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The Boston Strangler

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  1,020 ratings  ·  53 reviews
A reprint of a hardcover edition.

The most bizarre series of murders since Jack the Ripper triggered the greatest man-hunt in the annals of modern crime for Albert deSalvo, brutal sexual psychopath, who murdered thirteen women and held a city in the icy grip of terror for eighteen months.
Paperback, 0 pages
Published August 31st 1967 by Signet (first published 1966)
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3.76  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,020 ratings  ·  53 reviews

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Dan Schwent
Jun 15, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016-books, 2016
From 1962-1964, thirteen women were sexually assaulted and murdered, strangled to death by an unknown assailant. This book chronicles the resulting manhunt.

I'm mentioned several times that I'm not really into true crime. I prefer my murders to be fictitious. After enjoying the shit out of True Crime Addict: How I Lost Myself in the Mysterious Disappearance of Maura Murray, I decided to give true crime another chance.

Well, I still prefer my crimes to be the made up ones but this was a pretty enga
Linda Strong
Jul 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Between 1962 and 1964, 13 women were sexually assaulted, bound and then strangled often with their own panty hose. Boston was almost frozen in fear. Women were afraid to open their doors to anyone. In one case, a woman opened her door without thinking and saw a strange man on her doorstep. She promptly had a heart attack and died. The man was selling encyclopedias.

There were no clues, no evidence, for the most part, there were no signs of forced entry. The women showed no signs of struggle. Noth
The first four women killed had been elderly, frugal, tidy, and quiet. They lived their lives under the radar, did their work, paid their taxes. They were all found similarly strangled, with a special knot connecting each murder. There was no sign of forced entry, which meant every victim had willingly let their murderer into their little apartments. By the time the police began to realize a serial killer was responsible, the pattern changed and a series of young women were killed, in the same m ...more
Mar 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I am fortunate to be the youngest of five. I had two older brothers who were both avid readers and collected many books. One of them had purchased the paperback edition of this book in the late 1960s. One day in the summer of 1975 (I was twelve) I found it while rummaging through boxes of books in our basement. The cover illustration was an extreme close up of a menacing pair of eyes. The cover read "Look into this man's eyes. Would you trust him? Two thousand women did..." I remember thinking a ...more
Paul Gaya Ochieng Simeon Juma
Gerold Franks novel "The Boston Strangler" is engrossing, compulsive, and superb. Great reporting! The terror began in 1962 with the murder of Ann Seesler. It will take four years for the authorities to unravel and capture the man behind the murders which had the signature marks of stranglings and sexual assaults. It was like looking for a needle in a haystack. Boston, the city where the crimes were taking place, became like a city created by a mad playwright for the theater of the absurd. Newsp ...more
I am having a very hard time rating this book. I would have given it three and a half stars, it's better than ok, but not as good as four star book. First off, I knew nothing about the Boston Strangler. The story is fascinating and the author's writing style is very engaging. However, the book was written in 1966, but the story of the Boston Strangler doesn't end there. To find out where he ended up I had to Google him. It also FEELS like it was written in the 60's, where it was a shock to have ...more
Katherine Addison
The last sentence of this book is a lie:
But no matter what direction is taken by the law and those who act in its behalf--determined to protect the rights of society, yet equally determined to protect the rights of the individual--the story of the Boston Stranglings has ended.

Even when he wrote it in 1966, Frank must have known it was a lie. There were too many loose ends, too many contradictions. It wasn't until 2013 that forensic evidence was able to conclusively prove Albert DeSalvo killed
Jim Dooley
Nov 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An absolutely fascinating read from an exceptional writer. Although written in the 1960's, the story of the hunt for this serial killer is as fresh as if it was written yesterday.

Truman Capote successfully experimented with presenting a true crime tale in a narrative format with IN COLD BLOOD. Gerold Frank has a different approach. Instead of writing this primarily as a police procedural or from the point of view of the murderer, he broadens his scope to include the community response and the ma
Dec 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is masterful writing, taut and shocking, from the start to the very finish.

This book takes a complete 360 degree perspective to the Boston Strangler phenomenon (unlike any serial killer book you would have ever read, or any serial killer movie you would have seen, and yes, I include David Fincher's Zodiac). Right from the victims, to the investigators, to the newspapers, to reporters, to people on the road. It is a fascinating read on just how fear (or fascination!) spread through the zeit
Feb 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book was utterly fascinating and yet totally creeped me out. I liked that this book was written in 1966 not long after Desalvo was arrested. However, in the years since there has been doubt that Desalvo really was the Boston Strangler since he was never convicted -thus the crimes were never solved. In 1973 DeSalvo was killed in prison and in 2013 DeSalvo's body was exhumed for the second time in an attempt to match DNA. Crazy stuff!
Jul 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
Book Review originally published here:

I first heard about The Boston Strangler – the man, not the book – through a true crime TV show, the name of which I can’t recall. However, even back then, I was wary of Albert DeSalvo being the murderer. DeSalvo wasn’t a good guy by any means, but capable of such murders? And why? Anyone who investigates the strangler case knows that it’s a weird one: eleven (or thirteen) murders by strangling, using nylon stockings
Aug 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: true-crime
I received this book from the publisher and Net Galley for review. It is an older book on the subject of the "Boston Strangler", and was written prior to the actual trial and conviction of Albert DeSalvo. The first portion of the book was dedicated to the actual murders, that occurred in the early 1960s, and the victims. Of import was the psycho-analysis of a very trusting female population, who, despite the knowledge of a killer on the loose in the city, opened up their homes to a strange man. ...more
Nov 10, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I. Give. Up.
The author just vomited all the information on Strangler case on the page. Every false lead gets discussed in-depth, including the biographies of everyone involved. Nobody needs to know that much. In a non-fiction book I expect some...well editing. The author choosing what information is relevant and how much space should be dedicated to it. Now you can obviously always argue about how much authors can make their point by emphasizing/leaving out certain pieces of information but I th
Jan 10, 2017 rated it it was ok
The point that is exhaustively made by the author is how difficult it was to catch this guy. I don't think it was necessarily to spend over 100 pages walking the reader through every single false lead that the police chased. Certain aspects were interesting but you are forced through long pointless walks to get there. The bits about the psychics were interesting though if only for the fact that their readings were tracked down as leads by police at the time.
Mar 22, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: true-crime
The Boston Strangler was such a prominent case at the time it was happening and the world heard about it.

This novel written by Gerold Frank about horrible crimes committed by one man is told without gore and shock, but rather aims at giving only the truth about human nature. How sad that some of us humans can commit such heinous crimes.

Nov 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Gripping but about 100 pages too long; the pages and pages of interviews with DeSalvo were terribly dull, retreading old ground unnecessarily. Additionally, amused by the concept of the Boston police believing in a genuine "homosexual hierarchy" in their city. The 1960s must have been bizarre.
Jack Heath
Oct 22, 2018 marked it as to-read
Synopsis: Albert deSalvo murdered thirteen women and held Boston in an icy grip of terror for eighteen months between 1962 and 1964.
Susan Elmore
Sep 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nf-true-crime
This was the first true crime book that I ever read and the one that started my fascination with the genre.
I enjoyed this book greatly and it stands up well to re-reading. Imagine my surprise when I learned that most people who ought to know consider it to be fiction.
Michael W.
Mar 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
The True story? More a reasonable and readable account of the facts. No analysis, just the facts. It was worth the read just for those facts. He started out as the Measuring Man. Accosting women with a measuring tape to get the women’s stats. There are good descriptions of police technique; real cop stuff. No overly dramatic fantasy unrealistic solutions or filler chase scenes. Check all of the taxi fares in the area of the murders, only one will fit, the weird one. The man that looked guilty us ...more
James Glass
Sep 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Gerold Frank tells the true story of The Boston Strangler. Between 1962-1964, the Boston Strangler, later identified as Albert DeSalvo, wreaked havoc in Boston. At the time, murder wasn't something the American People were used to and the brutality of the killings in Boston frightened not only Bostonian's, but everyone in America. Frank is able to capture each crime scene, the detectives working the case, and the life of DeSalvo.
Kim Stiegel
Oct 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Would have been much better without the detours into (minor spoiler) consulting with psychics to try to catch the killer - I thought that made the book much longer than it needed to be and detracted from an otherwise good story. A simple summary of the psychics' and cranks' involvement would have been sufficient.
May 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a great story for giving so many good leads for the cops that you begin to think you'll solve it before they do, by incarcerating all of them for being degenerate enough to do it together as a gang or separately just to be safe by good measure.
Nov 15, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's getting 3 stars only for the fascinating details of how he so easily charmed his way into the women's apartments. The book would have been much better if the author would have streamlined the info. It was weighed down by so much minutia, I couldn't wait for it to end.
May 24, 2017 rated it liked it
3-1/2 ⭐ ...more
Oct 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful book

I've read more recent books about the Strangler. They tend to think others were the killers. I'm glad I finally read this classic. After reading the book and watching the DiNatale video on Amazon, plus the DNA evidence, I think DeSalvo is the killer. I only wish the book had photos.
John Cornelius
Sep 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: true-crime
Reads like work of fiction. The details of the crimes were brutal. Very fascinating looking into the other likely suspects apart from the actual killer. A really good book.
Janet Assen
Jan 13, 2019 rated it did not like it
Didn't finish. It was very boring and dry.
James Carter
Aug 24, 2016 rated it liked it
There are nearly no books written about The Boston Strangler, but Gerold Frank's The Boston Strangler is the most definitive account of the murders from 1962 to 1964 in and around Boston because it was written in 1966 with the aid of the people directly involved in the case.

In fact, if you google anything about Albert DeSalvo, most of the information is lifted from this book. Any further than that, there is absolutely nothing else save for the recent positive DNA match. That's why the book was
I know I have to take a break from true crime sooner or later, but this kept getting recommended as a good example of the genre, and then I noticed a newly released ebook version from Open Road Integrated Media on Netgalley. I wasn't even particularly interested in this story. I read Sebastian Junger's A Death in Belmont years ago when it first came out, and that's all I really knew about the Boston Strangler. And I wasn't impressed. I can't even remember why now but I really didn't like it. So ...more
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Gerold Frank was an American author and ghostwriter. He wrote several celebrity memoirs and was considered a pioneer of the "as told to" form of (auto)biography. His two best-known books,[citation needed] however, are The Boston Strangler (1966), which was adapted as the 1968 movie starring Tony Curtis and Henry Fonda, and An American Death (1972), about the assassination of Martin Luther King.