Shane Stevens,
By Reason of Insanity
(Chicago Review Press, 2007)

Thomas Bishop/Vincent Mungo is THE most heinous killer ever committed to print, all the more so because he appears to be an all-American, apple-cheeked, tousle-haired young man. He's a complete psychopath who believes he's on a mission to kill women. And what he does with the bodies ... well, the book leaves a lot of that up to the imagination, but it must be pretty awful.

The book is an epic, beginning a generation before the killer's career and bringing in a huge array of cops, reporters, psychologists and politicians (usually with self-serving agendas) who are part of the nationwide manhunt. The book is written in the dry, clinical prose of standard nonfiction, which makes it even more chilling. No purple prose at all.

No book has ever better described the kind of horrifying childhood abuse (his mother is a real piece of work, as frightening in her own way as her son) that creates psychopathic killers.

By Reason of Insanity is absolutely fascinating, but profoundly disturbing. I lent it to my brother, a tough customer, and even he was shaken by it. Forget Norman Bates and Hannibal Lecter. Vincent Mungo's the real deal.

book review by
Dave Sturm

29 January 2011

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