• The Misbegotten Son

  • By: Jack Olsen
  • Narrated by: Kevin Pierce
  • Length: 18 hrs and 11 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (1,944 ratings)

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The Misbegotten Son  By  cover art

The Misbegotten Son

By: Jack Olsen
Narrated by: Kevin Pierce
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Publisher's summary

An account of the crimes of Arthur Shawcross describes how the paroled child killer shot, stabbed, suffocated, and strangled 16 Rochester, New York, prostitutes and examines how the legal system failed his victims.

©2014 Jack Olsen (P)2015 Evan Olsen, Su Olsen

What listeners say about The Misbegotten Son

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Not the Typical True Crime Book

Any additional comments?

As this narrative begins, you aren't sure whose story this is. It starts with Jack, the first victim of Arthur Shawcross. Throughout the book, the author gives us the stories of the victims and their families, as well as the perspectives of the detectives, Shawcross's lovers, wives, and mother. The result is as fully a realized picture of the madman as can be had.

Even with all of the detail, it is clear that the author--and nobody else for that matter--understood what made this serial killer tick. Child rape and murder, murder and mutilation of prostitutes, cannibalism, and necrophilia--this man did it all, and at the end no one is sure why. Even the murderer himself seems baffled by his crimes.

Compared to the Green River Running Red and BTK, two books I've recently read about serial murderers, this book left me feeling more remote from the killer and his crimes. The reader was never given entrance into Shawcross's head in the same way as we were allowed to examine Gary Ridgeway and Dennis Rader. At the end of Misbegotten Son, a psychiatrist gives two theories about how a man like Arthur Shawcross could have developed, and I think that his ideas are an interesting perspective, but not a conclusion.

Narrating this book must have been incredibly demanding. The diverse formats (interview, letter, testimony, written account, etc.) combined with an overcrowded cast of perspectives to make this engaging for the reader--but a nightmare for the man tasked with giving them all voice! Kevin Pierce, as always, did a magnificent job. He was able to portray both sides of Arthur Shawcross: the altruistic, childlike outdoors-man and the sadistic, victim-blaming, rage filled murderer. Especially in the portions of the text where Shawcross is describing his crimes in written or audio-recorded accounts, Pierce uses his talents to illustrate the murderer as a petulant lunatic with a sub-normal IQ without creating a caricature.

Non-fiction of any kind does not lend itself to an overly dramatized style of narration. That's why Kevin Pierce is one of my favorites; his is always a subtle yet engaging narration that illuminates rather than dramatizes the characters.

This book has everything: the gory details, the heart-rending effects of a murderous rampage on the victims' and the murderer's families, and the history and analysis of what makes a killer. Even with all that, though, the book generates as many questions as answers.

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77 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Reads like a novel, very well written.

Any additional comments?

Jack Olsen was/is at the very high end of the true crime genre, and with this book dug very deep into the big Why of a horrible horrible series of events. The author examines the old cracks in the system that should have protected the citizens of NY state, and it's both heartbreaking and infuriating to think about.

This book made me queasy in spots - fortunately those sections turned out to be the killer's sick fantasies. (As if the truth of his actions wasn't disturbing enough). Kevin Pierce is terrific at reading true crime in particular, no overacting, excellent narration and the dialogue just sounds conversational, believable. Afterwards I felt compelled to see the killer interviewed on YouTube, and saw just how amazingly accurate Olsen's description of him was. All in all a real eye opener.

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51 people found this helpful

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Dynamic Duo

The combination of Jack Olsen and Kevin Pierce is as close to true crime Audible heaven as you can get. Jack Olsen is able to go into immense details about the criminal, the crimes and the victims without bogging down the pace and readability of the story. It's no wonder he has such respect among other true crime authors. He's quite simply the best in my view. After thoroughly enjoying my 4th book with the Olsen and Pierce duo, I was compelled to finally write a review, which I typically don't do, in the hopes others will discover their work. Finally, Pierce is a master narrator, with or without Olsen.

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24 people found this helpful

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Clear and well-written, held my interest throughout

This is such an unfortunate story-such a poor job done by the legal system.
Jack Olsen, however, did a good job telling this story. It is graphic, because Shawcross' crimes were graphic. I never became bored w the story because it never got 'bogged down' w unnecessary legalese or tangential stories that took the focus off Shawcross.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Olsen & Pierce always awesome together

Olsen & Pierce are two of the very best. If you like true crime then this is a must read/listen.

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13 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Great story!

I hadn't heard of art shawcross until I read this book, it is an amazing book. I can't believe the stupidity of the women who have been with this guy. Idiots. The book really illustrates the hardships of the prostitutes in the story, and does a great job of showing the girls as human beings.

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13 people found this helpful

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I may have found a new g

This was my first foray into true crime. I wasn't sure what to expect, but as an avid watcher of Investigation Discovery I was right at home. Surprisingly I was never bored even though it was just focused on one person. Pierce has one of those pleasant voices that still exudes authority without being abrasive. Olsen has clearly done his research and weaves a compelling illustration of the tragedy that was the life and actions of Arthur John Shawcross. Having no other experience with the genre for comparison I cannot tell you if this is an exceptional true crime experience or not/ Regardless I enjoyed it immensely. This audiobook was provided by the author, narrator, or publisher at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review courtesy of Audiobook Blast.

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What a Monster!

As I was told by the narrator when he gifted me this copy, this one is a monster. He was not lying! This story retells the life story of Aurthur Shawcross, who murdered 16 prostitutes in Rochester. NY after his release from prison for murdering a young girl (who he raped as well, as well as murdering a young boy he was never charged with). This guy was a true monster, a guy people thought was 'off' from a young age. This book covers his life, and his interactions with his wives, lovers and family, telling the story from multiple perspectives, and giving a well rounded look at this waste of human life. The narrative is well done, with lots of chilling details, including some from interviews conducted with the murderer himself. ONe of the best true crime books I've ever listened to.
Kevin Pierce nails the narration. Not a flashy kind of narrator, he just tells the story in a straight forward, no nonsense manner, which must have been difficult considering the subject matter. I would have needed a shower after having to read aloud what this guy did to those poor people, but Kevin nailed it down tight. Anyone who likes true crime books should definitely check this one out.

I was gited a copy of this book by the narrator at no cost in return for an honest review though Audiobookblast dot com.

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11 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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I could NOT stop listening to this book!

Where does The Misbegotten Son rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Top Ten

What does Kevin Pierce bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

A voice I would listen to reading a grocery list- he's that good.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

ABSOLUTELY

Any additional comments?

Fantastic book! Olsen doesn't just write a retelling of the crime's facts, he delves into how, why and who each action, event and victim/investigator/relative in the story was. An examination of the sad consequences that a faulty system, poverty, ignorance, poor mental health resources and addiction can result in when combined in one human being. More riveting than most fictional crime stories; told in a manner unlike any other true crime novel I've ever read. Don't miss this book!

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10 people found this helpful

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Good Read

Fantastic book. Great writing. may differs characters are in this book but I never got lost. Narrator did a great job.

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9 people found this helpful