Judge Sam L. Amirante and Danny Broderick’s John Wayne Gacy: Defending a Monster is an unforgettable work, a rare chilling glance behind the scenes of a universally well-known story, that of notorious serial killer John Wayne Gacy, Jr.
Amirante and Broderick, Gacy’s public defender, have constructed a gripping work that not only reveals for the first time new facts about one of America’s most infamous killers, but grapples with great questions of humanity, including the question of what it means to deserve defense - even if your crimes are as great as Gacy’s. Actor Robin Bloodworth’s performance is emotionally powerful and well-paced, and he excels especially at emphasizing those new elements of Gacy’s story which make this audiobook a must-listen.
For the first time Gacy’s lawyer and confidant tells his chilling tale of how he defended an American serial killer.
“Sam, could you do me a favor?”
Thus begins a story that has now become part of America's true-crime hall of fame. It is a gory, grotesque tale befitting a Stephen King novel. It is also a David and Goliath saga - the story of a young lawyer fresh from the public defender's office whose first client in private practice turns out to be the worst serial killer in our nation's history. This is a gripping true crime narrative that reenacts the gruesome killings and the famous trial that shocked a nation.
©2012 Sam L. Amirante and Danny Broderick (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
This audiobook ultimately rated 4 stars, although I did have some issues with it. However for the most part I was enthralled by the narrative of Gacy's defense lawyer's quest to give his client a fair trial. Most of it was extremely well written, and both interesting and engaging, even for someone familiar with this case. I found myself more interested in the defense lawyer's experiences than I would have expected. It is a bit of a shame that only a couple of murders were dealt with in any detail, although one senses that the authors wanted to refrain from repeating what had been written many times before. The book could have done with some editing most notably the last 2 hours which almost exclusively dealt with the closing arguments of both defense and prosecution. This entire section could have been cut, and made me less enthusiastic about a full star review. Another point I found irritating was the constant repetition of the author's argument that Gacy deserved a fair trial. I thought that the authors made a rather convincing and elegant argument in the introduction, based on the American Constitution's insurance of a fair trial for everyone, no matter how repugnant (as Gacy was). But the authors return again and again to re-word this argument and it beleaguered the point. I couldn't help thinking: Sir, thou doth protest too much! However the absolute BEST thing about this audiobook was the standout performance given by Robin Bloodworth. His portrayal of Gacy's confession to his lawyers was outstanding and riveting. He must surely have studied Gacy's affectations as he nailed it perfectly. On the whole this was an excellent book, and well worth the listen. Recommended!
I thought this would go into more detail about the legal process, but it kind of skimmed over the trial. The book mainly talked about JWG's quirks and personality problems, which was interesting enough. It didn't get too much into the gory details, which I appreciated.
One thing I didn't like, the attorney writing this often paused to wrap himself in the American Flag and rhapsodize about the right to a fair trial- A sentiment I wholeheartedly agree with, but he didn't need to beat it into the ground.
Robin Bloodworth's performance definitely sets the audio version apart from the print.
Being my first listen of a serial killer I can't make that comparison.
Bloodworth's voices and accents allow the listener to distinguish between the characters. The voice of "Gacy" is chilling. This was Bloodworth's first performance in my library, it most certainly will not be the last. Incredible.
Wait for the DVD!
I was drawn in immediately upon starting the audio and I could not wait to turn it back on. After the trial began I found myself wanting to skip ahead. At times there are aspects of the trial that are redundant and mundane.
College English professor who loves classic literature, psychology, neurology and hates pop trash like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey.
I came to the one I had been avoiding. Given the nature of his crimes, I find Gacy to be the most disgusting of the disgusting, and even thinking about what he did is not easy. This book is not easy. But it is professional, reportorial, direct. There are, mercifully, no attempts at sensationalism or inflating the importance of the unspeakable evil that was Gacy.
I thought this book was for me. I wanted to get some insight into what would cause a man to kill 33 teenagers. Instead I had to listen to the authors long winded essay for an English 101 course (make that English 98 course).
They moved away from the story. There were more accounts about bar room brawls, the flowing black gown of the judge and his glistening glasses. I had to stop listening because I'm sure a sex scene by the author would emerge.
The author who interjects himself into horrible story and poorly tries to make himself the author of the century, rather than writing about one of Americas worst serial killer. I could care less that you were the one that drank only 1 beer on a night out, and that the reporter was asleep during the brawl. What in the heck does that have to do with John Wayne Gacy!
"First part - great. Second part - dull"
Definitely a book of two halves. The first describing Gacy's lifestyle, crimes and capture is fascinating though clearly somewhat embellished in places (ie, he tells us what some of the victims were thinking!). The second half of the book concerns Gacy's trial and rather than focus on the detail of the case, there is far too much spiel about the various lawyers' personalities and the legal technicalities of the trial. It really falls down when the author repeatedly harps on about how the American Justice System is the best in the world, and even claims at one point it was only because it was so good Gacy was convicted. This, despite earlier detailing how Gacy at one point confessed his crimes to almost anyone who happened to be passing his cell!
A grim but fascinating story with real insight into the crimes, the US legal system and Gacy himself.
The book lost some momentum towards the end but on the whole it was a great listen and very well narrated. Recommended to anyone interested in True Crime.
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