Friday, October 01, 2010

100 Days of Fantasy, Day 53

This series looks at books that have influenced me as a fantasy author.

by Robert Graysmith

ZodiacIn Cold Blood by Truman Capote has long been my favorite true crime book, but Zodiac is my second favorite.

Unlike In Cold Blood, which is told in a narrative similar to that of a novel, Zodiac reads like the more traditional true crime books, as journalism. The author lays out the events in order that they happened, follows up with law enforcement's search for the Zodiac serial killer in California in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and has several chapters on possible suspects.

I say "possible suspects" because the Zodiac killer was never caught. He was never even identified. Though there have been a handful of suspects over the years, no individual has ever been shown to actually have been the Zodiac killer.

What makes this case even more interesting is that the killer had numerous correspondences with police and the media, mailing letters and sometimes even evidence.

And in the end, no on really knows how many people the Zodiac killer murdered. Approximately half a dozen victims have been confirmed, with a couple of people actually surviving brutal attacks. But the killer himself (yes, there is enough evidence to say the killer was a male), often claimed to have killed many more.

Another mystery to this true-life tale is that the killer's notes and letters to police and the media stopped coming during the mid-70s, and no more crimes were confirmed as those of the Zodiac. Did he keep killing? Did he die? Was he jailed for another crime? Or did he merely move and take his murderous ways elsewhere?

We don't know. No one seems to know. We probably never will.

The writing here is solid, as Graysmith is a former journalist, and he keeps the reader's interest high throughout. Eventually the author wrote another book, Zodiac Unmasked, which points out the evidence for Graysmith's personal beliefs about the killer's identity, but I've yet to read this one.

Up next: AD&D 1st Edition Dungeon Master's Guide


Charles Gramlich said...

True crime is one of the very few genres that I almost never read in. Just too real for me.

Ty Johnston said...

I know what you mean. I've read a few true crime books that have shaken me up for a while with some of the awful things that have happened. I usually don't read them so much for entertainment (outside of In Cold Blood just because the writing is so good), but consider it research for my horror writing. If that makes sense.