Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Serial Killer Whisperer: How One Man's Tragedy Helped Unlock the Deadliest Secrets of the World's Most Terrifying Killers” as Want to Read:
The Serial Killer Whisperer: How One Man's Tragedy Helped Unlock the Deadliest Secrets of the World's Most Terrifying Killers
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Serial Killer Whisperer: How One Man's Tragedy Helped Unlock the Deadliest Secrets of the World's Most Terrifying Killers

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  1,379 ratings  ·  230 reviews
From New York Times bestselling author Pete Earley—the strange but true story of a man who suffers a traumatic brain injury and as a result is given the ability to converse with the world’s most terrifying criminals.

After suffering a horrific head injury, fifteen-year-old Tony Ciaglia discovered he could no longer control his emotions or social responses and found himself
Hardcover, 317 pages
Published January 10th 2012 by Gallery Books (first published January 5th 2012)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
Steve Jobs by Walter IsaacsonUnbroken by Laura HillenbrandEinstein by Walter IsaacsonInto the Wild by Jon KrakauerJohn Adams by David McCullough
Best Biographies
1,028 books — 2,328 voters
The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas  HarrisDarkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff LindsayRed Dragon by Thomas  HarrisAmerican Psycho by Bret Easton EllisThe Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
I Like Serial Killers
805 books — 1,403 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.73  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,379 ratings  ·  230 reviews

Sort order
Mar 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Hello Everyone.
My name is Tony Ciaglia, and I am a traumatic brain injury survivor. I am also the subject of this book, The Serial Killer Whisperer. I love to go online and read the mixed reviews of this book. I do understand that because of the controversial subject matter, this book is not for everyone. Some have questioned the sanity of my parents and brother as to how they could let me engage in such a hobby talking with such heinous people. I can assure you all that I have the most loving f
☘Misericordia☘ ~ The Serendipity Aegis ~  ⚡ϟ⚡ϟ⚡⛈ ✺❂❤❣
Basically, this book is of 2 parts.

- An incredible account of how a family and, in particular, a boy overcame an unsurmountable situation. And even managed to build something remarkable in the process.
- An account of pen-palling with serial killers. Well, this is one kind of fascination. Let's hope it works for everyone involved.

Endearing: This boy's ability to go over his newfound limitations and his family doing all of that to get him to live his life to the full.
Creepy: the serial killer par
Serial Killer Whisperer seems a must for fans of true crime. That’s me even though I haven’t read many in the past few years. This may be due to the subject matter or it’s possible I haven’t found a case that interested me.

My plan while reading Serial Killer Whisperer was not to review the book on GR. I was reluctant to share that I actually read this going so far as to suggest it to a GR friend through a message who I knew would want to read it rather than sharing my thoughts by posting any co
Jul 13, 2015 rated it it was ok
This is a hodge-podge of oddness.

I'll be the first to admit that I am somewhat fascinated by true crime books, mostly to the extent that they explore the darker side of human nature. The blurb on the back of this book also reminded me of a character from Hannibal the TV series, Will Graham, a sort of savant who has an uncanny ability to empathize, allowing him to feel and think like the killers he is attempting to profile.

Needless to say, the main character in this book (Tony) is no Will Graham
Jun 11, 2017 rated it liked it
3.5 ⭐
Very interesting to say the least.
Laura Cowan
Apr 26, 2012 rated it really liked it

It's a good story, I enjoyed reading it, it's fairly well written (though quite disorganized) and I have a couple of complaints. First is with the title/subtitle. It's incredibly misleading. SPOILER: Tony doesn't get any secrets from any serial killers until the epilogue. The EPILOGUE!!! Sure he talks to them often by mail and phone but is he told secrets? No. It's more like he's cannon fodder the way they detail their kills to him, but hey, no one should expect stories about rainbows from these
Apr 18, 2012 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: no one
Shelves: 2012
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 12, 2013 rated it liked it
As a person with a fair interest in serial killers, I was intrigued by this book, written about Tony Ciaglia, who suffered a severe head trauma as a teenager. His communication skills were very strongly impaired and he was unable to control his anger at all.

In his thirties, Tony saw the commonly quoted fact that most serial killers that have been caught and profiled suffered head injuries as children, although not as serious as the one he had. Tony began corresponding with many serial killers i
Kimberly Jackson
Jul 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Pete has wrote a fantastic book that I really enjoyed. The Serial Killer Whisperer is a book that will have you thinking twice about how you treat others around you. Tony was a young man who was in a bad accident that left him with a major brain injury. To his surprise writing to Serial Killers made him believe in himself once again. What he does is amazing but the end was even better. I would recommend this book to anyone!!
Cecily Kyle
Aug 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is every reason why I love reading about serial killers. To try to get into their minds and understand what makes them tick. Would be lying if I didn't say I was a little jealous of Tony and his correspondence. However, I don't think I would ultimately be able to handle it and be able to sleep at night.
Really interesting story and really messed up!
Great Read
Andrea Hickman Walker
Interesting, but rather disappointing in that his quest to find remains and evidence of other victims seems not to have had any positive results.
Jenni DaVinCat
Jun 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't even know where to go with this review. This book was morbidly fascinating. If ever you were looking to see what a serial killer thinks about himself when he/she is not being interviewed by the cops or the media, then this is the book to go to. This gives you a full look into the minds of some relatively well known names, and what motivated them to do what they did. How it made them feel, how things progressed, how they all essentially blame women in some way, shape or form.

It's fucked u
Ishmael Seaward
Mar 04, 2012 rated it did not like it
Interesting but disappointing in many ways. I was hoping for some more insight along the lines of "The Science of Evil", but not so far. I'm about 2/3's of the way through the book.

A young man (Tony) has a horrific accident, suffering traumatic brain injury (TBI). The damage manifests itself as periodic fits of uncontrollable rage, defensiveness, memory issues, and social miscues, all of which alienate him from his former friends and society at large. His parents and brother stick by him, and wi
Nicola Mansfield
Apr 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
Reason for Reading: Various reasons really. First of all I have an interest in serial killers. Secondly, I was intrigued by Tony Ciaglia's brain injury and what led him to write to serial killers and finally I enjoy books that contains letters.

This book is not for the squeamish. It contains brutal letters from serial killers describing their crimes in graphic detail. Without having read the book, one will first wonder what purpose this serves. Is it gratuitous and voyeuristic or does it serve so
Mar 19, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
This was, by far, the most graphic and explicit book about serial killers I have ever read. And I have read many. At the beginning of the book the author quotes author Jack Olsen: "I start every book with the idea that I want to explain how this seven or eight pounds of protoplasm went from his mommy's arms to become a serial rapist or serial killer. I think a crime book that doesn't do this is pure pornography." It is, in many ways, a warming: shit's about to get real. But honestly, I'm not sur ...more
Aug 22, 2012 rated it did not like it
I am sorry I read this awful book. It contains a plethora of morally bankrupt narrative composed by some of the most monstrous killers on death row. Unlike others, I did not consider it pornographic, so much as boring. These are empty people who think and act in horrible ways. They do not need an audience for their rants and their reliving of their vicious deeds. I was not particularly shocked as others have been because this book contains no more shocking material than the average Ann Rule book ...more
Aug 29, 2012 rated it liked it
☠☠☠☠☠☠☠☠☠☠☠☠☠☠☠☠ POSSIBLE SPOILERS ☠☠☠☠☠☠☠☠☠☠☠☠☠☠☠☠☠☠☠

I'd already written this review until my browser crapped out. GRRRRR. Anyway, to sum it up: Good story, good composition, basic writing, dumb title. I'd seen a movie called "Dear Mr. Gacy" this Spring. It's a true story about a young guy who wrote to some serial killers: Dahmer, Manson, Ramirez, and Gacy. And he didn't just write to them he got involved with them. The people here who have issue with Tony's parents and their involvement would
Feb 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book was suggested to me by a random woman at the library. I normally do not read this type of book however it was good. It is about a boy who is involved in an accident that leaves him with brain damage. It is about that whole process of him ( and his family ) going thourgh the issues that come with his type of damage. One of the things that happen is that the kids at school alienated the once popular child. It is hard for him and with the type of brain injury already suffers from extreme ...more
Katherine Addison

So apparently I am fussy as all get out about audiobook readers. This one drove me crazy by having a Serial Killer Voice, so that all the serial killers, and there are several in this book, sounded like Henchman #2 in a '50s gangster movie. Also, the way he said "traumatic brain injury"--every time but once--like it was the first time he'd ever said it and it needed extra emphasis because it was so exotic ...

Like I said. Fussy.

The book itself suffers from not quite knowing wh
Aug 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: True Crime Readers
Shelves: listened-to
WOW… if you like true crime books, this one is a MUST!!!

This book is well written by Pete Earley and the Audio book was narrated by Alan Sklar, one of the best narrators around.

BUT BE WARNED - this is not just a true crime book and IT IS NOT for the squeamish. This Book is not what you would first expect, as it is so much more. As a reader you are drawn into the minds of these monsters, murderers and rapist like no other book has. This book is filled with actual brutal letters from serial killer
Aug 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I highly recommend this book to people who take a interest to serial killers and cold cases. The author did a fabulous job gathering factual information and quotes from actual interviews to include in his book. Definitely a fantastic book!
Dec 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book - not only as a criminology student, and lover of true crime. Also having an honours degree in psychology, I found the aftermath of the brain injury a fascinating journey. Lack of emotion control, changes in behaviour patterns, and so on are common in certain forms of brain injuries. They're also known to be displayed in the profiles of serial killers. Sharing these aspects, it was easy for Tony to be able to empathize with many serial killers now in the prison system. ...more
Feb 15, 2012 rated it did not like it
This is the story (or one aspect of the story) of Anthony Ciaglia, a dynamic young man who against all odds courageously fights to reclaim his mind, body and spirit following a traumatic brain injury at the age of fifteen. After years in rehab, frustrated with an altered personality, impaired judgement, boughts with rage, boredom, depression and shunning by his friends, Tony struggles to find meaning for his new life. With the support of his family and doctors, he pursues a hobby: writing to con ...more
Apr 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crimen
Wow! Great book! Such an interesting approach. True, inspiring success story. Wonderful example of: “When life gives you lemons . . . make lemonade.” Contemporary, well-written and not padded—gets right to the point. Good pictures, good title, good cover, a real page-turner. Emotional tearjerker, at times. Hugs for you, Tony.

I was not scandalized by the material because I have also interacted closely with inmates, worked in hospitals and attended autopsies, etc.; (Criminal Justice degrees).
Kathleen Garber
Apr 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
I picked this up at the library because I love true crime and it sounded interesting. It was worth the read. However…

WARNING: This book includes GRAPHIC descriptions of murder, rape, incest and cannibalism. It is not a read for the faint of heart or those who might be triggered by these descriptions.

I had a look of disgust on my face throughout parts of the book and some of it was hard to read but the insights from serial killers was worth the discomfort. Hearing how they pick their victims was
Ryan Young
Jun 13, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: cj-read
Pointless. I have so many bad things to say about this but i'll keep it to this: there was no reason to publish all the disgusting crap that the serial killers wrote. there was no analysis, no reason. most of the 'confessions' were clearly embellished. this was gore-porn without anything redeeming. again there are more problems but i'll leave them out.
Dec 06, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
3.5 out of 5 stars. I found this very interesting but the second half of the book just contains so many disturbing and triggering details of very graphic crimes that I could not say I enjoyed this book. I have a strong stomach and enjoy reading true crime but this was very upsetting. If you can handle this, it’s a great true crime read!
Christina Vo
Dec 04, 2013 rated it liked it

Pete Earley's The Serial Killer Whisperer tells the story of Tony Ciaglia, a boy with a head injury who gains an obsession with contacting America's most infamous serial killers. The book follows the life of the Ciaglia family throughout Texas to Nevada, where they simultaneously deal with Tony's brain injury and his dark world of serial killers. Tony's head injury causes him to be obsessive and easily angered, greatly burdening the Ciaglia family, who have to constantly force him to take his me

Nikki Arias
Aug 25, 2018 rated it it was ok
The book was all over the place. I basically skipped everything other than the letters for the serial killers.
Dec 19, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book opens with a quotation from Jack Olsen, another true crime author: "I start every book with the idea that I want to explain how this seven or eight pounds of protoplasm went from his mommy's arms to become a serial rapist or serial killer. I think a crime book that doesn't do this is pure pornography." Then this book proceeds to prove itself to be, effectively and in most instances, pure pornography.

The backstory to the book is fascinating--a man with a significant brain injury contact
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Criminal Minds: Sociopaths, Serial Killers, and Other Deviants
  • The Annals of Unsolved Crime
  • The Devil's Dozen: How Cutting-Edge Forensics Took Down 12 Notorious Serial Killers
  • Killer Fiction: The Sordid Confessional Stories That Convicted Serial Killer G. J. Schaefer
  • Born Evil: A True Story Of Cannibalism And Serial Murder
  • I: The Creation of a Serial Killer
  • The Killer Book of Serial Killers: Incredible Stories, Facts and Trivia from the World of Serial Killers
  • Monster: My True Story
  • One Deadly Night : A State Trooper, Triple Homicide, and a Search for Justice
  • Death Scenes: A Homicide Detective's Scrapbook
  • Lustmord: The Writings and Artifacts of Murderers
  • Ted Bundy: Conversations with a Killer
  • Sudden Terror
  • Alien Hand Syndrome and Other Too-Weird-Not-To-Be-True Stories
  • True Stories of Law & Order: The Real Crimes Behind the Best Episodes of the Hit TV Show
  • Die For Me: The Terrifying True Story of the Charles Ng & Leonard Lake Torture Murders
  • Doing Time Like a Spy: How the CIA Taught Me to Survive and Thrive in Prison
  • The Man Who Could Not Kill Enough
Pete Earley is a storyteller who has penned 13 books including the New York Times bestseller The Hot House and the 2007 Pulitzer Prize finalist Crazy: A Father’s Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness.
After a 14-year career in journalism, including six years at The Washington Post, Pete became a full-time author with a commitment to expose the stories that entertain and surprise.
His honest