Invisible Darkness: The Strange Case Of Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka Info

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Perfect for fans of Making a Murderer and The
People v. O. J. Simpson, Invisible Darkness
is the story of one
of the more bizarre cases in recent memory—killings so
sensational that they prompted the Canadian government, in the interests
of justice, to silence its national press and to lock foreign
journalists out of the courts.

To all appearances, Paul and
Karla Bernardo had a fairytale marriage: beautiful working-class girl
weds bright upper-middle-class guy and they buy a fashionable dream
house in the suburbs. But, bored with his straight, prestigious
accounting job, Paul soon went freelance as an international smuggler.
He also revealed his boredom with conventional sex—enough so that,
one Christmas Eve, he persuaded his wife to drug her own sister and
engage in a menage a trois, during which the sister died (a bungling
coroner ruled her death accidental). The couple then upped the ante,
kidnapping and imprisoning several high school girls for sexual
marathons, which they videotaped before savagely murdering their
captives. When the girls’ bodies were found, the police were
stymied (although Paul had been accused of rape and given a DNA test
that vanished for two years and only recently was linked to some fifty
sexual-assault cases) until Karla tried to have her husband arrested for
wife beating. During questioning, she confessed to the crimes and is
now serving two concurrent twelve-year sentences for manslaughter in
exchange for testifying against her husband, who was jailed for
life.

Average Ratings and Reviews
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Reviews for Invisible Darkness: The Strange Case Of Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka:

3

Aug 28, 2019

“Invisible Darkness: The Horrifying Case of Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka” by Stephen Williams tells the real-life, true-crime horror story that took place in the 90s. The author was one of the only journalists allowed in the court room, and he tells the story in its entirety, from the couple’s initial meeting, to their despicable crimes, right through to the court case and the verdict.

In 1992, I was ten years old. There was no Internet (as we know it today), and as such, I was sheltered from “Invisible Darkness: The Horrifying Case of Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka” by Stephen Williams tells the real-life, true-crime horror story that took place in the 90s. The author was one of the only journalists allowed in the court room, and he tells the story in its entirety, from the couple’s initial meeting, to their despicable crimes, right through to the court case and the verdict.

In 1992, I was ten years old. There was no Internet (as we know it today), and as such, I was sheltered from the horror that was happening just one town over. Due to Canadian rules around this case, a lot of the explicit court details were kept out of the press, as my hometown and its surrounding areas had never had anything more criminal than maybe a petty theft here or there, and, as can be expected, the region was pretty fired up. Today, these two abominations to the human race are still reviled and despised. In fact, Karla (I will not call her Ms. Homolka) cannot return to the province I live in, even though she is a “free” woman, due to the immeasurable amounts of death threats she still receives to this day.

My personal geographic connection to the murders’ is likely the reason I chose this novel as my first exposure to the “true crime” genre. My obsession with the way the mind of a psychopath works was desperate to be given more, so I started here at the suggestion of a random email I got suggesting “the top five novels on psychopaths”.

The beginning of Williams’ novels reads entirely different than the end. At the end, where Williams was actually present for the court case, it reads like a well-developed true crime novel. At the beginning, where Williams had no choice but to go on hyperbole and second- hand information, the novel was a little choppy to read, using sentences like “she had started going with this guy” and “Karla really liked Person A, he was super cool”. I felt like I was reading a story written by a twelve- year old, occasionally interspersed with big words they had looked up in a dictionary, but the information was fascinating and I was able to overlook the juvenile telling.

Once the adult-sized Williams took over, the story was a little more cohesive with a better flow. Both characters are examined in detail, along with their obviously damaged personal histories. The novel provided me with information that has been purposely kept from Canadian media, and of course, that is the most fascinating bit.

The mismanagement of this case by every legal, governmental and even policing body in this area does not give me confidence, and in fact, this is still a matter that is joked about today.

Overall, this novel provided me with a solid sojourn into the true crime genre. It obviously had a powerful effect on me (knowing I had been to some of the places as the killers was creepy, and finding out the body parts of one of the victims had been buried merely kilometres away from my front door was even worse) , but the in-depth look into the minds of two of the most notorious Canadian psychopaths was just what I was looking for. A solid 3.5 stars for the disjointed nature of the novel, but definitely worth a read.
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5

May 04, 2016

This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Oh my lord. I like to boast about America doing things bigger and better but you aren't playing around with your serial killers, Canada. I first heard about Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka from my husband who gave me the basics of the story which of course led to a wikipedia rabbit hole situation and eventually led to me reading Stephen Williams's classic work about the couple, the crimes, and all that those involve. The book is a narrative written in HIGHLY GRAPHIC play by play detail from Oh my lord. I like to boast about America doing things bigger and better but you aren't playing around with your serial killers, Canada. I first heard about Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka from my husband who gave me the basics of the story which of course led to a wikipedia rabbit hole situation and eventually led to me reading Stephen Williams's classic work about the couple, the crimes, and all that those involve. The book is a narrative written in HIGHLY GRAPHIC play by play detail from accounts, letters, and the infamous videotapes; I read parts of the book out loud to my husband when I was extra grossed out only to see him almost gag in horror.

Go away if you don't want to be spoiled.

Further.


Keep going.


OK. These puppies are sick. Like. HER OWN SISTER? I am horrified just thinking about it. And just everything. I mean, I sent my husband a text that was slightly in jest but honestly, I knew that Paul Bernardo was a fucking monster when I read that the person he looked up to and wanted to most be like was Vanilla Ice. Yes. Vanilla Ice. Like, you can't make this shit up.

And Karla, well, yeah. I knew she was sick as soon as she began "encouraging" her boyfriend to rape women. Oh and when she offered up her 15 year old virgin sister as a "wedding present" to Paul. Oh and like a bunch of other girls she did this to. Oh and the fact that the thing most upsetting about one of the rape/murders was that Paul and one of their victims drank from the couple's "special champagne glasses." I mean. I am spinning off the planet here.

In conclusion, actual monsters in Niagara here, people. Oh and in case you were wondering the cops are as useless as ever. ...more
4

Nov 01, 2007

This book is really infuriating, actually, because Homolka, who was probably more culpable than Bernardo and should have spent the rest of her life in a supermax (uh, hello, she helped rape and kill her own sister!), got away with a relative slap on the wrist because the authorities were too goddamn stupid to believe that a woman could be anything but a poor innocent abused victim of a man. Last I looked, she was out of prison, remarried, with a kid of her own. That should scare the hell out of This book is really infuriating, actually, because Homolka, who was probably more culpable than Bernardo and should have spent the rest of her life in a supermax (uh, hello, she helped rape and kill her own sister!), got away with a relative slap on the wrist because the authorities were too goddamn stupid to believe that a woman could be anything but a poor innocent abused victim of a man. Last I looked, she was out of prison, remarried, with a kid of her own. That should scare the hell out of anyone reading this, trust me. Gotta love those gender stereotypes, yessir! ...more
5

Mar 26, 2008

It is very difficult to write a true crime novel in this day and age without having it be sensationalist, and I won't go so far as to say that Williams has achieved Helter Skelter levels of journalistic integrity with Invisible Darkness, but the fact of the matter is that for true crime, this is a well-written piece. The case itself is fascinating from the get-go, and the author pulls no punches as he narrates the compelling depravity from as far back as he could reach. I've read hundreds of It is very difficult to write a true crime novel in this day and age without having it be sensationalist, and I won't go so far as to say that Williams has achieved Helter Skelter levels of journalistic integrity with Invisible Darkness, but the fact of the matter is that for true crime, this is a well-written piece. The case itself is fascinating from the get-go, and the author pulls no punches as he narrates the compelling depravity from as far back as he could reach. I've read hundreds of books in the genre and something about this one will always place it in my top ten list. ...more
3

May 22, 2017



I decided to read another true crime story and this one popped up on my recommendation so I picked it up. It was a few years back when I learned about Karla and Paul in my favorite crime site which is no longer available. I was engrossed from first page up to the last. With the very intriguing story, it delves into the early lives of both Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo, how they grew up, their family background, their troubled childhoods. Giving the readers a grater insights into the minds of

I decided to read another true crime story and this one popped up on my recommendation so I picked it up. It was a few years back when I learned about Karla and Paul in my favorite crime site which is no longer available. I was engrossed from first page up to the last. With the very intriguing story, it delves into the early lives of both Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo, how they grew up, their family background, their troubled childhoods. Giving the readers a grater insights into the minds of these two cold blooded killers.

This book also contains graphic details of the crimes and some of them were videotaped. My heart break for the family of their victims; for knowing what their daughters went through in the hands of Karla and Paul. And I was saddened, and sickened with the knowledge that Karla didn't get the sentence she deserved.

Overall, this book was a great read because Stephen Williams is an excellent writer and he did a great job with this one though this book is not an easy read. ...more
4

Aug 15, 2017

"It just did not seem possible that such a well-educated, well-adjusted, congenial young man like Paul Bernado could be responsible for such horrible crimes"

It's the same old story. The cops were incompetant. I've read a lot of true crime books and too often the authorities make stupid mistakes; reports don't get filed, leads aren't investigated, DNA samples aren't tested for two years!!!! I'm not an investigator so maybe it's easier said than done but i wonder how many of these true crime "It just did not seem possible that such a well-educated, well-adjusted, congenial young man like Paul Bernado could be responsible for such horrible crimes"

It's the same old story. The cops were incompetant. I've read a lot of true crime books and too often the authorities make stupid mistakes; reports don't get filed, leads aren't investigated, DNA samples aren't tested for two years!!!! I'm not an investigator so maybe it's easier said than done but i wonder how many of these true crime books would have been written without the mistakes of the cops.

I'd like to think i'm a hard person to gross-out. The Jeffrey Dahmer book shocked me and the state of Sharon Tate's corpse wasn't nice to read about but i wasn't grossed out or sickened. This book, however, broke me. The crimes are grim, disgusting, depraved and every other evil perverted word you can think of.

Despite the content the book was very well written. There's a lull in the middle but it picks up toward the end. This isn't something i would recommend unless you have a stomach made of iron. ...more
3

Dec 03, 2012

Disturbing. Period. I'd never read it again and want it out of my house as soon as possible! It's not the author or the writing. It's the subject matter and how Karla Homolka was given a slap on the wrist for being a sick, twisted, incestuous pedophile rapist. Her family is sick as well and seem completely out of touch with reality. It scares me to think there are people like Karla and her family that walk among us. She has been released and is married and has children. I can't figure out who Disturbing. Period. I'd never read it again and want it out of my house as soon as possible! It's not the author or the writing. It's the subject matter and how Karla Homolka was given a slap on the wrist for being a sick, twisted, incestuous pedophile rapist. Her family is sick as well and seem completely out of touch with reality. It scares me to think there are people like Karla and her family that walk among us. She has been released and is married and has children. I can't figure out who would marry a women like her. Perhaps he is just a sick and twisted. I fear for her children and any one else who comes in contact with this woman and her family. ...more
5

Dec 22, 2015

Unlike Burnside and Cairns' attempt to play the "journalistic integrity" card yet still try to tell this story, Williams chooses not only to forgo the Crown's publication ban and lay out every disgusting detail of the crimes but also every disgusting detail of the unholy shitshow of a police investigation that followed. Trust me. You know absolutely nothing about Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo if you've not read this book. What I love about it most, however, is Williams' Capote-esque writing Unlike Burnside and Cairns' attempt to play the "journalistic integrity" card yet still try to tell this story, Williams chooses not only to forgo the Crown's publication ban and lay out every disgusting detail of the crimes but also every disgusting detail of the unholy shitshow of a police investigation that followed. Trust me. You know absolutely nothing about Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo if you've not read this book. What I love about it most, however, is Williams' Capote-esque writing style. This man has been dragged through the Canadian courts multiple times, charged with more crimes than Karla and Paul together, and shunned by traditional tabloid-crime "journalists" for his unwavering determination to tell the whole story despite publication bans and the hurt feelings of inept investigators and solicitors. Yet unlike the typical true crime rags with the gory pictures in the middle- the murderabilic equivalent of Harlequin romance novels- Williams is able to maintain his "literary integrity" by giving us a full cast of characters. Not only does he outline all the major and minor players in the initial investigations, indictments, and hearings, but he develops these characters fully and honestly in order to tell the parallel story of the ineptitude, ulterior motivation, and, at times, downright stupidity of almost every single decision made by anyone with an inkling of authority. Clearly, Williams would be reviled by his peers for having access to information they did not and writing about it (not without impunity), but it also only makes sense that he would be reviled by the entire Green Ribbon Task Force and the Canadian Correctional system for exposing their true deal with a devil that never needed to be made in the first place. My only problem with Williams- Dude.... you need to let go of "non sequitur." I know, I know. As a wannabe writer, I have my secret crushes on phrases and words, but if you were paid by the number of times you used that phrase, you'd be able to pay all your court costs and debt and retire to Montserrat yourself :) Luvs! ...more
5

Feb 20, 2015

Karla Homolka should have got life in prison in the general population. I don't even have any words to describe her. Paul, who is in prison, should also be in the general population. If the police hadn't so severely messed up, several times, I believe that Leslie and Kristen would have never died. If I were the parents, I would have sued the police. My heart goes out to them- what a horrible tragedy. A good read if you want to get pissed off.
4

Sep 20, 2015

This is a really difficult book for me to give a rating to. It seems to be well researched and I appreciate that this author didn't fall under the spell of Karla's manipulation. The story of these two is horrifying and the descriptions of their crimes are horrifying. I think the book gave me a couple of mild nightmares but now I want to read the follow up. So... Success?
4

Mar 03, 2013

I clearly remember what led up to these two monsters being arrested. I remember how the media was not allowed to write anything about what happened in court or anything to do with what these two did. In Canada that is. In the USA books were written that gave even more graphic descriptions of the crimes they committed agains three young women, Karla's sister included. I followed, as much as possible , what was going on during the trial. I was outraged, like many other people, to find that there I clearly remember what led up to these two monsters being arrested. I remember how the media was not allowed to write anything about what happened in court or anything to do with what these two did. In Canada that is. In the USA books were written that gave even more graphic descriptions of the crimes they committed agains three young women, Karla's sister included. I followed, as much as possible , what was going on during the trial. I was outraged, like many other people, to find that there were videos of their crimes that were not included into evidence till much later. By then plea bargains had been made. I was outraged again , like other people, to hear the punishments these monsters got.
This book tells it all. It is disturbing, it is frightening that there are people out there like this. It is outrageous how our justice system works.
Though I found the book very disturbing I could not put it down. Because I wanted to know what happened, why these young women had to die, why both monsters were not in prison for life. It is really sad to see what society has come to. And what can be gotten away with...... ...more
5

Nov 28, 2012

I reluctantly give this book 5 stars. How can I really rate this book when I've never read any others on the case? Anyway, from what I gleaned from it, I really enjoyed (kind of) reading it. I am not going to bother explaining what the book is about. By now, you probably know. Rather I'll just make a few short comments.

Only kind of because there were times when the book was a bit heavy to read. Many of the reviewers complain of graphic deal. That is complete and utter nonsense. Or perhaps I have I reluctantly give this book 5 stars. How can I really rate this book when I've never read any others on the case? Anyway, from what I gleaned from it, I really enjoyed (kind of) reading it. I am not going to bother explaining what the book is about. By now, you probably know. Rather I'll just make a few short comments.

Only kind of because there were times when the book was a bit heavy to read. Many of the reviewers complain of graphic deal. That is complete and utter nonsense. Or perhaps I have been completely desensitized. It would be different if we were actually visually seeing the tapes that Karla and Paul made. Anyway, what I mean by heavy is that it is just a lot to take in for me. I would read many pages per day. It was extremely interesting, but I had a limit. I'd prefer to try and stay positive.

The end of the book will make you want to throw it in a fire or against a wall. You may, in fact, feel conflicted because you'll be awkwardly rooting for Paul Bernardos defense attorney. Overall, don't read this book unless you are really, really fascinated by this particular case. I am and it was worth my time. ...more
3

Sep 13, 2015

My first foray into true-crime was powerful, sad, and stomach churning. Invisible Darkness was objectively very will written and interesting. I really appreciated Williams' non-sensationalist approach. It was by all means a good book, but I can't classify it as enjoyable, nor could I ever read it again.
5

Oct 04, 2015

This true crime book by Stephen Williams examines the rapes and murders committed by Paul Bernardo with the assistance of his wife, Karla Homolka in the Canadian Niagara Falls towns of St. Catherine and Scarborough during the early 1990's. Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French were abducted, held captive and raped by both Bernardo and Homolka before being murdered. Tammy Homolka, Karla's sister, was drugged with halothane and raped by the couple in the Homolka family home. She died during the This true crime book by Stephen Williams examines the rapes and murders committed by Paul Bernardo with the assistance of his wife, Karla Homolka in the Canadian Niagara Falls towns of St. Catherine and Scarborough during the early 1990's. Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French were abducted, held captive and raped by both Bernardo and Homolka before being murdered. Tammy Homolka, Karla's sister, was drugged with halothane and raped by the couple in the Homolka family home. She died during the assault. Incredibly, the police and Coroner believed the couple's story that the teenager had died after drinking too much alcohol and failed to properly investigate.

At one point while reading the explicit and horrendous account of the rape of Leslie Mahaffy I did wonder what kind of sicko would want to read this book. This didn't stop me reading, which probably answered my question. This book is not recommended reading for under 18's or anyone who will be traumatised by reading depictions of rape, torture, mutilation and murder. These scenes are particularly disturbing because we know they happened exactly as Williams has written them. Bernardo and Homolka video taped themselves raping their numerous victims, some of whom were released because they were too drugged to realise they had been raped. Williams was permitted to sit in the court room, despite not being a member of the press, after a legal challenge by Homolka's defence team. He and the jury saw the tapes several times.

After feeling annoyed at Williams for including these scenes I later realised they are vital to examining this crime. Williams describes the girls' ordeal with perfect empathy while not sparing us the horrendous manner in which they were violated and terrorised before being murdered. During these scenes, Williams brilliantly contrasts their bravery and dignity in the face of unimaginable cruelty with the callous selfishness and depravity of their attackers. He is documenting their ordeal in part because the tapes were secretly destroyed at the request of the victims' families. While this may be an understandable reaction, it also means the best evidence against this murderous pair no longer exists, which may hamper future efforts to keep Bernardo in jail.

Williams meticulously details the incompetence of the Canadian police force and the stupidity of the authorities involved in the case. Bernardo was arrested on Homolka's evidence after he beat her. The police had no evidence against Bernardo besides his wife's testimony so they declared her a "battered woman" and arranged a plea deal that would see her serve a minimal sentence for her involvement in the abductions. Williams describes the manner in which Homolka was encouraged by the psychiatrists involved in her case to see herself as another of Bernardo's victims and use this "fact" to cynically manipulate the police and judicial system in her favour.

The police and other authorities were unaware the couple had video taped the rapes and the defence was in possession of the tapes - withholding evidence until Homolka's plea deal was arranged. This all came out during the trial. Homolka was released after serving little more than 3 years, with no conditions, and has married and had children. Given she participated in the rape of her own younger sister and caused her death, I share William's dismay at her lenient treatment in the hands of the Canadian justice system and was permitted to raise children with no plans put in place to monitor their welfare.

Despite numerous searches of the couple's home, the police had failed to find the tapes which showed Homolka to be a willing participant in the rapes and possibly the killer of the two girls. Williams describes the outrage this provoked in Canada and the extent to which the authorities in Canada went to censor details of the crimes as shown on the tapes to ensure the accused received a "fair trail." Williams leaves us with the impression the legal rights of the accused were more important to the authorities than the legal rights of the victims. Homolka's plea deal was upheld despite the fact her evidence was no longer needed and she was demonstrated not to be a frightened "battered wife." If police had been in possession of the tapes, she would have been charged with murder along with her husband and would still be in prison - like her former husband.

Bernardo had also been questioned a total of 17 times in connection with the Scarborough rapes and every time he managed to fool the police into letting him go. They failed to see the handsome, well spoken Bernardo with his young, beautiful wife could be a serial rapist, much less that she would be involved and a willing participant. The police did not make the link between the rapes and the murders of the teenagers throughout most of the investigation due to poor communication between different branches of the Canadian police. Williams describes this well and his frustration and incredulity pours onto the pages.

Williams also examines the dysfunctional nature of both the Bernardo and Homolka families and how this corrupt family environment may have contributed to the development of their pathological personalities. He also details the toxic social milieu in which the young killers operated and how Bernardo's predilection for raping young women within his social circle is not taken seriously within the friendship group. He does an excellent job describing the mindset of both killers and the manner in which their psychopathic personalities made them impervious to police interrogation upon arrest and cross examination in the court room. According to Williams, they enjoyed the attention.

Overall Williams argues the "Ken and Barbie" killers got away with their crimes for a number of years largely due to the incompetence of the Canadian police, medical and judicial systems. The effects of family and peer values in normalising unacceptable behaviour are also unflinchingly examined.

I recommend with book with the reservation that it is not for young readers or people who are likely to be traumatised by explicit descriptions of rape and murder.




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4

Jul 26, 2011

It was alright... Kinda repetitive of the other ones I've read.
3

Oct 27, 2013

A bit slow and boring at times but overall an interesting read.
5

Oct 09, 2011

although i am giving this book a high rating, I have to save that it is mainly due to its affect on me which was profoundly disturbing..this all took place in the region where i reside..as residents of this area, we were constantly reminded of these horrendous crimes on a daily basis from the local news .. I don't know why but i was compelled to finish this read..
5

Jul 17, 2009

An apology I feel is necessary. I am fascinated/repulsed by real crime. I never cease to be amazed by what people can do, are capable of. Way past what any fiction writer can imagine for them. I know not everyone feels this way. This case is unique, and little known outside of Canada. Again, it's fascinating, but I understand not for everyone.
3

Jul 20, 2013

Incredibly detailed, but somewhat disjointed in the execution. The narrative flips back and forth from Bernardo and Homolka, to their victims, to the amazingly inept police investigation, to various people that existed in Bernardo and Homolka's universe. While the author spared no expense in describing the details of the couple's crimes, it was also done in such a way that had no empathy or sympathy for the victims. Many passages were extremely disturbing.
4

Nov 17, 2009

Disturbing look at a serial killer couple. Karla Homolka served only 12 years after turning evidence against her husband, Paul Bernardo. The "deal with the devil" Canadian prosecution made with Homolka is truly appalling. A posit made by authorities has it that Williams had access to banned tapes of the couple's abuse of more than four victims' rape and abuse by the couple. Victims included Karla's teenage sister. Conjecture that copies of videos exist on black market.
Jack Ketchum based Weed Disturbing look at a serial killer couple. Karla Homolka served only 12 years after turning evidence against her husband, Paul Bernardo. The "deal with the devil" Canadian prosecution made with Homolka is truly appalling. A posit made by authorities has it that Williams had access to banned tapes of the couple's abuse of more than four victims' rape and abuse by the couple. Victims included Karla's teenage sister. Conjecture that copies of videos exist on black market.
Jack Ketchum based Weed species on Karla Homolka.
Also in November 2000, crown officials abandoned efforts to prosecute author Stephen Williams for allegedly viewing sex killer Paul Bernardo's notorious sex-and-torture videotapes. Williams was previously charged with disobeying a court order after detectives concluded that 27 passages in his book, Invisible Darkness, were so detailed that Williams had to have seen the restricted tapes.
Source: http://www.trutv.com/library/crime/se...
Weed Species
Lethal Marriage The Unspeakable Crimes of Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka ...more
2

Mar 22, 2013

Oy. Where do I start?

I always found the Barnardo/Homolka case interesting. I first heard about it on an episode of "Autopsy" on HBO a number of years ago. So when I got on a reading kick, I decided to finally check this one out.

I got about 3/4 of the way through it, and I struggled. It's not particularly well written, in terms of style. For some reason, the author has a particular beef with anything associated with the Niagara Falls area. He is also very fond of the phrase "he/she had an open Oy. Where do I start?

I always found the Barnardo/Homolka case interesting. I first heard about it on an episode of "Autopsy" on HBO a number of years ago. So when I got on a reading kick, I decided to finally check this one out.

I got about 3/4 of the way through it, and I struggled. It's not particularly well written, in terms of style. For some reason, the author has a particular beef with anything associated with the Niagara Falls area. He is also very fond of the phrase "he/she had an open face". And I find his references to Disney World as "Karla wanted to go see The Mouse (again)" annoying.

The author swears he's never seen "the videos", but I'm not sure how he can know so much graphic detail without having seen them. I enjoy a good true crime book, and have read some pretty brutal books, but this one was just TOO detailed - TOO graphic. It was almost unnecessary.

I made it as far as the trial, and I had to put it down because I'd just had enough. A year later, I've decided not to finish it, and call it quits, even though I don't like to do that. I know the outcome (and to say it was a miscarriage of justice is...well....a miscarriage of justice) and I just can't justify going any further with it. I'll have to see if I can find another book about the case that isn't so detailed. Sometimes that can be a good thing. ...more
2

Jun 08, 2017

The author kept talking about how terrible Karla's book collection was, how telling. She read a lot of true crime and horror books. So the whole time I'm reading this very gristly true crime account, I'm questioning myself and feeling very guilty. I thought it was kind of an odd detail to very repeatedly discuss in a true crime novel. This book was just ok. He seemed to write some details in great detail and repeatedly while other things were really swept over. There are better books that cover The author kept talking about how terrible Karla's book collection was, how telling. She read a lot of true crime and horror books. So the whole time I'm reading this very gristly true crime account, I'm questioning myself and feeling very guilty. I thought it was kind of an odd detail to very repeatedly discuss in a true crime novel. This book was just ok. He seemed to write some details in great detail and repeatedly while other things were really swept over. There are better books that cover this story out there. ...more
5

Mar 29, 2019

If I could give this book more stars I would! One of the best true crime books I’ve had the opportunity to read on this case know in Canada as the Barbie and Ken murders.

The in-depth research that was put into this book is evident from the first page up until the last page. Though the conclusion to how these two are sentenced for their crimes is upsetting and fills me with anger and disappointment for how justice is served in North America.
5

Aug 12, 2018

I'm actually the same age as Karla Homolka. I remember when the story broke in the early 90s of this notorious Canadian couple that it was so hard for me to fathom that someone my age could be capable of doing the things that Homolka had done. From what I heard in the news, Bernardo's guilt was clear but I always felt that Homolka got off way too easy. She tried to portray herself as a victim, but she not just condoned and encouraged Bernardo's rapes but was equally culpable in planning them.

I'm actually the same age as Karla Homolka. I remember when the story broke in the early 90s of this notorious Canadian couple that it was so hard for me to fathom that someone my age could be capable of doing the things that Homolka had done. From what I heard in the news, Bernardo's guilt was clear but I always felt that Homolka got off way too easy. She tried to portray herself as a victim, but she not just condoned and encouraged Bernardo's rapes but was equally culpable in planning them.

This book is a very tough read given the content. It's extremely graphic in all its sordid detail. This is not for the faint of heart. It is very dark and disturbing, but it's like a tragic car wreck in that you can't tear yourself away. Reading this book made me feel sick in the pit of my stomach, but at the same time it was fascinating. Williams' investigative reporting includes details that I don't recall hearing about in the news. I was absolutely sickened to hear that police artists had composite sketches of Bernardo that were never released based on previous attacks on multiple victims. The pattern of violence escalated. Could the murders of Mahaffy and French been prevented had the sketches been released which may have led to Bernardo's arrest sooner? We will never know, but that question must gnaw at the parents of those girls every day.

While this is a lengthy tome at 649 pages, my fingers could not turn the pages fast enough and it was a fast read for me. Bear in mind that the details won't leave your mind once you read them, and you are going to want to keep your daughters closer to you and make you paranoid about their safety.

This review was posted on my book blog:
https://darlenesbooknook.blogspot.com... ...more
3

Sep 15, 2017

I'm still not sure what the point of the lengthy and very bland introduction chapter was or why the author thought mentioning how spot on his go-to psychic/stripper was about the case made him look credible in any way. I admit that I was close to closing this book forever when he kept droning on about his psychic/stripper friend. It also took about 200 pages until I could make sense of the Masonic skull story in the very beginning.
Undoubtedly a thorough researcher the author unfortunately I'm still not sure what the point of the lengthy and very bland introduction chapter was or why the author thought mentioning how spot on his go-to psychic/stripper was about the case made him look credible in any way. I admit that I was close to closing this book forever when he kept droning on about his psychic/stripper friend. It also took about 200 pages until I could make sense of the Masonic skull story in the very beginning.
Undoubtedly a thorough researcher the author unfortunately confused me a lot by his partly erratic writing style.

What I appreciated about this book was the extensive background stories of both Karla as well as Paul. Their upbringing, their relationships with family, friends and neighbors. First signs of mental health issues and sociopathic tendencies and the mention of Karla's histrionic psychopathic hybristophilia. (I would have pegged her as having a co-morbidity with BPD from reading this book.)
I personally could have done without the background knowledge of the detective(s) but on the other hand this makes for a very complete and thoroughly researched read.
I'm also glad that the author is one of the ones who didn't fall for Karla's victim routine. She was already one disturbed puppy before she met Paul and a major factor in him starting to rape women. Entries from her yearbooks, letters and cards written to Paul as well as some of her friends prove this.
The very detailed accounts of investigative and court proceedings can be a bit bland to read at times and I found myself skipping a paragraphs or two every now and then from page 300 onward.

There were a few very strange grammar and spelling errors ("Robert Resslor" instead of Robert Ressler for once) that were hard for me to look past to be honest.
I was annoyed that some things that sounded completely ridiculous initially (such as Tammy having gotten her period while Paul raped the virginal girl) were explained hundreds of pages later. To give just one example.

In conclusion this was probably the hardest book for me to read in my entire life. I am used to graphic accounts of violent crimes as a True Crime "buff" but this...was something else entirely. The accounts of the rapes were extremely detailed. If you have anxiety or PTSD or were the victim of (sexual) abuse this book might be a major trigger, no matter if you're male or female.
If you still want to read it: Put your big girl/boy pants on and prepare for the worst. Because...it will be even worse than what you can imagine, I promise you that.
I had thus far only read a short entry about this case in my Encyclopedia of Serial Killers by Michael Newton and watched the movie "Karla" with Laura Prepon and Misha Collins (which makes Karla look like nothing but an abused victim of Paul's herself).
I'm still glad I read this book because it opened up my eyes to what humans are capable of. ...more

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