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E. Bernard

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Excellent true crime read

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-09-15

This is a thorough and in depth story of a complicated family dynamic. I appreciate the level of research and background the author did and provided in the book. I never fail to be impressed with that type of worth ethic, especially with true crime books. If you appreciate the type of true crime that really digs in, this audiobook is for you. Also, the narrator does a fantastic job as well. very easy to listen to.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Unimpressed

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
2 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-02-14

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

Had the writer not narrated the story. I found his slight drawl to be a distraction.

How the book was written. I didn't care for the book being in the first person - where the writer would refer to people in the book as "my father," "my grandfather," "my mother." It didn't give the book a sense of being unbiased (which, to me, affects the credibility).

A LOT less religious rhetoric. I understand the author comes from a Christian background and there are some connections through Van's father being a pastor, but it smacks hard. A lot of heathen talk and "the devil within" sort of stuff (like you get the sense that the author views San Francisco as a den of iniquity, which is broad in scope and tiresome).

Has The Most Dangerous Animal of All turned you off from other books in this genre?

No. True crime is my favorite genre of literature and with audiobooks. I will probably stick to authors who are more experts in their field verses someone who

Would you be willing to try another one of Gary L. Stewart’s performances?

No.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Most Dangerous Animal of All?

The book is slow and laboring. The author focuses a substantial amount of time on his adoption and spends more time on his adoptive parents' story than he does on Zodiac evidence and analysis. I ended up fast forwarding through that content (I listened to this as an audiobook) because it is irrelevant to the story, in my opinion.

Any additional comments?

I purchased this book based on strong reviews and a long standing interest in The Zodiac case.

My father grew up in a neighboring community where some of The Zodiac crimes took place. His childhood fascination became a family interest and we have read all the Robert Graysmith works on the Zodiac (who was not only there when it occurred but conducted substantial and thorough research). Obviously, it doesn't make me an expert or a detective or anything like that, but I think I can say with some confidence what sort of book and research at least provides somewhat compelling evidence on who was The Zodiac.

That being said, the evidence that the author's father, Van, was The Zodiac was tenuous at best. I was underwhelmed with the evidence and/or links. Throughout the book, the author would refer to The Zodiac as "my dad," "my father," or "Van." Gives me the impression that the author assumed if he said his father's name enough, the listeners/readers would begin to believe it. Just because you say so doesn't make it so. He made gross assumptions and leaps in trying to connect his father to these crimes. Any contacts with victims or placement during the crimes are not fleshed out, whatsoever. The strongest connections (like the Church of Satan or the code writing) still missed some links to bring it full circle. I am not sure how possible it would've been to investigate what his father was really up to in the 1960s and 1970s, but I would have appreciated more context in order to be more convinced.

Stewart: 0
Zodiac: 1

0 of 2 people found this review helpful