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!
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 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.
Sadly what could have been an engrossing true crime book turned out to be a below average attempt on the part of the author. I was immediately annoyed with the insertion of what Gacy's last victim was thinking minutes before he was murdered... really? How did the author come up with the thoughts of the poor victim? I thought this was a true crime book, not historical fiction. I was also put off by the amount of bleeding heart preaching done on the part of the author (Gacy's attorney). What more can be expected from a Chicago trial lawyer? Though there was some new light shed in this book, the overall performance left much to be desired.
Perhaps. But, I have to admit that it seemed more appropriate to hear "This is a Librivox recording", rather than, "This is Audible". There were some distracting long pauses in the middle of sentences and then an ejaculatory finishing of the sentence, for example... "The detectives walked across........THE STREET". This sort of thing was a real bother at first but I got used to it after a few hours.
John Wayne Gacy. It would have been better if he'd never been born.
The book wasn't complete trash, but it was a big disappointment.
Say something about yourself!
I really enjoyed the smooth tone of Robin Bloodworth, his voice was easy on the ears.
The fact that we heard a pretty decent description of what it is like to defend someone so sick. I have always wondered how someone could take on a case like this and now I know. Did John Wayne Gacy deserve the best defense I don't know but in America this is what we pride ourselves on I guess.
I cannot answer that question just relief there was no question on whether this guy was indeed guilty, that made it easier knowing he wouldn't walk away from the carnage he left behind.
A lot of sadness for the parents that lost there sons to this sadistic four letter word.
I would feel compelled to justify my defense of a criminal such as Gacy if I had been his defense attorney. Glad he wrote a book, he seemed to be a reasonable enough guy someone had to do the job. I also have to say I am relieved this book did not cover to many gory details making the book stomach-able, when I purchased the book I was prepared to shut it off if it got to personal on the horrible details it was moderate on that level.
Avid reader of history, biography, and true crime.
This book is probably more interesting for Law students and practitioners than for true crime aficionados. I understand why the authors belabor the point about everyone, no matter how appalling the crime/s, having the right to a fair trial. Clearly a large section of the public was hostile to the idea of the apparently indefensible being defended - but the repetition of the point leaves the book sounding as though the authors' reason for writing it is self-justification and little more. Overall the book gets a higher rating that it might otherwise because of the outstanding narration by Robin Bloodworth - a truly 5-star performance.
First off, the narrator did a phenomenal job with all the various characters/players in this story. And the parts about Gacy -- whom I was really too young at the time to know other than as a famous name, like Dahmer, Manson, Bundy, or Berkowitz -- and his crimes are fascinating. However, I felt as though the author went on ad nauseum justifying how he could be a defense attorney, how he could defend in court Gacy, and try to get him off or at least innocent by reason of insanity. I'm not saying it's not justified, far from it and Amirante makes the case eloquently for the right to a defense. The problem is that he makes the point over and over again.
Also, the book could have used some serious editing, the second half is taken up with the actual trial, and it really dragged towards the end. Also, Amirante comes off as a bit of an a-hole, very quick to call people idiots and the like.
As with all of the true crime books I've been reading lately, I went into this one knowing very little beyond the fact that John Gacy had killed a lot of people. But there is so much more to the story.
So many times while watching the news, I've remarked to my husband that I don't understand who in their right mind would defend some of the vicious, despicable people in this world, that there was no way in hell that I'd do it. After reading this book, I understand.
My feelings about John Gacy are quite complicated. If you have a brain and a heart, you'll understand by the time you get to the end of this book.
I must say that the narrator managed to make my skin crawl more than once, as he 'acted' out the part of Gacy.
I can't really write a review that will do this book justice. Suffice it to say that this one will stick with me for a while, and not for the reasons I would have thought before I started it.
I have to agree with at least one other review of the book. The book definitely aims for readers who have an interest in the legal aspects of Gacy’s life. At times, the authors take you through painstaking details that do less to paint a picture, and do more to slow down the flow of the book.
My biggest issue of the book may seem arbitrary to some. The narrator did not pronounce, “Des Plaines” correctly. If you are not from the Chicago area, it will not bother you. It is like the one co-worker who ALWAYS mispronounces your name. At the end of the day, this is not a deal breaker. However, it sure does get irritating.
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.
"well worth a read"
Love this book....listen to it time and time again....novel take coming from the defence side of things....give it a go
"Very detailed account of a very evil crazy maniac"
Excellent detailed storytelling and well worth the money.
I would compare this book to 'The Iceman'
"Half horror Half courtroom drama "
I found this fascinating. It went into what Gacy did and the battle his lawyers had in court to prove he was insane
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