s.o.b. I've read about...granted I'm an animal lover and his brutality towards animals truly appalled me. But after reading about one murder, I doubt I can look at another tractor trailer on the highway in the same way. Good book! It's a shame Jesperson escaped the death penalty. ...more
Katherine Addison
TBH, I don't think the conceit of this book works terribly well. Keith Hunter Jesperson is such a prolific autobiographer that Olsen was able to assemble what looks like a fairly complete first-person account of his eight murders, which he interleaves with a more standard biographical account of Jesperson's life. I'm rarely a fan of intercutting timelines, and this book feels like soft-poached eggs in a string bag: a mess that fails to be contained by its arbitrary structure. (Whereas a book sho ...more
Paulie Dude
Sep 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: True Crime fans
This is definitely one of the better true crime books out there. The murders themselves are perhaps not so noteworthy as far as serial killers go. They are not complex torture scenarios with knives and acids. They are the simple games played by a man fascinated by the pain inflicted through murder, and Olsen's writing captures the gritty struggle of ending a life.

Perhaps most important to note about this book is contained in the title. All of the murdering and generally sick behaviour is written
Jul 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: true-crime
This is an anomaly of a true-crime book. It is partially written in the first person POV of the killer himself, Keith Jesperson, sometimes known as the Happy Face killer. Keith was a long haul truck driver who may have psychopathic tendencies. He was raised in an abusive home environment and killed numerous small animals. When he began truck driving, he also began killing women. He is known to have killed eight women though states that he has killed up to 185 women.

I actually really liked this
Sep 18, 2014 rated it it was ok
A book written largely using the words of a serial killer is an interesting concept and one that I thought would help to provide fresh insight into an overcrowded true crime/serial-killer-profiling genre. But here's the thing: I don't think he's an interesting or insightful subject. He's a lying sadist who provides chapters of unchallenged borderline torture porn. Balancing the chapters from the POV of the killer with that of police or journalists who investigated the crimes might have helped to ...more
Aug 17, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: True crime fans with very strong stomachs
I read true crime all the time, but this book was a little much for me. It actually made me feel physically ill at times, but I couldn't put it down.

As far as I know, this is one of the only books, if not the only book, of its kind. It's a first-person, as-told-to account of what it's like to be a serial killer. The writing is good, and the author tells the story pretty much in the voice of the killer.

What disappointed me about the book was that, even after wading through all the gruesome detai
Jan 19, 2014 rated it did not like it
I have read other books by Jack Olsen and normally he is a good writer but this book is by far his worst. I have read many true crime books and this is one of the worst researched and written.

Olsen wasted his time and writing ability with writing this book. I have read other books by Jack Olsen about serial killers, and sociopaths/psychopaths that were well written. This is not one of them.

In this book he allowed both Jesperson and his father way too much leeway considering they are both psychop
Apr 23, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-books
This book was VERY graphic and detailed. I got interested in it because I read "Shattered silence: the untold story of a serial killer's daughter" a month ago. That was written by the daughter of Keith Jesperson, the Happy Face Killer, that this book is about. This book is unique in that it is broken down by sections. Every other section is voiced by the author giving a timeline story of the seriel killer's life, while the sections in between is voiced in Jesperson's own words. He details each o ...more
J.H. Moncrieff
Aug 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Jack Olsen was one of the best true crime writers in history. Too bad he wrote so few books, but that might be why they're all so good.

This one is different because it's mostly told in the serial killer's own words. Olsen is a master at keeping the tension high from beginning to end--there are no long, drawn out trial sequences, and no detailed biographies of lawyers and cops. He's pitch perfect.

Since this is in Keith Jespersen's words, it's highly disturbing. His descriptions of his crimes and
Merrilee Buroker
Jan 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Really interesting read about the so-called smiley face killer, Keith Jesperson. Cripes, why are so many serial killers from the Northwest? Jesperson's story is even creepier given the locations are familiar. It's not big crime in a distant Big City, it happened in rural truck stops and byways. I didn't really get why the author titled the book "I", but by the end of the narrative you understand that Jesperson is a narcissistic sociopath, an expert liar and manipulator. His description of "the d ...more
May 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I couldn't believe that I read this whole book in 2 days. It was a scary though disturbing look into a killers' mindset that was so fascinating I couldn't stop reading. ...more
Aug 08, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: put-aside
Usually like Olsen but not this book
Sep 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crimen
This is so much better in "first person," such a treat.
Now I know why the book is called "I": almost every paragraph begins with "I."
Apr 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Read this in 3 days. Couldn't put it down, such detail and an amazing writer executed it perfectly. Gruesome crime and very vivid, but I enjoyed the book thoroughly. ...more
Dec 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Fascinating serial killer. Very interesting to read about his crimes especially with his own retelling of his crimes
Listened to in audio format.

I have long been a fan of the late Jack Olsen`s books. I have listened to a number of his books including Doc, Cold Kill and Charmer.

I: The Creation of a serial Killer is based on the interviews and diaries of lorry driver Keith Hunter Jespherson. Jesepheron was married with two children. One day he met Taunja Bennett a single mum with learning difficulties in a bar. At the time Taunja was with a man and a woman. Later Jespherson returned to the bar to find Taunja alo
Denise Mullins
Sep 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is the third true crime account by Olsen which I have read, so a certain level of formulaic prose was anticipated. However, this was in unfounded concern; the book proved alarmingly captivating in its mostly first person point of view, and kept me turning pages till the end. This is a powerful yet very disturbing read!
Long distance trucker, Keith Hunter Jesperson conversationally relates how he developed from an academic underachiever into a sadistic torturer of animals and ultimately a mu
Alexander Fitzgerald
Nov 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
For what it is, it's good. That said, it's extremely sickening.

This book left me nauseated constantly. It left me feeling dirty.

Jack Olsen interviewed a serial killer and wrote his autobiography. It is horrifying.

I would not recommend this book to anyone who is somewhat sensitive. It will mess with your head. Getting this close to a killer's mind is not good for anyone's mental health.

For what it is, however, it is extremely well done. Jack Olsen has an eye towards craftsmanship. He allows the
Dec 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Jack Olsen is perfection when it comes to a true crime author. I agree with my beloved Kevin Pierce when I say that this particular story, this particular piece, is his masterpiece. I don't know how you get more f*cked up than Keith Jesperson. ...more
TC Lauren
♥ Marlene♥
Feb 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just finished re reading this book. I gave it 5 stars many years ago. This time with much more true crime reads under my belt I have to be honest even though this is my beloved Jack Olsen´s book that there is one big annoyance that occurs in the book.

What Jack Olsen did was give this narcissistic cowardly ugly psychopath a voice. A lot of chapters involved have this creep tell the story. That is not even a problem but the problem is . ...............

The author just accepts the lies this mf tells
Ryan Hannay
Aug 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating and horrifying, this reads like Bukowski if he abused women instead of booze. The first person narrative is simple and blunt, but provides some profound insights into the mind of a sociopath. Frighteningly honest for the most part, except where he lays blame (on his father, on whores, etc.) It seems to me Keith Jesperson was not going to turn out well no matter the situation, and without some intervention early on he was going to end up a pervert or worse. But the choices he made, an ...more
Declan McHugh
Feb 02, 2018 rated it liked it
There is a big problem with this book, and that is that it probably greatly massaged the ego of Keith Jesperson,'The Happy-Face Killer', who collaborated with Jack Olsen on it.

Jesperson gets to alternatively brag (he clearly loves the shock factor of describing in minute detail how he punched a woman to death, and obliterated another by dragging her dead body under his truck), and whine (Dad was unpleasant and unloving).

Yes, if you give someone like Jesperson enough rope he will hang himself,
Betsy Rogers
Jan 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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If a true crime audiobook is your idea of the perfect listen, then this post is for you. True crime has been enjoying something...
45 likes · 10 comments
“Taunja Bennett kissed her mother good-bye and said she was off to meet a boyfriend. She disappeared from sight in the direction of a bus stop, her Walkman plugged into her ears. Lately the twenty-three-year-old high school dropout had been listening over and over to “Back to Life” by Soul II Soul. She carried a small black purse. Taunja was mildly retarded from oxygen deprivation at birth. She’d been a difficult child. In a cooking class at Cleveland High School, she assaulted a classmate in a quarrel over a piece of cake. Addicted to alcohol and drugs, she was committed to a state hospital for six months. At twenty-one, she frequented northeast Portland bars like the Woodshed, the Copper Penny and Thatcher’s. She hustled drinks, shot pool and got into trouble with men. She was petite and pretty—five-five, with glistening dark brown hair, liquid brown eyes, a trim figure,” 1 likes
“thought I might have to prove later that she was my kill and not somebody else’s, so I grabbed two fourteen-inch white plastic ties from the truck and cinched them around her neck for ID.” 0 likes
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