Paul Pessolano's Reviews > The Laughing Gorilla: A True Story of Police Corruption and Murder

The Laughing Gorilla by Robert Graysmith
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Feb 20, 2011

it was ok

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 laughing as he left the scene of the crime. He was also given the title "gorilla" because it was discovered that he had huge hands that were used to strangle his victims. He also was noted as having a simian type build and walk.

The book traces the efforts of law enforcement to find the killer. Finding him became very difficult in that he was believed to be a sailor. He became what may have been the first traveling serial killer, murdering women on the east coast as well as the west coast.

A determined detective, Charles Dullea, from San Francisco headed the investigation that was not resolved until 1940.

The book not only concerns itself with "The Laughing Gorilla" but also details several other prominent crimes during this time. Some of which authorities thought might have some connection to the Gorilla investigation.

Graysmith does go into some detail about the incredible amount of corruption that was prevelent in the San Francisco Police Department at this time.

"The Laughing Gorilla" will be of most interest to those who like the true crime genre. Although well told, the story at times moves slowly - but then again so does some police work.
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