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For weeks that fall, the body count of sexually violated, brutally murdered young women escalated. With increasing alarm, Los Angeles newspapers headlined the deeds of a serial killer they named the Hillside Strangler. The city was held hostage to fear. But not until January 1979, more than a year later, would the mysterious disappearance of two university students near Seattle lead police to the arrest of a security guard--the handsome, charming, fast-talking Kenny Bianchi--and the discovery that the strangler was not one man but two. Like Truman Capote in In Cold Blood and Norman Mailer in The Executioner's Song, Darcy O'Brien weds the narrative skill of an award-winning novelist with the detailed observations of an experienced investigator to unravel, in The Hillside Stranglers, the chilling true-crime story of Bianchi and his animally magnetic cousin Angelo Buono. Compellingly, O'Brien explores the symbiotic relationship between the two men, their lust for women as insatiable as their hate, before examining the crimes they remorselessly perpetrated and the lives of the unsuspecting victims they claimed. Equally riveting is O'Brien's account of the trial--one of the longest and most controversial criminal court cases in American history--with the defense team parading, one after another, expert witnesses who had been effectively duped by Bianchi's impersonation of a man suffering multiple personality disorder. It's one way a man might contrive to get away with murder.
"His was a sensibility in which sex, hate, and the lust for power were so intertwined as to be indistinguishable." Are you in the mood for reading about a real-life villain whose abuse of power was compared to that of Henry VIII? Look no further than this small community in West Tennessee, where a detestable judge used his influence over jobs and child custody cases to intimidate several women into a state of sexual victimization and emotional paralysis. Darcy O'Brien's writing is eloquently descriptive, with a good feeling for character--such as the heroic, yet humble, figure of an FBI agent who cares enough about the community to involve himself in local problems and bring the judge to trial. Power to Hurt is nominated for a 1997 Edgar Award.
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