Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Man in the Monster: An Intimate Portrait of a Serial Killer” as Want to Read:
The Man in the Monster: An Intimate Portrait of a Serial Killer
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Man in the Monster: An Intimate Portrait of a Serial Killer

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  383 ratings  ·  76 reviews
An astonishing portrait of a murderer and his complex relationship with a crusading journalist

Michael Ross was a serial killer who raped and murdered eight young women between 1981 and 1984, and several years ago the state of Connecticut put him to death. His crimes were horrific, and he paid the ultimate price for them.

When journalist Martha Elliott first heard of Ross, s
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published August 4th 2015 by Penguin Press
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

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

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Man in the Monster, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Martha Elliott I talked to him at least once a week for ten years and then every day for about six months at the end. I also talked to him in the prison many times a…moreI talked to him at least once a week for ten years and then every day for about six months at the end. I also talked to him in the prison many times and saw him in court.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.58  · 
Rating details
 ·  383 ratings  ·  76 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Man in the Monster: An Intimate Portrait of a Serial Killer
Erin Clemence
Journalist Martha Elliot became intrigued by serial killer Michael Ross when, instead of fighting for his life, he chose to accept the death row sentence he was handed, claiming he “owed it to the families of his victims”. During ten years of court appearances and appeals, Elliot met with Ross (in person and over the phone), to try and figure out what would make someone give up their life so easily. A staunch opposer to the death penalty, Elliot decided to turn her interviews into a novel and “T ...more
May 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Not a Impartial Account

This is not a balanced account but that’s fair. The author is entitled to her beliefs and world view. Elliott carefully goes through the serial killer Michael Ross’s life and his crimes as well as his mental state and capacity. She also retells as much as is known about the crime committed on each of his many victims. This part of the book is excruciating to read however I respect that she did it. Each victim deserves to be accounted for along with their fear, and often th
Heather Fineisen
A book is meant to evoke an emotional reaction in the reader. This is what an author strives for, correct? Martha Elliott has succeeded. My emotional reaction is irritated. Elliott, a reporter at the beginning of following of this story, befriends convicted serial killer and rapist Michael Ross as he sits on death row fighting for the death penalty. She grapples with her own conscience and beliefs and offers a comprehensive overview of serial killing and death penalty cases.

However, I found mys
Karen Wright
Aug 26, 2015 rated it did not like it
I was very interested in this topic since I had a cousin who was murdered by a serial killer back in 1980 who was subsequently executed in 2013.

I thought this book would give me insight into why a person could do such a thing to others. Instead, the author, Martha Elliot, crossed all boundaries of professional journalism by becoming friends with the serial killer/rapist, and ultimately living a decade of her life for him -- trying to defend his horrific crimes (and coming to terms with her feel
Jeanette Rivard
Aug 10, 2015 rated it did not like it
This is a very strange book. It's really about the author and her friendship with a killer as much as it is about anything. Martha Elliott is no Truman Capote, that's for sure. And I kept feeling like she thought it an honor to become friends with someone so vile. I can't help feeling that she might have been a victim herself: of the charms and manipulation of a psychopath. ...more
Jul 25, 2015 rated it liked it
This may well be the hardest review I have written. Not because I did not like the book or disagreed with something, but rather because my mind can't settle after finishing this story. I had never heard of Michael Ross before this book. So his stories, his victims, their families and the insight Martha Elliot provided was all new to me as I read and became immersed in this story. To say this book was horrifying, gripping, unsettling, etc. would not be adequate in explaining the complexity of emo ...more
Valerity (Val)
Jul 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 06, 2015 rated it it was ok
Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Group: The Penguin Press for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

It’s telling that midway through the first bit of this book – which I found to be about as imbalanced a portrayal of this subject as possible – I actually grabbed my phone to take a photo of my Kindle.

My husband gave me a strange look, naturally and asked what I was doing.

“Making sure I don’t forget this part. It made me so angry I’m afraid I’ll black it out due to rage.”

Let me just repeat th
John Allen
Mar 28, 2015 rated it did not like it
Michael Ross, the subject of Martha Elliot's hybrid memoir/"I'll remember you" tale of friendship with a death row inmate, was convicted of raping and murdering 8 women from 1981 - 1984. These included adolescent girls.

Martha Elliot befriended (if the reader is content to believe that friendship was all that was going on here) Michael Ross during her prestigious career as a journalist. While writing for the Tribune she decided to interview Ross about his guilt or innocence. For some reason, the
Brigid Keely
"The Man in the Monster: An Intimate Portrait of a Serial Killer," by Martha Elliott, is not like other books about serial killers I've read. Most books about serial killers, at least the ones I've read, are breathy sensational accounts with lurid attention to gory detail. They're fast paced and voyeuristic, almost pornographic. They take delight in recounting the horrific details and speculating as to what awful parts of the killers' pasts caused them to do what they did.

"The Man in the Monster
Jo Lisa
Sep 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
If you have watched any of my Booktuber videos, then you know that I have a fascination with serial killers... FICTION killers mostly. However, I also read nonfiction of the same sort, with a desire to understand what brings this out in a person... What causes someone to kill repeatedly?? Because of this desire to see the real person, I am very much against the death penalty! This book made me even more sure that, in my opinion and mine alone, we have no right to take someone's life... The autho ...more
Jan 08, 2016 rated it it was ok
Many thanks to Penguin Group and Netgalley for the ARC. The first half of the book didn't annoy me nearly as much as the second half did. What bothers me is not the writing, which is decent, but the unreliable voice of the narrator and how this unreliability shapes the narrative. What makes Ms. Elliot's voice seem unreliable is that nowhere in this book does she acknowledge the possibility that someone diagnosed with a narcissistic personality disorder could possibly be using her or manipulating ...more
Jul 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
While the book is about a serial killer who killed eight women in a short span of time, the book does not give the victims the same amount of research and detail it gives to the convicted murderer.
I did not find the account impartial. True, the author expressed her horror at the crimes, but went into great effort to show how the murderer is in fact a victim himself. I do not totally agree with her point of view, since many people had terrible childhoods and some were even abused still they did
Anne Howard
Oct 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I initially wanted to give this book a 3-star rating because I felt that the author had an anti-death penalty agenda (and she does.) However, having written a similar book about a serial killer that I got to know, I have other insights to offer. The author was deeply troubled by the matter- and she no doubt continues to be troubled to this day. That counts for something. She had the courage to face evil and the perplexing and disturbing question of the mystery head on. She is a very good writer. ...more
Jun 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
I received this book through NetGalley from Penguin Group for an honest feedback.

Martha, the author, had written the book exceptionally well for the readers to be engrossed when reading. The book is not only compelling and intresting but presented in a way that allows me to be submerged whenever I opened it. The psychological explanation that she decoded from different psychatrist and doctors to explain what sexual sadism is made me understand it much better.

Martha intresting relationship with t
Nov 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
In the early 1980's, Michael Ross stalked, raped and killed eight women in Connecticut. In 2005, he was put to death by lethal injection, the last person to be executed in that state. In between, for the last ten years of his life, journalist Martha Elliott interviewed him through weekly phone calls, letters and in person to determine what made this man do these horrible acts.

Ross was an intelligent person who graduated college and seemed ready to have a successful career. Instead, his compulsio
Mary Jo
Feb 24, 2016 rated it it was ok
My positive thoughts on this book:

1. It's well-written, and I appreciate how the narrative flows.
2. It tackles a tough subject with tact and respect, in some ways.
3. I understand and respect that these stories need to be told. It's important to try to understand why people commit the crimes they do, and how early experiences can wire someone to commit heinous acts. It's not an easy undertaking, and in the style of In Cold Blood, or even Dead Man Walking, there are multiple voices that need to b
Mar 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audible, true-crime
This book is one that takes a different approach to crime investigative writing. Ms. Elliott spent over 10 years getting to know Michael Ross. He became her friend, and as a result her writing was not unbiased. She empathized with the him. She truly learned to relate more to him than to his victims.

Things that I found interesting in this book is that you can see shadows of Ann Rule's "The Stranger Beside Me" in this story. Like Ann, Ms. Elliott tried to show the truth of the case. Another famous
Jul 01, 2015 rated it liked it
I’m sure this non-fiction book was a very personal and difficult one for the author to write. She befriended a serial killer and seeks to expose the man inside the monster. I’m not at all sure she accomplished that. It was very hard to determine whether anything this killer said or did was the truth or whether he was manipulating others, including the author. By the end of the book, I had little sympathy for this man.

The main debate in the book is whether a killer who is mentally ill should be e
I received an advanced e-galley of this book through the Penguin Books First to Read Program. I did not know anything about Michael Ross before receiving this book, but I found his story very fascinating. Martha Elliott spent 10 years corresponding and meeting with Michael to learn why, after receiving a reprieve from the Connecticutt State Supreme Court, why he would voluntarily choose to be put to death for his heinous crimes. Her research and investigation into the history about the murders, ...more
Erin Weigel
Feb 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If you're interested in abnormal psychology, neurology, or capital punishment and the judicial system, this book is a really quick and interesting read. Elliott's way of writing is engaging, personal, yet also interestingly objective considering her profession as a journalist.

I think the main overarching theme of this book is that things are never black and white. Our simplistic human brains like to categorize things and people into "good" / "bad" generalizations, but there are often so many th
I had a had time with this book. It is well written and readable but I felt a tad duped by the end. I think people need to know at the beginning that the author's relationship with this death row inmate becomes very complicated. By the end, reading between the lines and her recollection of their last moments together suggests that this was more than just a friendship for this author. She spent incredible amounts of money, gave up such significant time and her children were exposed to the realiti ...more
Jun 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
I thought this Bol would be more about the killer but I became absorbed in why the author became so obsessed with him. It was fascinating and eerie all at the same time.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 06, 2019 rated it liked it
This is an extremely difficult book for me to review. It is a book that tries to understand another human being. It tries to understand a number of things about Michael Ross. A man from Connecticut who despite growing up in a terribly sick and dysfunctional poor family, was accepted to and attended Cornell University School of Agriculture, eventually graduating with a degree. A man who shortly before he graduated began stalking women, terrifying them, and ultimately raping and murdering eight wo ...more
Monica Willyard Moen
Oct 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was emotionally painful to read. It was well written, and it is to the author’s credit that I finished the book feeling emotionally confused, torn, and divided. I wanted to hate the criminal, the subject of this book. I wanted to think of him as a despicable animal with no remorse or self control.
Instead, I met a man who had been those things but who was also a sinner seeking forgiveness from God primarily and to some extent from the families of his victims. He attempted to hasten his
Robert P. Hoffman
Jan 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a powerful book, I did not expect it to be as good as it turned out to be.

The author does an excellent job of showing how someone can become friends with a serial killer. The author does an excellent job of showing the pain and suffering the victims went through and the families went through.

The author is opposed to the death penalty but she never lectures the reader and she is quite understanding of the feelings of the families. If her account is truthful, and I have no reason to doubt
Misty Moseley-Helber
While I found this book interesting, I feel like the author allowed herself to be manipulated. I wanted more of an insight into the mind of a serial killer and way less of his bullshit. It's almost like he wanted people to believe he was innocent and it wasn't him who raped and killed so many women... well, okay, it was him but it was only a small evil part of him that he had no control over... a monster that took over his mind.
I'm also suspicious of his motives for voluntarily stopping the lega
Kim Johnson
Jun 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
This a well written and interesting accounting of Michael Ross, and reading the conversations between the author and the killer was fascinating. I didn’t buy Ross’ remorse or the idea that he was somehow separate from the monster who killed, but I don’t see that as a failing of the book. Rather, it serves as a window in to a narcissist who claimed to be attempting to spare the victims’ families of further pain while pretty clearly actually trying to manipulate everything and everyone around him.
Darlene Jilks
Jul 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. I am glad that Martha was able to become Micheal's friend and meet his father. It is a disturbing story to read and I feel very bad for the family of the victims. I was not sure if I felt bad for Micheal or if he was "bluffing" about his real feelings. I did enjoy the read though and I hope that Martha is not forever bothered about being Micheal's friend. ...more
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Journey Into Darkness (Mindhunter #2)
  • Imperfect Justice: Prosecuting Casey Anthony
  • The Beauty in Breaking
  • What We Forgot to Bury
  • Son of a Gun: A Memoir
  • The Wife Stalker
  • Exposed: The Secret Life of Jodi Arias
  • Truths I Never Told You
  • The Perfect Marriage
  • Luster
  • The Getaway
  • The Patient
  • Inside Jobs: Tales from a Time of Quarantine
  • Ghosts of Harvard
  • The New Husband
  • Music for Chameleons
  • The Apartment
  • Conviction: The Untold Story of Putting Jodi Arias Behind Bars
See similar books…

Related Articles

Happy Women's History Month! One of the undisputedly good things about modern scholarship is that women’s history is finally getting its due....
64 likes · 10 comments