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American Predator: The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21st Century

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  16,621 ratings  ·  2,137 reviews

An Amazon “Best Book of 2019”
A Washington Post “10 Books To Read in July”
A Los Angeles Times “Seven Highly Anticipated Books for Summer Reading”
A USA Today “20 of the Season’s Hottest New Books”
A New York Post “25 Best Beach Reads of 2019 You Need to Pre-Order Now”
A Bustle “The Best New True Crime Books You Can Read Right Now”

“Maureen Calla
Hardcover, 285 pages
Published July 2nd 2019 by Viking (first published July 1st 2019)
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Kent Clizbe I stopped reading this book a couple chapters in. When it became hagiographic stenography for its FBI characters.

The FBI has a long history of provid…more
I stopped reading this book a couple chapters in. When it became hagiographic stenography for its FBI characters.

The FBI has a long history of providing access to authors/filmmakers who will portray the Bureau as heroes and tireless supermen.

Reality is much different. Not interested in reading FBI public relations press releases. (less)
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 4.08  · 
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 ·  16,621 ratings  ·  2,137 reviews

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Oct 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Read. This. Book.

Literally my face upon completion:

You want to feel this way whilst reading a true crime, don't you??? I mean, don't you!?

Quite honestly, this is by far one of the most disturbing books that I have ever read.

American Predator is a nonfiction account of the capture and subsequent investigation of serial killer, Israel Keyes.

Fortunately for the reader, this is much more than a droll portrayal of one monster's heinous crimes. Callahan creates a compelling recounting of the investig
Jan 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
American Predator: The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21st Century by Maureen Callahan is a Viking publication.

When I first noticed this book, the crime didn’t ring any bells for me. As the blurb stated most of us had never heard of Israel Keyes. As far I knew, this was a true crime story I had heard nothing about. But, after reading several positive reviews from my Goodreads peers, my curiosity was piqued, so I added it to the pile.

The book opens in Alaska, with a harrowing
Jeffrey Keeten
Sep 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
”Payne and Bell recognized Keyes’ threat as the mind control of an experienced criminal. Payne had learned it at Quantico and heard variations in countless confessions.

‘You’ll regret it.’ ‘I’ll hurt you.’

Neither is: ‘I’ll kill you,’ and that gives a victim hope. The best criminals always leave that window open, because it makes manipulating and controlling someone so much easier. And victims often believe, fatally, that they’ll be let go.”

 photo Israel Keyes_zps4zuz0dme.jpg
You are looking in the eyes of a stone cold killer.

Chelsea (chelseadolling reads)
Jan 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Wow, what a book to start the year off with. This was horrifying.
Jul 19, 2019 rated it really liked it

Billed as the most terrifying serial killer you’ve never heard of, I first heard of Israel Keyes on the podcast Crime Junkie. The why, where, and how he was caught, and the hours of interrogation by investigators, make up the bulk of this fascinating book.

Despite multiple blunders by the police, Keyes was arrested for the kidnapping of a teenage girl as the result of a fortuitous traffic stop. Unfortunately, she had been murdered and they soon discovered they had a serial murderer on their hands
Johann (jobis89)
Aug 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
“If he had been about five seconds slower getting out of his car and going into his apartment, he would have been The One that night.”

When we talk about the most prolific and horrifying serial killers, such as Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer etc, we should be adding another name to the list - Israel Keyes.

Prior to the hype around this book, and seeing that Last Podcast on the Left had covered him across a few episodes, I really had never heard of this guy before, which baffles me! Key
Feb 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
American Predator is the story of Alaskan serial killer Israel Keyes, his crimes and how he was captured.

I was chatting with a friend when the subject of what I was currently reading came up. I mentioned this book and I began thinking about why I’m always drawn to true crime – specifically serial killers/mass murderers. I certainly don’t admire them nor do I particularly care why they do what they do. Then I realized that I like to see how they inevitably slip up; what is the tiny mistake they m
Valerity (Val)
This book could really give you nightmares thinking about this man randomly traveling the US, with his buried ‘kill kits’ all over ready for him when the mood struck. Maureen Callahan does a great job introducing us to a frightening killer whose true scope will never be known. There was apparently some attempts to cover up his story by the government for a while when they caught up to him. This was during a period that they were trying to negotiate for information from him. He did give up bodies ...more
Jun 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
American Predator is by far one of the best true crime books I've read. It has a fascinating format - it starts with Israel Keyes' final victim and works backward. It sounds like this could get sloppy, but Maureen Callahan weaves it together so well. I sometimes have trouble reading true crime because of how dry it can be, but this book was addicting as hell (and not dry at all). The author tells a story, and doesn't just shout facts at you. I loved it, and I highly recommend picking up this boo ...more
Kayla Dawn
Nov 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned-books
This read like fiction. Which is good in terms of reading experience but really terrifying considering the subject matter.
Diane in Australia
Oct 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction-crime
Israel Keyes was a serial killer par excellence. He was usually the smartest person in the room ... any room, all kinds of people ... including the police, attorneys, and the FBI agents ... and he was well aware of this fact. He was very much 'at home in his own skin'.

The author spent over a decade researching how the FBI finally caught him, and what transpired afterwards. She did many interviews with folks who knew Israel, and several members of various law enforcement. She had access to classi
Jun 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Israel Keyes is one incredibly scary guy. I remember watching a true crime documentary about the serial killer a couple of years ago, and was equally enthralled and horrified that such a man existed and the luck it took to catch him.

This is a man who buried kill kits all over America, crossed multiple state lines to evade detection and was so meticulous in his execution that the FBI still don't know how many people he killed. Without his 'help' those victims that were identified likely never wo
Peter Monn
Aug 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of the best true crime books I have ever read! My full review will be up on my booktube channel at ...more
Mariah Roze
Dec 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Mariah Roze by: Matt
Last book of 2019 and man, it was a good one. This book is so heartbreaking and intense that I had to take multiple breaks from it.

"Most of us have never heard of Israel Keyes. But he is one of the most ambitious, meticulous serial killers of modern time. The FBI considered his behavior unprecedented. Described by a prosecutor as "a force of pure evil", he was a predator who struck all over the United States. He buried 'kill kits' - cash, weapons, and body-disposal tools - in remote locations ac
Rachel Bea
I don't read much true crime, but I saw this new release and decided to give it a shot. I had never heard of this serial killer before, which is frightening considering how many people he killed and the geographical range of where he did it. The book was written well and most importantly, it was written in a non-exploitative way. I'd recommend it if you're interested in true crime, but I gotta say during and after reading this I was really nervous to go out alone :/
Diane S ☔
Feb 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nfr-2020
A very creepy read. Further thoughts to come.
This was interesting enough to buoy me through a mini reading slump, but not something I’m going to give a second’s further thought after flipping the last page.

Stylistically, the first and second halves of this book read almost like two different pieces of writing. It wasn’t overt, and the material was still the same—still about Israel Keyes: his near-blundered capture, followed by his unspooling confessions—but the writing in the first part felt to me like barely more than a spruced-up Wikiped
Jul 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
When choosing a book to read, Jan and I share curiosity into the psyche of people, especially those who seem to defy what it means to be human, to be empathetic, to be a functioning member of society. For those who go against everything we think is normal human behavior, the psychopath, we look to find the motivations. Like the author, Maureen Callahan, we want to know they why, the how could this have happened, and most importantly can we ever know people we think we do? We chose American Preda ...more
Jill Hutchinson
Aug 31, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: true-crime
This book has consistently received 4/5 star ratings and I was interested to learn about Israel Keyes, a serial killer that most people have never heard of, including me. Let me give credit to the author for her in-depth research and interviews with people who were peripherally involved with Keyes. But the book just doesn't deliver and again I am in the minority!

Keyes confessed to one murder and suggested that maybe he committed two others but he held the police/FBI hostage as he refused to furt
Oct 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well, horror season is upon us!
And there's no better horror in my opinion, then true crime about a sadistic serial killer!!

Sure, go ahead and read your fiction but if you want to read something that really scares the hell out of you, pick this one up.

I came across American Predator last year due to great reviews and ratings from Goodreads friends.
I saw it was also a nomination for the Goodreads category of 2019 nonfiction, and I knew I had to give it a chance.

I've always loved true crime but at
Rachel (TheShadesofOrange)
Sep 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
4.0 Stars
This was a gripping piece of true crime that focused around a sociopathic serial killer. I was immediately pulled into the beginning of the novel which focused around the kidnapping of a young woman. I found the narrative in the later half to be less gripping because the information recounted felt more disjointed. Overall, I would recommend this one to anyone looking for a dark piece of true crime with a compelling narrative. 
Jan 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 4-stars, 2020, true-crime
Wow. Just wow. As a self-professed serial killer junkie (yes, I know that makes me sound unstable), I was blown away to discover a serial killer who was active and caught during my adulthood who I had never heard of. I am absolutely gobsmacked.

Israel Keyes was a textbook psychopath raised by "cult-chasers" and spent many of his formative years in a white supremacist cult and living off the grid (often in a tent or shack with no electricity or running water.) As an adult Israel traveled incessan
Jul 21, 2020 rated it liked it
I think Ellen has hit the nail on the head with this book - if I hadn't known anything about these cases going in, this would have been a much better book.

It's not bad, thus the three stars, but it is confined mostly to a background on Israel Keyes, and information gleaned from interviews with him. There's also the aspect of showing how the investigation and subsequent handling of interrogation went wrong, and boy did it - it's frustrating to read as someone with no law enforcement background at
May 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
True crime has been a guilty pleasure of mine for at least 30 years…I remember working in a public library and happily discovering the 364.1523 shelves (where even today I still browse, although TBH public library budgets often prevent a lot of trashy ephemeral reading material from making it to the shelves). These days, true crime has become a pop culture THING, and there’s no shortage of readily available books, movies, and podcasts dedicated to what used to be very much a niche market. I was ...more
Kris - My Novelesque Life

I first heard about this case on 48 Hours or Dateline and it blew me away. Just when you think you have seen it all with serial killers, then there comes the arrest of Israel Keyes. No law enforcement agency was aware of this serial killer. Meaning that they had not connected Keyes' victims to one predator. There was no looking for him. Often his murders weren't even discovered. We know of three murdered victims, and one only because Keyes confessed. Keyes made a mistake in kidnap
Sep 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars

"As our society grows more mobile, and as the availability of weapons of mass destruction increases, the ability of the antisocial personality to realize his rapacious and murderous fantasies grows apace." -- former FBI agent / profiler Robert K. Ressler (who is said to have coined the term 'serial killer')

Ms. Callahan's American Predator focuses on a methodical criminal who does not have the name recognition of Ted Bundy (*not that these monsters deserve any sort of notoriety*) but who
Jul 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
4 Stars
Ashley Daviau
Mar 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is probably one of the most chilling true crime novels I’ve read, if not THE most chilling. I don’t think I’ve ever been quite so disturbed while I was reading a book. This story is just beyond terrifying and the scope of Keyes crimes is just unbelievable and I get the chills just thinking about it. And the control he had over the investigators and the case is just mind boggling and makes this story that much more terrifying. Callahan does a fabulous job of putting the story on paper, she r ...more
Ellen Gail
Well, I sure feel like the odd duck out. Unfinished at 60%.

I will admit that I think the audiobook was the wrong way to go for this. The narrator's delivery was flat and unengaging. I also wasn't enamored with the writing style. It felt somewhat tedious.

I think the other hurdle that kept me from enjoying this was my prior knowledge.* This isn't always the case - for example, I was very familiar with Todd Kohlhepp before reading about him in The Killer Across the Table: Unlocking the Secrets of S
Jul 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
American Predator by Maureen Callahan details the investigation and capture regarding serial killer Israel Keyes. Keyes was a one-man criminal enterprise who committed burglaries, arsons, sexual assaults, thefts and murders all across the USA until his capture in 2012.

The book starts out slow, but quickly picks up speed and hits all the right notes of above average/high tier true-crime books.

As with many tales detailing complex and broad criminal investigations, Callahan aptly describes the su
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There's something great about a paperback book: They're perfect book club choices, you can throw them in your bag and go, and they've been out in...
59 likes · 17 comments
“What Keyes was describing was the textbook progression, from childhood, of a sadist and a psychopath. Torturing and killing small animals, pets especially, is experimentation in controlling and killing another living thing for pure pleasure. It is practice, the last step before graduating to humans. Even as an adult,” 2 likes
“Adventurers and loners, romantics and desperadoes, eccentrics and slow suicides—the luxuriousness of the place, its seduction and savagery, calls to the wildest among us. Alaska, the land of black moons and midnight suns.” 1 likes
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