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Publisher's Summary

As acclaimed psychological researcher and author David Buss writes, "People are mesmerized by murder. It commands our attention like no other human phenomenon, and those touched by its ugly tendrils never forget." Though we may like to believe that murderers are pathological misfits and hardened criminals, the vast majority of murders are committed by people who, until the day they kill, would seem to be perfectly normal.

David Buss's pioneering work has made major national news in the past, and this provocative book is sure to generate a storm of attention. The Murderer Next Door is a riveting look into the dark underworld of the human psyche, an astonishing exploration of when and why we kill and what might push any one of us over the edge. A leader in the innovative field of evolutionary psychology, Buss conducted an unprecedented set of studies investigating the underlying motives and circumstances of murders, from the bizarre outlier cases of serial killers to those of the friendly next-door neighbor who one day kills his wife.

Reporting on findings that are often startling and counterintuitive, the younger woman involved in a love triangle is at a high risk of being killed, he puts forth a bold new general theory of homicide, arguing that the human psyche has evolved specialized adaptations whose function is to kill. Taking readers through the surprising twists and turns of the evolutionary logic of murder, he explains exactly when each of us is most at risk, both of being murdered and of becoming a murderer. His findings about the high-risk situations alone will be news making.

©2005 David M. Buss; (P)2005 Tantor Media, Inc.

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  • Overall
  • Ellen
  • Kansas City, MO, United States
  • 03-02-09

Stays with me

I am writing this review a couple of years after listening to this book. I didn't like some of the things the book said one little bit, but I had to admit they were probably true. The book opened my eyes to things I had been in denial about. Here are a few of the things that stayed with me: Reputation is vitally important in mate value. People will try to harm your reputation and it does work. Female chastity is valued (according to evolutionary psychology, that is.) If you think someone is scheming to poach your mate they just might be. There are people who set out to poach desirable mates on purpose. All the people who resort to violence in order to defend their reputations after a "dissing" such as their mate being poached--that's not just b.s. (according to the book) it impacts one's mate value if they are seen in the community as a loser who let their mate be poached. All these ugly things are part of human nature that we might sweep under the rug and tell ourselves they aren't true in the modern age...but they just might be. I wish I'd read this book a long time ago so I would have been more savvy (if less idealistic) about how some humans act and why....and my own (deeply buried!) murderous impulses and why I had them!!!

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Caroline
  • Morgan Hill, CA, USA
  • 09-12-05

Reminds me of a 80's filmstrip

What a wonderful and fascinating topic. Too bad it is as dry as a 1950's middle school filmstrip. I felt like the reader was just way out of his league with the topic, and approached the read as a thesis report. Please don't waste your time or money. Read/listen to Ann Rule instead!

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Kelly
  • 09-14-05

Good book, horrible reading.

I have literally bought hundreds of audio books on Audible and the reading of this book is by far the worst I have ever heard. It is quite possible that the topic is interesting, captivating even, but the narration and delivery is soulless, and insipid. I should have listened to the sample before purchasing, but it is hard to imagine a reading this bad. Try "Stiff" by Mary Roach instead if you like this genre.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

I liked it

Kept me listening. I've heard better, but not bad. It was one of the first books I listened to , so hard to say.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Jeff
  • Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
  • 07-15-09

Great evolutionary psychology book

This book does a great job of outlining the evolutionary advantages, and costs, of murder. I believe that Dr. Buss is bang-on with his conclusions. The book is a window into our own behaviour, even if you've never killed anyone. It exposes the reasons for many of the drives and anxieties I've felt in my past: competition with other males, jealousy, etc. Excellent book!

  • Overall
  • Teresa
  • Lombard, IL, USA
  • 09-29-05

The Murderer Next Door

Excruciatingly boring. Way too much evolutionary analysis. Literally put me to sleep.

3 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall


Psychologist David M. Buss offers "logical" reasons for murder based upon the evolution of man. He states that today we are still driven by impulses which were useful to the survival of our species millions of years ago. The author uses the gene-centered view of evolution (Richard Dawkins' "The Selfish Gene", 1976) to say that the genes of our ancestors who murdered are the ones which made it through the eons and live in us today.

Perhaps these theories have validity. Nevertheless, it is this reviewer's opinion that this is an oversimplification of complex behavior. One is hard pressed to believe that the widely differing circumstances surrounding murders can somehow all be explained in this narrow context.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Larry
  • Riverview, Florida United States
  • 04-08-11

A waste of my credit

As a man who loves true crime books and study of the criminal mind, this was a complete waste of my credit, of all the books on my wish list I wish I had never put this one on my wish list.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Jill
  • south setauket, NY, United States
  • 10-01-08

Long Winded

In theory this book sounded great, in listening to this book it was very long winded and boring.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Spurious knowledge of the research in this field

Buss, whose academic credentials are not listed, disparages current psychological theories about the etiology of murder while purporting to have developed an all-encompassing and flawless theory based on his review of evolutionary research. His smug tone and dismissive attitude toward any other explanation but his own wear thin very quickly. The content of this book may have been somewhat more palatable had another narrator, with a more animated style, been utilized.

1 of 5 people found this review helpful