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Serial Killers: The Method and Madness of Monsters

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  4,847 ratings  ·  222 reviews
A comprehensive examination into the frightening true crime history of serial homicide--including information on America's most prolific serial killers such as:

Ted Bundy - "Co-ed Killer" Ed Kemper - The BTK Killer - "Highway Stalker" Henry Lee Lucas - Monte Ralph Rissell - "Shoe Fetish Slayer" Jerry Brudos - "Night Stalker" Richard Ramirez - "Unabomber" Ted Kaczynski - Ed
Paperback, 412 pages
Published October 5th 2004 by Berkley
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Average rating 4.13  · 
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 ·  4,847 ratings  ·  222 reviews

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Ruslan Farben
Apr 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is absolutely the best book out there on serial killing. The way it is written you can crack open the book at any page and read through, like a tv show. He repeats sometimes a thought or a sentence in case you missed an important point in this random approach, but it does not hurt even if you read it from page one straight through to the end. I really like that he does not present himself as some kind of profiler expert but approaches the phenomenon of serial killers with fear and wonder fr ...more
Martha Wilkins
Jul 23, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very interesting & intriguing book. It discussed an array of topics surrounding serial killers including what you can do to survive should you ever encounter one. I was really interested in the stories of some well known & some not so well known serial killers. However, what I was most interested in reading about was the chapters that talked about the different types & the proposed reasoning behind why they committed their crimes. Anyone who likes reading books about serial killers or ...more
Sep 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars - I liked this one, but I do think it is rather outdated at this point in terms of its attitudes and understanding of the psychology of non-cis, non-straight people. Still, I appreciate the sweeping scope of this history, and I think it is an interesting read, albeit a book of its time
Jan 09, 2021 rated it really liked it
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Amazon US * Amazon UK

Oct 05, 2010 rated it it was ok
Repetitious, similar to a cable TV show that keeps breaking for commercial and then returning to repeat the last 10 minutes of what the viewer saw just before the commercial. The book could have been cut by a third and been more effective. Also, I sensed a bias by the author (or his research) against women. There are many references to "domineering mothers" as a common characteristic of serial killers but only one that I can remember that made reference to the possible role of fathers in a child ...more
Apr 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: borrowed
A rather scary read, with many 'scary' moments for me personally. The two episodes of the writer encountering two serial killers on separate occassions give me goosebumps. Many of the quotes Vronsky chooses to open his chapters make me shudder. A few examples:

These crimes and offenses I committed solely for my evil pleasure and evil delight, to no other end or with no other intention, without anyone’s counsel and only in accordance with my imagination.
—GILLES DE RAIS, Confession, 1440

When we rem
Apr 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I have been intrigued by serial killers for years, and every once in a while I pick up a book that focuses on them. I just recently started watching Mindhunter on Netflix, and that resulted in me wanting to pick up another book on this subject. I was curious to see how serial killers have changed over the last decades. We'll probably never know what makes them do the things they do, however there are many factors that play important roles in their buildup to actual murder/violence. This book gav
Caidyn (he/him/his)

This is, honestly, a fantastic book about serial killers. It combines all the information we know about them -- including conversations about psychopathy, psychosis, and the different types of serial killers with classifications and examples. And, since this book was published in 2004, it's very recent. I mean, the information didn't exactly differ much from what I already knew about them and what I learned in my psychopathy class. There has been a ton of work on brain imaging and those bio
Dec 27, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: serial-killers
A gift from David to fuel my weird interest, and it's working. This one has taken me away from A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN and a personal account of the Bataan Death March. That's a compliment!

Finally done - took long enough, but this was some dense material. The statistics in the early part of the book almost made me give up, but the author's short descriptions of select serial killers made up for it. Edmund Kemper will be a new interest for future reading. The pathology sections were interesting
May 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
This is possibly the best book on serial murder. The author's style is clear and flows very well, so it's easy to read despite the subject material. The history and psychology of serial murder are also worked out very well. My usual complaint with books on this subject is that they are written in some sort of sensationalist style. With this book, that is not the case.
The only thing that can be dazzling to the reader is the amount of (now dated) statistic used. When I read this book for the seco
May 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Much like a common newspaper report, the book is broad in scope and full of sensational details, but lacks depth and thoughtfulness. After a few chapters, Vronsky’s background as a journalist becomes evident.

I may have come into this book with high expectations. I had earlier done some research on serial killers (god knows there is tons of material online), and thought that a book that claims to “document the psychological, investigative, and cultural aspects of serial murder” would take me a st
Apr 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
Informative. I found the case histories fascinating, and there were even some tips on what to do if you're ever unlucky enough to be caught by a serial killer (hint: don't get in the car). I enjoyed learning about the pathology of psychopaths, although at times I felt Vronsky inserted his own biases too far into the text. For instance, I thought he was a bit defensive when it came to the possible role porn might play in developing serial killers. It's pretty clear he doesn't believe porn is detr ...more
Mar 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone writing murder mysteries
Recommended to Bj by: Knight Agency
So far, I've learned not to read this book before bed. Disturbing, but hard to put down. ...more
Jul 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: true-crime
Really interesting book! Good for those who like or are studying psychology or criminology!
Bey Deckard
One of my fave books. I need a new copy... mine is so beat up that I use the loose pages as a bookmark in other parts of the book.
Nov 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
As a fan of Criminal Minds (the television series), I read this book for two reasons. One, to understand the frequent references to the stories of various serial killers, and two, to get a better grasp of what criminal profiling/behavioral analysis at the FBI is really like. This book accomplished both purposes quite well. (Notable exceptions would be not discussing the cases of Son of Sam and the Zodiac Killer.) I'm not typically a non-fiction reader, but this book really captured my interest f ...more
Apr 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Really a book designed for those who really want to learn about serial killer workings, histories, and brain patterns. There is so much more to the monsters than meets the eye. You will find yourself Googling murders and news articles. A pretty disturbing book, but worth it. It took me a long time to finish this book because there isn't an adventure, and it's pretty rare for this type of book to find its way into my hands. I really did enjoy it. ...more
Alexandra Lucia Brînaru
Mar 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Very interesting book. I would really recommend it to anyone that's interested in such matters.
It is very well-structured, also including chapters about how you can protect yourself from such people or how you can identify them, all information taken from FBI agents that have worked on cases and even from the offenders themselves.
If you feel like you want to explore this domain of true crime and you are a beginner, I think this book is perfect for you!
May 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Very thorough. Peter Vronsky writes with flair, and doesn't just spit out the facts. Plus, he's had two random encounters with serial killers himself. Sometimes I skip the Introduction in books - don't do it with this one! The best book I've read on the subject. ...more
Monika Ghosh
It's a very informative and contemplating book. The part that scared me the most is serial killers aren't always isolated, with low intelligence and crazy, they are sometimes very normal people with normal behaviour. ...more
Mar 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned-books
Story - 4.7
Narration - 4.5

This book covers a LOT of ground; from Ancient Rome to now, from domineering mothers to methods of madness, and of course the killers.

This is probably the most complete and well-rounded serial killer study that I've come across.
Jul 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone
So much interesting, great information! You will not get bored reading this book!
Jul 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I highly recommend this book that has any interest or fascination into true crime, particularly serial killers. Lots of information.
Oct 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Sick and twisted and an informative awesome history of serial killers
Oct 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
thanks to this book, i now know how to avoid being serial killed.
Tiffany Neal
Aug 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Disturbing, insightful, and fascinating. Everything I love in a book- especially a non-fiction one!
Serial killers have always fascinated me.

*I know I'm not right in the head!*

This book goes deep into why they do what they do. I don't think we will ever truly know the exact reason.
Mar 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
As anyone with even the vaguest idea of my reading habits will have noticed, I’m fascinated by true crime – and serial killers in particular. I can’t tell you why that is (although I’ve read lots of theories about why women, and in particular women with anxiety, are so drawn to the subject), but what I can tell you is that Serial Killers: The Method and Madness of Monsters is an excellent book on the history of serial killing, the psychopathology of these types of killers and the profiling metho ...more
Declan McHugh
Feb 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I have read hundreds of books about serial killers (for work purposes). This is one of the best.

One startling fact is that Vronsky had bumped into a couple of the serial killers he later writes about, in hotel lobbies, before they were arrested. These predators are more plentiful than we care to acknowledge. Why do we refuse to accept the evidence of our eyes? I suspect because it's just too damn scary.....
James Heiney
Nov 19, 2010 rated it liked it
This was a good book with some interesting case histories on serial killers. The best feature was learning the different ways that are used to classify serial killers and the different types. There is a lot more variation than we see on TV and in the movies.

I had some issues with long stretches of statistics that just felt plopped into the text. They would have been better served if the number could have been worked in as part of the narrative flow.

Overall, not bad if you are interested in the t
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PETER VRONSKY is an author, filmmaker, and forensic-investigative historian. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Toronto in the history of espionage in international relations and criminal justice history.

Peter Vronsky is the author of a series of books on the history serial homicide: Serial Killers: The Method and Madness of Monsters (2004); Female Serial Killers: How and Why Women Become Mo

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40 likes · 6 comments
“Few would disagree that Herbert Mullin, who thought he was saving California from the great earthquake by killing people, and Ed Gein, who was making chairs out of human skin, were entirely insane when they committed their acts. The question becomes more difficult with somebody like law student Ted Bundy, who killed twenty women while at the same time working as a suicide prevention counselor, or John Wayne Gacy, who escorted the first lady and then went home to sleep of thirty-three trussed-up corpses under his house. On one hand their crimes seem "insane," yet on the other hand, Bundy and Gacy knew exactly what they were doing. How insane were they?” 6 likes
“Psychopaths also show abnormal balances of chemicals currently linked to depression and compulsive behavior: monoamine oxidase (MAO) and serotonin.” 0 likes
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