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The Ultimate Evil: The Truth about the Cult Murders: Son of Sam and Beyond

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  1,422 ratings  ·  136 reviews
On August 10, 1977, the NYPD arrested David Berkowitz for the "Son of Sam" murders that had terrorized New York City for more than 13 months. Berkowitz confessed to being a lone murderer—one who had carried out eight senseless shooting with a .44 caliber Bulldog revolver. The case was officially closed.

Journalist Maury Terry was suspicious of Berkowitz's confession, convin
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Hardcover, 538 pages
Published May 10th 2004 by Barnes & Noble (first published 1987)
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Average rating 3.92  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,422 ratings  ·  136 reviews


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Sir Michael Röhm
Dec 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
Generally, the people who discuss this book are either conspiracy nuts who believe the government is spying on them through their cereal or something equally crazy, fundamentalist Christians who are eager to prove that Satan is out to get everyone or professional skeptics who have an axe to grind against the former two and a desire to look very smart and very clever on top of it.

I had read this book back in my high school days, but only remembered some bits and pieces from it (crazy death cults
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John
Nov 14, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Oh the good old days before DNA and real good forensics, where one Fire Island obsessed NY reporter could toil away on a single story for decades. Where a good juicy serial killer could make the career of a plucky young journalist.

When Terry is not "recreating" conversations between himself and police, himself and District Attorneys, or himself and other newspaper men, he is retyping prison letters from inside snitches.

See, here is the thing about this: Berkowitz did it. Alone. Because he is a
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Lea
Mar 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition


Re-read for 2016. Still one of my favorites, this is an amazing piece of investigative journalism by author Maury Terry. This is one I have to keep replacing -- I never get it back whenever anyone borrows it. :)
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♥Milica♥
Okay so, I love conspiracies and I have nothing against the theories in this book, I was just bored while reading. Or rather listening.

The introduction made this seem like it was going to be great, shocking, super duper interesting etc etc, and it was at the start. But as it went on I began to lose interest and right now I don't feel like continuing it. Maybe at some point in the future I'll give it another chance.
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Steve Tannuzzo
What happens when true crime meets conspiracy theory? An 800-page brick of actual crimes tied very loosely together in the most unconvincing ways.

I couldn’t put it down.

The Ultimate Evil, published in 1987, makes a valiant (and ridiculous) effort to prove the existence of a Satanic network of killers that includes David Berkowitz (alias Son of Sam), and ties his actions back to the Manson family.

Author Maury Terry uses his own (hopefully steel-trap) memory to recreate his conversations (What!?
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Ashley Daviau
This big brick of a book has me feeling a bit conflicted. For the first half I was super into it and absolutely fascinated, it’s the first time I’ve read anything about David Berkowitz and the search for the Son of Sam. Or rather SonS of Sam according to this book. It’s a crazy and wildly interesting story to learn about no matter the conspiracies. Then the second half came along and Berkowitz disappeared and it became one long rambling conspiracy theory. From there on it became hard to follow a ...more
Jannelies
Dec 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
True crime books are not for the faint of heart. When reading about a fictional murder or murderer, you always have in your mind ‘this isn’t real’ and usually crime fiction ends when the murderer is caught. So not always with true crime. In most true crime books, you can find detailed descriptions of how people were murdered.
In The Ultimate Evil we find a lot of such descriptions. But not only that, we find – if we do choose to believe in it – a whole theory about serial killers. Maury Terry, j
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Fishface
Jul 26, 2019 rated it it was ok
This book started out spectacularly, with the atrocious ritual murder of Arlis Perry, but after that it went haring off in so many directions -- trying to make the murder into a tiny detail in a massive conspiratorial tapestry -- that I totally lost interest and couldn't finish it. I wish I still had my copy because they're selling for a king's ransom now, but don't ask me to try to read it again. ...more
Andy
Jun 12, 2021 rated it really liked it
Am I rating this book on whether I enjoyed it or whether I believed it?

Maybe it's strange to say that I didn't believe all of Terry's claims, but I thoroughly enjoyed and was unaccountably, even out-of-proportion unsettled by this book at times. I love fictional works by obsessive, frenetic authors and found this incredibly immersive, even if it is flawed. Terry wonderfully illustrates the time, place and mood of the era as he recounts his own journey with his lifelong obsession.

Do I believe eve
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Scott Revels
Jun 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is very creepy to read when you are alone. I thought this was an excellent investigative book into the multiple killings in New York City in the late 70's by the "44 Cabiber Killer" or the "Son of Sam" killer (s). Too much evidence suggests that this was in no way a one man job. Even the cops investigating this case at the time always thought it was more than one killer. Every crime scene had a different description of the shooter/shooters. The only reason this was all pinned on David Berko ...more
Steve
I've loaned this one out a few times, and never seem to get it back. One of great cult books of all time. (The dog didn't do it.) And Berkowitz probably only did some of it. Read it and see. The book drips purple prose, which no doubt turns off some, and gives skeptics ammunition to shout down Terry's theories. And yet, I wouldn't want it written any other way. Terry raises some points that are hard to ignore. The main one being that there were others involved with the killings. ...more
Bob Mayer
Jul 29, 2021 rated it really liked it
Interesting book speculating whether there were more killers than Berkowitz. A girl in my class got shot & I remember that year well. I remember the place he talks about in Yonkers-- we used to party around there in high school. I think he took it all a step too far, but I believe he has a case that the two brothers might have had some involvement. I use Son of Sam in the background in my Will Kane series, starting with New York Minute.
Carla Senna
Jan 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Compulsive read, very scary implications. Brilliant!
One of my favorite book, read it many times over!
Cwn_annwn_13
Dec 11, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting and entertaining but at least some of what is put out and theorized here is likely bullshit. People just love their spooky stories by the campfire.
Lisa Hernandez
May 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Best Book EVAHH!
Kevin Denton
Jan 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most underrated books of our time, "The Ultimate Evil" is a "can't turn these GD pages fast enough" romp through the most convoluted murder mystery of our time. Was the Son of Sam merely a cover up for one of the most devious Satanic cults in the world? After reading Maury's long, really long, tale, I'd say "maybe?" ...more
Tammy
May 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
I have finally finished this book. It was fascinating. I ended up liking it so much that I looked for the book that he was supposedly working on about the Lisa Steinberg murder; however, it looks like this was the only book he has written. This book was really scary and it really makes you wonder about unsolved murders and missing people.
britt_brooke
Apr 27, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Originally published in 1987, but recently updated to coincide with the new Netflix docuseries. Prior to this, I knew zero details of Son of Sam. Did Berkowitz act alone? I usually steer clear of serial killer stories because my brain is weird, but there may have been a cult involved, and y’all know how I find them sociologically fascinating. Journalist Maury Terry sells the deadly satanic cult conspiracy hard. I’m not sure what to think!
Kirsten
Jul 13, 2012 rated it it was ok
This was actually a little better than I expected. The author makes a pretty good case that Berkowitz was not the sole killer involved with the "Son of Sam" killings, and that he had connections to people who were possibly involved in all manner of shadiness, primarily drug dealing. I'm willing to buy that, and I'm willing to buy that Berkowitz put in some effort to appear crazier than he actually was prior to getting caught.

Other stuff, I'm less willing to run with. Terry tries to link anything
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Dreadlocksmile
Apr 18, 2009 rated it liked it
Terry offers an interesting and novel look on the Son Of Sam killings that terrorized America. He delivers the notion that Berkowitz did not in fact act alone, rather, he was merely a scapegoat to divert the attention away from what was apparently 'really going on'. Terry's theory is that a nation wide Satanic cult, with connections in the highest and widest places is responsible. He even goes on to identify the cult as an apparent off shoot of the Process church. Connections are then swiftly ma ...more
Matt Bleak
Dec 26, 2013 rated it did not like it
Classic piece of sensationalist trash that falls under the category of 'Satanic Panic'literature, an hysterical craze that swept most of the US and other Western countries in the late 1980s that was based on the premise that a vast network of Satanic cults had infiltrated all levels of modern society.

Poorly researched, full of factual errors, ludicrous speculation not to mention outright lies, slander and hearsay.

It's hard to tell whether Maury Terry genuinely believed the crap he churned out f
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Steve Cunningham
Aug 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Scary book on several levels, and is very clearly on the money by and large. Great research. I even checked out the Carrs' home and surrounding area on Google Earth when re-reading this recently; quite a cocktail.

Strangely, a minor point of detail towards the end slightly undermined some of the other research: the star symbol used by the rock band Rush is not a pentagram and has no satanic connotations whatsoever. Lazy heavy metal / devil worship cliche that was given significance where there wa
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Jhef
Jan 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
An absolutely fascinating story and in-depth review of the Son of Sam murders. Maury Terry takes this to the deepest level of the cultish underground of New York, ultimately indicting the Process Church of the Final Judgment. I've come across some contradictory information regarding Terry's conclusions, especially an interview with Timothy Wyllie who found Terry's work laughable, but no one has taken the time to carefully deconstruct the events in a similar matter and prove Terry otherwise. I hi ...more
Mike Bevel
May 10, 2018 rated it liked it
This book. Guys. I.

Listen: 100 pages of this does a great job of explaining the Son of Sam/.44 Killer crimes. Terry also does a good job in using witness accounts to suggest that it may not have been as simple as David Berkowitz Did It All.

But there comes a point where he starts to go full Sunday New York Times Crossword, reading clues on clues within some of the SoS letters that just don't pass any sort of razor, Occam or otherwise.

He gets lost in his own forest.

Also, this book did not at al
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Martha Steele
May 02, 2021 rated it liked it
When consumed again I am removing a star, mainly because I'm SO much more cynical than I was back in the 80s . The whole "satanic cult" thing is a a hard sell for 2021 me. However this is still a good read when considering the time period and the excellent investigative reporting that went into it ...more
Annie
Oct 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
Fascinating theory on the Son of Sam murders! Maury Terry really seems to have done his research and raises some interesting questions.
Bob Schnell
I was in Junior High in Long Island when the .44 caliber killings took place. Everyone was freaking out. When David Berkowitz was caught and confessed to every shooting, we thought it was all over. Boy, were we wrong!

"The Ultimate Evil" was originally published in 1987 and I completely missed it. Now, with this updated edition, I am paying attention. Maury Terry doesn't just speculate that the killing spree was a national conspiracy of sex and drug addled devil worshippers, he provides proof. So
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Timmy
Nov 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing
At 538 pages this wasn't exactly a walk in the park. The book was, at times to put it bluntly, scary. The NYPD literally went out of there way to pin all of the shootings on this one guy when without question is a cult of shooters. A satanic cult at that. All of which David Berkowicz would eventually admit to. A terrific read but if you aren't game for the 538, Netflix has a terrific true crime series based on this book.

The Ultimate Evil.....Five Stars.
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Jessica
Oct 17, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: true-crime, local
This is a local interest book in the town I moved to, Minot, North Dakota. The author is convinced that the Son of Sam had accomplices that were all part of a Satanic cult. One of those accomplices supposedly was murdered or committed suicide here in Minot.

It's an interesting idea, but I'm not sure the author's proof adds up to much considering this was written at the height of the "satanic panic" of the 1980's. They also recently used DNA to solve one of the murders the Minot accomplice was sup
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David Corleto-Bales
An exceptionally long tome about how the Son of Sam case in the 1970s was probably tied to a broader conspiracy that David Berkowitz got involved with after being exposed to a deranged group of self-styled "Satanists" while in the military in North Dakota. Maury tenuously ties the Son of Sam to Charles Manson's group, but this is not convincing to me. This is a re-read of a book that I thought was thrilling back in the 1980s, but it could have done with an editing down. ...more
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We asked Alice Bolin, author of Dead Girls: Essays on Surviving an American Obsession, and journalist-turned-crime novelist Laura...
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“I think we believe in the specter of organized evil to make sense of aberrant behaviors we don’t understand, and to protect us from a far more unsettling notion: that this malevolence we fear does exist, and it lives deep inside each and every one of us, waiting to emerge. In the end, is it not more terrifying to accept that there is no grand conspiracy—no structure, no organization, no method to the madness that haunts us all? That there is only rudderless chaos? To me, that is the ultimate evil.” 1 likes
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