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The Laughing Gorilla: The True Story of the Hunt for One of America's First Serial Killers

3.18  ·  Rating details ·  61 Ratings  ·  10 Reviews
During the 1920s, in more than a dozen cities, over four years, and across two continents, women were being butchered. Eyewitneses claim the perpetrator was a hulking Bible-carrying brute who lumbered on all fours, and laughed maniacally with each new slaughter.

The crimes haunted San Francisco Police Captain Charles Dullea, the last honest cop in one of the most notoriou
Paperback, 400 pages
Published October 5th 2010 by Berkley (first published 2009)
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This book is non-fiction, true-crime. I added the tag ‘historical’ because the crimes took place in the 1920s, so in addition to reading about a crime (or in this case a series of crimes) one also learns about San Francisco in this decade.

The author covers the lifestyle of the time and the differences in police procedure. He includes some trivia, he explains why police cars are called ‘growlers’. The San Francisco police department was very corrupt, the author also covers this. Captain Charles D
Dec 22, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: criminal-justice
This is a fascinating piece of writing. It is exceedingly difficult to create readable and enjoyable no fiction, and particularly when one is travelling into the past. Graysmith carries this off brilliantly and with brio.

That being said I would have attributed the top 5 stars and was hesitant but there are places in the book where it does seem to drag a bit, particularly the first 69 pages or so. Additionally, while very precise historically, I had to keep thumbing back through the index to remi
Paul Pessolano
Robert Graysmith is known for his many true crime stories. He is primarily known for his book "Zodiac" which was the story of the Zodiac killer. Three of his books have been made into major motion pictures.

In "The Laughing Gorilla" Graysmith goes back in time to 1926 in the San Francisco Bay area. A series of heinous crimes have been committed and the victims have been dismembered and cut up as if they were being autopsied.

The murderer received his name because after every murder he was noted as
May 13, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
An Edward G. Robinson, Untouchables, cops'n'gangsters kind of book. I think Robert Graysmith was writing with an eye toward a screenplay at all times. Very over-the-top florid descriptions, it is almost zany in its portrayal of a corrupt police force and this phantom "Gorilla Man", who apparently is Gorilla "Men". Each chapter begins with increasingly absurd quotes about gorillas or crime detection of the time (the 1930s). Some nice descriptive language about 1930s San Francisco and the Embarcad ...more
Oct 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Gorilla Man was the first serial killer to travel from place to place. After strangling a woman, he would proceed to violate her dead body. Onlookers who saw this beast attacking a woman, said that he laughed like a lunatic and he appeared to be an apelike figure. Most of his victims made the mistake of letting people know that they had a room available in their home.

Charles Dullea was an honest man and the police captain in San Francisco. He's probably the only honest man on the police forc
Dec 30, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorite genres - historical true-crime stories. As I have liked other books by this author, and the subjects he writes about, I was primed for a great read. Hollywood backs up my view of this author's material as several of his works have been made into movies.

This book was a disappointment. I loved the subject matter, early-mid 20th Century murders and police corruption in my hometown of San Francisco. I loved the descriptions of the newspaper personalities. I learned a lot about SF
Thomas Burchfield
If I had not been reading it for research and its vivid portrayal of San Francisco's waterfront in the 1920s through the early 1940s, I might not have finished this one. Robert Graysmith is author of the true-crime classic "The Zodiac" and he seems to be trying for the same grim magic here, but to me, he fails. It's a badly misfocused book that feels hurriedly written (though the author claims to have spent six years on it.) The real story here--a Serpico-type tale of an honest heroic cop in a t ...more
Incredible! Graysmith takes you all over the United States and parts of Canada, following the trail left by such enlightened souls as Earle Nelson, known in the press as the Gorilla Murderer, and the Cleveland Torso Murderer. He threads them all together and highlights them as a totally new element in society. He also gives you a taste of how baffling and frustrating it is to be a policeman in an era of runaway corruption and graft, as the era of bootleggers gives way to the era of the serial ki ...more
Surfing Moose
Just didn't grab me and found the writing to be missing something also.
Burt Schoeppe
Nov 04, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: psychopaths
Not the most interesting. Kinda light on the story of finding the killer so there is a random side story on corruption in the SFPD. Odd book.
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Robert Graysmith was born in Pensacola, Florida as Robert Gray Smith. He changed his name to Graysmith in 1976.

Graysmith is a true-crime author of the books Zodiac; Zodiac Unmasked: The Identity of America's Most Elusive Serial Killer; Unabomber: A Desire to Kill; The Sleeping Lady: The Trailside Murders Above the Golden Gate; The Murder of Bob Crane: Who Killed the Star of Hogan's Heroes; The Bel
More about Robert Graysmith...