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The Hillside Stranglers

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  3,864 ratings  ·  79 reviews
For weeks in the fall of 1977, as the body count of sexually violated, brutally murdered young women escalated, the Los Angeles newspapers headlined the increasingly alarming deeds of a serial killer they named the Hillside Strangler. But it would take more than another year and the mysterious disappearance of two young women in Seattle before the police would arrest one m ...more
Paperback, 448 pages
Published May 15th 2003 by Running Press (first published 1985)
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In Cold Blood by Truman CapoteHelter Skelter by Vincent BugliosiThe Stranger Beside Me by Ann RuleThe Devil in the White City by Erik LarsonColumbine by Dave Cullen
Best True Crime
1,003 books — 1,458 voters
In Cold Blood by Truman CapoteThe Devil in the White City by Erik LarsonHelter Skelter by Vincent BugliosiMidnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John BerendtThe Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule
True Crime--Well Written
283 books — 293 voters

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3.95  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,864 ratings  ·  79 reviews

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Paul Bryant
Apr 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: true-crime
Technology created the serial killer and (fingers crossed) it’s looking like technology has uncreated him too. There were no serial murders before there were cities and plentiful urban transport. When you stay within a 30 mile radius of your village you won’t find many victims. But when you have a nice car and all of LA at your disposal, then the sky is the limit. However, now we have DNA science, so you only get to do one, maybe two murders now before they’re knocking on your door at 5 am. And ...more
Christian Engler
Sep 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I was always aware of Darcy O'Brien as an impeccable fiction writer, especially for his book, A Way of Life, Like Any Other, which won the prestigious Ernest Hemingway Award. However, I did not know that he was equally adept at writing true crime, and The Hillside Stranglers is indeed his pièce de résistance. O'Brien gets into the nitty gritty of the underbelly of the deviant Los Angeles sex scene where booze, violence and pimping all went hand in hand. Added to that is the depictions of the gru ...more
Rebecca McNutt
Aug 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Disturbing beyond belief yet definitely well researched, The Hillside Stranglers is like reading a criminology file, and it's one of the most extensive and suspenseful books I've ever read.
BAM The Bibliomaniac
Gruesome just gruesome

One of the best true crime books I’ve read
Oct 09, 2014 rated it liked it
I read this book due to a strong sense of curiosity. I lived in Glendale at the time of these murders and well remember the fear we all lived under. I was in junior high at the time. As I read, I could picture all the places mentioned. I remember that after we all found out of Buono's guilt, we were especially horrified when we realized that we had used his shop! He did auto upholstery and he had done one of our cars. Then as I read the book, I also discovered that one of the teachers at my scho ...more
Kimberly Pilya
Jun 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
Very disturbing but a graphic and grotesque wake up call to the kind of evil present in our society.
Aug 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Comprehensive and thorough investigation into the crimes and trials of the Hillside Stranglers

Mr. O'Brien has written the quintessential account of the murder spree perpetrated by Angelo Buono and Kenneth Bianchi and done so in a manner that reads like a novel. The nearly 450 pages are filled with facts that are so bizarre the story probably wouldn't have been accepted it offered in the form of a novel. While these murders occurred nearly forty years ago, the crimes were so horrendous and the tw
Valerie Zink
Apr 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book took me awhile but not because it wasn't good. It was amazing and incredibly disturbing. This is the first true crime I have read in awhile and the author was great at starting by getting into the minds of the killers, and that is what was creepy and disturbing. Excellent writing!

The last part about the trial and all the players therein was also amazing. I would highly recommend this one. I learned a lot that I did not know. I was a child when this was going on and I do remember it ma
Rebecca Martin
Sep 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
I really appreciate Darcy O'Brien's approach to true crime. This book is pretty hard to take though. I had no idea of the details of these crimes, though I remember the period when they were occurring. I still like O'Brien's Murder in Little Egypt (5 stars) for its meticulous picture of a relatively isolated part of the country and a way of life. In contrast, The Hillside Stranglers is only enlightening about the murders themselves and the relationship between the criminals.
Wholly disturbing. Period. I don't feel like this account really delves into the murderers minds to give you any kind of perspective regarding why they did this. But, this book does give a graphic account of each of the murders and does a fair job of describing the trial and outcome .
May 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: true-crime
I read this a long time ago but I can remember it being one scary book. Angelo Bono and Kenneth Bianchi were modern day boogeymen. The book was well written enough to have me looking over my shoulder when I walked down the street.
Dec 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gruesome but fascinating

This book was well written and well researched. The details of the murders were hard to read, but the rest of the book was fascinating. The courtroom drama was almost unbelievable. All in all a great book.
Appalling, sickening portrait of two cousins who really should have been drowned at birth. This is one of those rare true-crime stories that reads like great, great fiction. Very hard to put down, if you can stand to read it at all.
Jul 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have a fascination with serial murder cases, and this one doesn't disappoint. It was well-written and high interest, with plenty of information about this real-life case I didn't know.
Adrian Phoenix
Jan 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own, true-crime
Again, as with most true crime, fascinating, but horrifying.
Nov 22, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
I think firstly, I'll get what I didn't enjoy about this book, out of the way. I wasn't a fan of the 'fictional' feeling I got from the writing. There were times when it felt more like a fictional story, than a non-fiction book. I'm quite picky when it comes to authors reading transcripts and interviews, and the likes, and then constructing a reenactment of sorts. I feel like there's a little too much room for dramatisation in that respect and it has me wondering if that really happened the way ...more
Sam Biddick
May 29, 2017 rated it liked it
This book starts off slow, but boy once it gets going it gets going, ya know what I mean?

Ok for starters, this book is a trip because it's about some murders that take place in the sixties and seventies in hollywood. There are tons of prostitutes and strippers, and once they start getting murdered the cops are interrogating all kinds of scuzzy witnesses. They often hypnotize their witnesses too, which is totally commonplace in Hollywood, apparently. The story follows the investigation and the m
Dec 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a FANTASTIC read! Recommend to anyone who enjoys true crime.

It reads somewhat like a fiction book (I mean, there’s dialogue, friends), especially at the beginning, and has incredible detail that is worked into the book so well that it never feels overwhelming. Super interested to read other books by this author!

This case is maddening and incredibly sick, however I enjoyed learning about it as I’d never heard of it before (strange, I’m a true crime fanatic). It goes through each and every
Rachel Dows
Jun 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dark dark dark dark dark. And yet, fascinating. If you, like so many nowadays, find yourself fascinated by the morbid, twisted world of serial killers, you'll love this one. What may be most important, at least for me, is O'Brien's focus on the killers as evil and unimaginably cruel, but human. Well-researched and well-written.
Sep 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is truly disturbing, and as such, I can't in good conscience recommend it to anyone. For those who don't heed my warning, you are in for a good read, one that's can't-put-it-down-ness is attributed to the author's adept writing, thorough research, and unsettling depiction of human depravity.
Jessica Fleming
Apr 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have to give praise to Darcy O'Brien for even being able to write this book, the hours of research alone. The beginning half confused me, was I reading a Novel? The last half of the book gives more insight on the detective work and the trial. A well written page turner!
Margaret Bechtol
Jan 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
These were a couple of creeps. The book is graphic and tells what sadists they were. Some think they wouldn't have killed separately but one moved to the Pacific Northwest and killed again then tried to claim insanity. It didn't work, this is a good read if you like true crime.
Barbara Roush
Feb 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I dislike calling any book dealing with such painful subject matter brilliant but the fact is,this book is written with high sensitivity,respect for the victims ,a dry prose,which conveys the truth without frills.
Jul 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
5 stars for the research that the author must have put into this. These were real women who should be remembered, and it’s a reminder to me that evil people can scheme together. The perpetrators were just two pathetic losers.
May 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018-books
Aside from the awfulness of the actual murders, the latter part of the book that discusses the trial is fascinating. It was such a spectacle. Anyone who is interested in true crime and the “insanity defense“ would enjoy this book.
Anthony Ambruso
Nov 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting book

The author took a known story with a known outcome and filled in all the blanks, and he did it in a very telling fashion. I recommend this book to all true crime enthusiasts.
May 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: true-crime
Half way through I thought : "why am I even reading this?". I do not enjoy reading about the lives of these two pig turds and the details of their crimes. The disregard for human life and the way the girls were killed made me sick to my stomach. So I quit, The writing is good though.
Jun 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Too much novelizing, too little reporting.
Lauren Huff
Aug 27, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
Sexualizes murder victims, including underage girls. Too gross to finish.
Emily Carlyn
May 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a truly rough read. Disgusting and stunning. The court sessions were just infuriating.
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Darcy O'Brien was born in Los Angeles, the son of Hollywood silent film actor George O’Brien and actress Marguerite Churchill.

O'Brien attended Princeton University and University of Cambridge, and received a master's degree and doctorate from the University of California, Berkely. From 1965 to 1978 he was a professor of English at Pomona College. In 1978 he moved to Tulsa, and taught at the Unives
“He then, again by way of reference to legal precedent and authority, reminded the District Attorney’s Office that it was charged with grave responsibilities which demanded integrity, zeal, and conscientious effort in the gathering and presentation of evidence. He quoted the American Bar Association’s standards for prosecutors: “In making the decision to prosecute, the prosecutor should give no weight to the personal or political advantages or disadvantages which might be involved or to a desire to enhance his or her record of convictions.” 1 likes
“For a second, he was a little relieved. He would always rather deal with the murder of a drug addict. Addicts died young anyway.” 0 likes
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