John Wayne Gacy: Defending a Monster: The True Story of the Lawyer Who Defended One of the Most Evil Serial Killers in History Info

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“A riveting account of what it was like to defend one
of the most notorious serial killers in history”—Seattle
Post Intelligencer


“Sam, could you do me a
favor?” Thus begins a story that has now become part of
America’s true crime hall of fame. It is a gory, grotesque tale
befitting a Stephen King novel. It is also a David and Goliath
saga—the story of a young lawyer fresh from the Public
Defender’s Office whose first client in private practice turns out
to be the worst serial killer in our nation’s history.

Sam
Amirante had just opened his first law practice when he got a phone
call from his friend John Wayne Gacy, a well-known and well-liked
community figure. Gacy was upset about what he called “police
harassment” and asked Amirante for help. With the police following
his every move in connection with the disappearance of a local
teenager, Gacy eventually gave a drunken, dramatic, early morning
confession—to his new lawyer. Gacy was eventually charged with
murder and Amirante suddenly became the defense attorney for one of
American’s most disturbing serial killers. It was his first
case.

This new edition of John Wayne Gacy, which contains updated
material about the case that has come to light since the book’s
original publication, recounts the gruesome killings and the famous
trial that shocked a nation.

Average Ratings and Reviews
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Reviews for John Wayne Gacy: Defending a Monster: The True Story of the Lawyer Who Defended One of the Most Evil Serial Killers in History:

5

Oct 23, 2017

I knew the basics about John Wayne Gacy before starting, but no details. The case made national headlines at the time, but I was too young to take notice. This is written by his defense attorney, Sam Amirante and co author Danny Broderick. What I really wanted to know is how someone can defend a serial killer. There is no doubt that Gacy committed the horrendous act of killing 33 boys and burying most of them under his house, in fact, he would tell anyone who asked that he did it(against his I knew the basics about John Wayne Gacy before starting, but no details. The case made national headlines at the time, but I was too young to take notice. This is written by his defense attorney, Sam Amirante and co author Danny Broderick. What I really wanted to know is how someone can defend a serial killer. There is no doubt that Gacy committed the horrendous act of killing 33 boys and burying most of them under his house, in fact, he would tell anyone who asked that he did it(against his attorney's guidance, of course). Who can defend that and why?

Amirante answers my question with a passion reserved for those protecting our constitution. "Everyone has a right to a fair trial in accordance and in keeping with the dictates of our Constitution. Then it would be a jury of his peers to decide his fate." He hammers this throughout especially when I really start hating Gacy. Amirante steers the reader back to why he's defending this guy and not let emotions muddy the reasons why Gacy deserves fair representation.

Gacy was Amirate's first case after starting his new private practice. Even though he lost that first case and Gacy died by lethal injection in 1994, he started The Missing Child Recovery Act which eliminated the 72 hour waiting period to search for lost children in the state of Illinois. Eventually a national network was formed known as the Amber Alert. "Therefore, these boys...and eleven more, did not die in vain." A well written and reflective read on our justice system. ...more
5

Aug 24, 2017

Listened to in audio format.

This book was fascinating and I have found myself listening whenever I had a spare minute.

This book was written by Gacy's lawyers Sam Amirante and Danny Broderick. I was worried the book would claim Gacy's innocence or defend his actions but I was wrong.

The book discussed the murder of Gacy's last victim Robert Pieste which led to his arrest. Mr Amirante also explains his horror when a drunk Gacy confessed to killing 33 young men. When Gacy is finally arrested he Listened to in audio format.

This book was fascinating and I have found myself listening whenever I had a spare minute.

This book was written by Gacy's lawyers Sam Amirante and Danny Broderick. I was worried the book would claim Gacy's innocence or defend his actions but I was wrong.

The book discussed the murder of Gacy's last victim Robert Pieste which led to his arrest. Mr Amirante also explains his horror when a drunk Gacy confessed to killing 33 young men. When Gacy is finally arrested he shows his manipulative side by taking a heart attack.

Sam is under no illusion that Gacy is 'mad' and tries to get a not guilty verdict by reason of insanity. The defence claim Gacy is sane and was aware of his actions during the murder.

I really enjoyed the legal sides of the arguments and how it affected Amarante's family being Gacy's lawyer. Both lawyers had independent psychological profiles done claiming opposing viewpoints. It definitely makes you wonder if Gacy was truly evil or desperately unwell.

If I have one criticism I think the full text of the closing arguments for the prosecution and defence was a little boring. However this did not stop my enjoyment and I will definitely listen to this again. ...more
3

May 20, 2018

As I grow older and find myself becoming more and more like my Mom, I seem to be gravitating towards the same books that captivated her, which seems to always be spinning me back to true crime. Lately, however, I have discovered that some of those true crime books are not exactly what they purport to be; they are, instead, memoirs of the author masking themselves as true crime.

That's precisely what Judge Sam L. Amirante has done with John Wayne Gacy: Defending a Monster. Sure he tells us the As I grow older and find myself becoming more and more like my Mom, I seem to be gravitating towards the same books that captivated her, which seems to always be spinning me back to true crime. Lately, however, I have discovered that some of those true crime books are not exactly what they purport to be; they are, instead, memoirs of the author masking themselves as true crime.

That's precisely what Judge Sam L. Amirante has done with John Wayne Gacy: Defending a Monster. Sure he tells us the basics of the Gacy killings, sure he talks a bit about the Gacy he knew, but mostly Amirante is telling us what it was like to be him as he "defended the monster." Admittedly, many of the things he relates about himself are damn interesting, but too much of his book is spinning a myth about his own awesomeness (though he wouldn't be so crass as to say that explicitly) or lecturing us on the "greatness" of the US legal system: its nobility, its idealism, its importance, hell ... its preeminence. Too much bla bla bla for my taste.

Personally, I wanted a bit more of the crime(s) in my true crime book rather than the law and the trial, you know?

p.s. The author's afterword didn't do enough to mitigate my serious discomfort throughout as I listened to some all too familiar 70s and 80s homophobia. Just a warning if you are planning on giving this a listen. ...more
5

Jun 25, 2015

Wow.

As with all of the true crime books I've been reading lately, I went into this one knowing very little beyond the fact that John Gacy had killed a lot of people. But there is so much more to the story.

So many times while watching the news, I've remarked to my husband that I don't understand who in their right mind would defend some of the vicious, despicable people in this world, that there was no way in hell that I'd do it. After reading this book, I understand.

My feelings about John Gacy Wow.

As with all of the true crime books I've been reading lately, I went into this one knowing very little beyond the fact that John Gacy had killed a lot of people. But there is so much more to the story.

So many times while watching the news, I've remarked to my husband that I don't understand who in their right mind would defend some of the vicious, despicable people in this world, that there was no way in hell that I'd do it. After reading this book, I understand.

My feelings about John Gacy are quite complicated. If you have a brain and a heart, you'll understand by the time you get to the end of this book.

This was another audiobook for me, too, and I must say that the narrator managed to make my skin crawl more than once, as he 'acted' out the part of Gacy.

I can't really write a review that will do this book justice. Suffice it to say that this one will stick with me for a while, and not for the reasons I would have thought before I started it. ...more
4

Jan 14, 2017


Personally if I were a lawyer I would quit my job on the spot if I had to defend a man like Gacy who dressed up as a clown by day and killed by night. However this book gives people insight to the man who dealt with Gacy's case and who found himself utterly shocked by the crimes. Nothing is sugarcoated in here and it's all painstakingly honest, not to mention creepy as hell.
3

Jun 12, 2017

This is one of the most difficult reviews I’ve written for GoodReads. In part, this is because the organization and writing style of the book is so inconsistent … and that can’t be attributed only to being written by more than one person. I even debated deleting the book from my listing unreviewed (as I take that name “GoodReads” literally). Ultimately, I’ve decided to recommend it … conditionally.

The retelling of the murders committed by John Wayne Gacy is both compelling and revolting at the This is one of the most difficult reviews I’ve written for GoodReads. In part, this is because the organization and writing style of the book is so inconsistent … and that can’t be attributed only to being written by more than one person. I even debated deleting the book from my listing unreviewed (as I take that name “GoodReads” literally). Ultimately, I’ve decided to recommend it … conditionally.

The retelling of the murders committed by John Wayne Gacy is both compelling and revolting at the same time. It is not idle or morbid curiosity that interests, but more of a need to understand HOW this could happen. How could so many people disappear without being reported? How could so many murders occur without obvious detection? How was he able to repeat the process over and over again? And how could someone do this and NOT be insane?

Written from the Defense side of the aisle, there are answers to some of these questions. Also, although it is not explained until the end, there are moments when John Gacy’s comments and feelings are expressed when no one was around to record them. We discover later that many, many hours of taped recordings were made by his attorneys and that Gacy expressed his comments and feelings in the recording. These references are used in a “you are there” style, such as Gacy carrying a body up to the attic and thinking how heavy the victim was and how hard on his back it was for Gacy to hide the remains.

The overwhelming style is as if the Reader is sharing drinks with the lead attorney at a bar and talking about the case. There are many asides. There are many stray opinions. There are “left field” comments about the importance of guaranteeing the Right of a fair and impartial trial along with derogatory comments about people who think that not everyone deserves this Right. And there are also digressions about the importance of people who fight and die for our country. As I indicated, it felt as if we were having the discussion over drinks at a bar.

There are also some very disturbing remarks made by the lead attorney to the Reader. For instance, one witness at the trial turns heads as she enters the room and testifies. The attorney states, though, that “Donita” is actually “Don,” a transgender person. Therefore, it was the attorney’s duty to challenge the veracity of Donita’s remarks since Donita was obviously living a lie. It naturally followed that much of her testimony was also a lie. That observation made me very, very uncomfortable.

Then, there was a remark made in the Acknowledgments in which the writer frets over the possibility of omitting the name of a contributor to the book … which he states would be a greater crime than the ones portrayed in the book’s pages. What?!!!

Despite all of this, the Gacy case retains its horrific fascination, and the writing from the Defense side gives the Reader insights that likely wouldn’t have been in other “true crime” books. I recommend it … with significant reservations … to those who want to learn more. ...more
5

Sep 12, 2012

Having read most of the books written about Gacy, I found this an interesting read from the defense attorney's point of view. Strangely enough, there was an article in the news about the case just a couple of days after I finished it, regarding one of the suspected young men in the ongoing effort to identify the remaining 7 bodies that haven't been ID'd yet by one means or another. This young man's remains were actually found out west, and he was ruled out as a victim of Gacy's after nearly 30 Having read most of the books written about Gacy, I found this an interesting read from the defense attorney's point of view. Strangely enough, there was an article in the news about the case just a couple of days after I finished it, regarding one of the suspected young men in the ongoing effort to identify the remaining 7 bodies that haven't been ID'd yet by one means or another. This young man's remains were actually found out west, and he was ruled out as a victim of Gacy's after nearly 30 years. ...more
3

Sep 15, 2012

While this is a page turner, that has more to do with the grotesque nature of the true crime that makes Gacy fascinating than it does with the craft of writing. As a result, this reads a bit like an epistle justifying why Amirante chose to defend Gacy. Throughout the entire book, Amirante and Broderick talk of Gacy's 'homosexual tendencies' in a vernacular that is more appropriate for 1979 than today. For a self-actualized gay man in 2012, their commentary grows tiring, and often had me While this is a page turner, that has more to do with the grotesque nature of the true crime that makes Gacy fascinating than it does with the craft of writing. As a result, this reads a bit like an epistle justifying why Amirante chose to defend Gacy. Throughout the entire book, Amirante and Broderick talk of Gacy's 'homosexual tendencies' in a vernacular that is more appropriate for 1979 than today. For a self-actualized gay man in 2012, their commentary grows tiring, and often had me wondering if the authors themselves were homophobic on some level. It's as if the mere act of writing about gay sex is cause for them to defend their own sexuality. The resulting tone, unfortunately, is that of a tall tale told in the misty confines of a country club locker room. It's not hard to picture the authors standing around naked, wrapped in a towel, telling a story about the time they had to come to the defense of some sissy. Don't be confused though, they only stepped forward because they were raised right. Who really cares about what homosexuals do in private, right? It's not until the epilogue that they redeem themselves and, for the first time in the entire text, deal with Gacy's sexuality. It is here that they discuss how Gacy's own internalized homophobia was so strong, he often could never speak of it, or acknowledge that side of his persona. It's unfortunate that it takes the book to come to this point, rather than the authors bring it up at the beginning of the story and infuse the impacting weight of Gacy's homophobia throughout. Now, with 30 years perspective, it would have been nice if the authors had spent some time reflecting on the meaning of Gacy, and the depth of pain he suffered from being programmed by an abusive father who never could accept Gacy for who he really was. It is in that very reflection that can lead us, as readers, to realize that Gacy may have been raving mad from the get-go, but had he known true unconditional love, how might he have been different? How might all of our children be different if they each were taught to be confident in who they are? Might that be the way from stopping serial killers? Teen suicide? Rather than a regurgitation of facts in a locker room tall tale, that story would have been a true page-turner that we all could learn from. ...more
1

Jun 18, 2014

I read 60% of this before I chose to skim the remainder, not because of the severity and gruesomeness of the crime, but because of the writing itself. First off, the small print underneath Gacy's name on the cover bears true: it has as much to do about Gacy's lawyer (also the author) himself as it does about Gacy. This does not normally bother me, but in this case, I did not like it. The writing was laxed and informal, with sentences like this- "Ok, David Cram...not a brain surgeon, and so on I read 60% of this before I chose to skim the remainder, not because of the severity and gruesomeness of the crime, but because of the writing itself. First off, the small print underneath Gacy's name on the cover bears true: it has as much to do about Gacy's lawyer (also the author) himself as it does about Gacy. This does not normally bother me, but in this case, I did not like it. The writing was laxed and informal, with sentences like this- "Ok, David Cram...not a brain surgeon, and so on and so forth, ya know." I found Amirante to be sarcastic, failing in his attempts to be humorous (I assume that's what he was going for) and it seemed callous instead, considering we are talking about the brutal murder of numerous boys. At times he talked condescendingly about the police and made comments that felt like he was trying to garner sympathy for Gacy, the guy with the "broken mind." I wonder, where is all the sympathy for the boys he strangled and those families who will never be whole again because of his actions? ...more
2

Jan 10, 2014

Very transphobic when he questioned Donita. Didn't like that part. For that he loses 2 stars. Very bigoted attitude and for that he loses another.
2

Oct 12, 2016

Interesting review of John Wayne Gary's crimes. I didn't have much empathy for his lawyer as he seems like a bit of a dick with a warped sense of humour.
2

Aug 31, 2011

An inconsistent book mostly about what it was like to be John Wayne Gacy's lawyer. I was immediately swept into the book by the opening, which recounts a fateful visit by Gacy to a pharmacy for a small contracting job. We get the fictionalized perspective of a boy who works at the pharmacy, Gacy, and others and I hoped it would continue like this, but unfortunately most of the book simply recounts the experiences of the lawyer and not necessarily even about his extensive interaction with Gacy An inconsistent book mostly about what it was like to be John Wayne Gacy's lawyer. I was immediately swept into the book by the opening, which recounts a fateful visit by Gacy to a pharmacy for a small contracting job. We get the fictionalized perspective of a boy who works at the pharmacy, Gacy, and others and I hoped it would continue like this, but unfortunately most of the book simply recounts the experiences of the lawyer and not necessarily even about his extensive interaction with Gacy the year before the trial. No, no one can ever get into the head of Gacy and none of the psychiatrists and psychologists could agree what was wrong with him, though something certainly was off, but more of an attempt to flesh out his role as clown, brother, boss, community volunteer, husband and father would have illuminated his identity. I felt the reader doesn't spend enough time with Gacy in the book. The book tells us more than it shows about his "good" side and, in scenes meant to capture how unpredictable Gacy is, the book is so poorly written, the awkwardness obscures any insight the episodes might provide. And the exclamation points! Where was the editor?

I was left still puzzling over the enigma that Gacy is and annoyed by the tease the book was, but ultimately this isn't a book about John Wayne Gacy; it's about being Gacy's attorney. Know that before you decide whether this is the book you wish to read when trying to understand this man.

I did learn not to judge the attorneys who defend hated individuals. In making that point, that everyone deserves a fair trial with legal representation by those who will always work in their client's best interests, regardless of how atrocious the crimes he or she is alleged to have committed, the book does succeed. I thank the authors for that. ...more
1

Jun 09, 2015

I wasn't sure what I was expecting when I picked up this book at the library. Maybe I was expecting the same kind of book as Helter Skelter. It pulled me in at the beginning with the fictionalized account of Gacy kidnapping his final victim and how the author came to be Gacy's lawyer. After that it just seemed like alot of re-telling of events and court room transcripts. At the end of the book the author states that Gacy was a homosexual yet the subject was barely touched on during the duration I wasn't sure what I was expecting when I picked up this book at the library. Maybe I was expecting the same kind of book as Helter Skelter. It pulled me in at the beginning with the fictionalized account of Gacy kidnapping his final victim and how the author came to be Gacy's lawyer. After that it just seemed like alot of re-telling of events and court room transcripts. At the end of the book the author states that Gacy was a homosexual yet the subject was barely touched on during the duration of the book and I believe all of Gacy's victims were raped. There just didn't seem to be any flow to the book after the first few chapters. I ended up skimming through half of it. Not a good sign for me. ...more
4

Sep 24, 2011

I don't usually read true crime, although I have read In Cold Blood and Helter Skelter. However, I was in high school in the Chicago suburbs when the John Wayne Gacy story broke, and I had to read Defending a Monster.

I found the book totally engrossing, but I think that is partly due to the the timing and location of the trial when I was a teen-ager. I haven't read any other books about Gacy, so I learned a lot about the crimes, the man, and the trial.

Defending a Monster is not destined to I don't usually read true crime, although I have read In Cold Blood and Helter Skelter. However, I was in high school in the Chicago suburbs when the John Wayne Gacy story broke, and I had to read Defending a Monster.

I found the book totally engrossing, but I think that is partly due to the the timing and location of the trial when I was a teen-ager. I haven't read any other books about Gacy, so I learned a lot about the crimes, the man, and the trial.

Defending a Monster is not destined to become a classic. It is not as good as In Cold Blood and Helter Skelter. It's also not really a true crime book. It's more the story of the lawyer whose first client in private practice was an acquaintance who turned out to be one of the most notorious mass murderers of all time. It's also a passionate plea from that lawyer to uphold the Sixth Amendment and provide everyone, no matter the crime, to a fair trial and a serious defense. If you enjoy reading true crime nonfiction, or have an interest in the Gacy case, you will probably find this book interesting. ...more
4

Dec 20, 2012

i 1. Plot Overview (Don’t give the ending away!) What did you like about the plot? Did it move quickly or slowly? What didn’t you like? Was it interesting or not? Why? Give details!

something i liked about this book was that, they could never find out that john wayne gacy did to teenage boys. this book moved slowly. one thing i didn't like, was that it explain how he killed every single boy. the interesting part, was when the police couldn't find out that gacy was the killer.



2. Character i 1. Plot Overview (Don’t give the ending away!) What did you like about the plot? Did it move quickly or slowly? What didn’t you like? Was it interesting or not? Why? Give details!

something i liked about this book was that, they could never find out that john wayne gacy did to teenage boys. this book moved slowly. one thing i didn't like, was that it explain how he killed every single boy. the interesting part, was when the police couldn't find out that gacy was the killer.



2. Character Overview: Who were you favorite characters? Describe them—what were they like? Did they remind you of someone? Who/how? How are you like them, even in small ways?

my favorite character was gacy. Gacy was a pedophile, he always went after boys. no. where not even i like.




3. Theme Overview: Choose a theme starter word (love, hate, revenge, friendship, anger, etc.) and tell us what the author is saying about it.
Example: Forgiveness = The author teaches us that sometimes you have to forgive yourself before you can forgive someone else. She shows this through the characters of Danny and Sandy when…


disgusting- the author explain this as john wayne gacy who was a pedophile
...more
4

Apr 18, 2014

Is it fair to dislike a book because you disagree with the author? Probably not, which explains my rating on this book. The fact of the matter is the book is well written. It pulls together many of the facts known about Gacy in a cohesive structure that tells the story of the prosecution and defense of John Wayne Gacy.

The biggest problem that I had with this book is that it is written by Gacy's lead defense attorney who is still trying to win the case. He's still trying to tell the world that Is it fair to dislike a book because you disagree with the author? Probably not, which explains my rating on this book. The fact of the matter is the book is well written. It pulls together many of the facts known about Gacy in a cohesive structure that tells the story of the prosecution and defense of John Wayne Gacy.

The biggest problem that I had with this book is that it is written by Gacy's lead defense attorney who is still trying to win the case. He's still trying to tell the world that Gacy was crazy and execution was not fair. "Gacy had a broken brain and therefore should have been excused of his behavior the way you would excuse a child whose mind has not yet been developed from bad behaviors." The thing is, we don't excuse children for those behaviors, we teach them.

In the end this book is informative, well written and constructed with thought. For this reason I gave it a higher rating than my personal response would have warranted. I don't agree with the author's assessment of Gacy. I believe that he did not meet the criteria for legal insanity. I do believe he was a danger to himself and others. I do believe the death penalty was an appropriate consequence to the actions of John Wayne Gacy. These beliefs make it difficult to empathize with the author of this book and his endeavors to save the life of the monster. ...more
3

Jan 17, 2017

I have rather mixed feelings about this book, not so much because of the subject matter but more because it felt like Amirante was trying to justify his actions in defending Gacy more than anything else. The story itself is definitely interesting and I learned quite a lot of new information about Gacy, particularly his trial more than his crimes, which I was familiar with anyway. But I really did get the feeling that Amirante felt the need to defend himself as a lawyer, a human being and most of I have rather mixed feelings about this book, not so much because of the subject matter but more because it felt like Amirante was trying to justify his actions in defending Gacy more than anything else. The story itself is definitely interesting and I learned quite a lot of new information about Gacy, particularly his trial more than his crimes, which I was familiar with anyway. But I really did get the feeling that Amirante felt the need to defend himself as a lawyer, a human being and most of all a father, for being able to take the objective view and provide Gacy with a proper defence, to which he was of course entitled. Which I did find quite sad. Yes there were people at the time and even now that feel Gacy should have been lynched the moment he confessed but as Amirante states (repeatedly, probably too much) he has every right to a fair trial and that is what he got as far as I can tell. Yes he was definitely crazy and had many psychological issues but he clearly still knew right from wrong, which is one point Amirante doesn't seem to focus on much. He hid the bodies, he hid them for a reason. He may not have felt guilt or remorse but he hid them. This shows an understanding of knowing it was wrong to kill them otherwise he would not have taken the time to do so. There is an undertone of homophobia running through the writing but then at the time of Gacy's crimes and trial, homophobia was a real issue (not that it still isn't) and was very much an influence on Gacy, police, investigators, lawyers, judge and jury.

Having said that Amirante, while rather preachy in places, still leaves enough flexibility in his writing including presenting the prosecution's case (albeit with his own commentary) for you the reader to make up your own mind. However confused or complicated it may end up being. An interesting read but by the end I felt Amirante was writing more for himself than anyone else, I just hope it helped him. ...more
2

Feb 25, 2018

I had a love/hate relationship with this book. I felt it was an informative and detailed elaboration on the Gacy case, of which I knew next to nothing. Also the Audible recording I listened to was spectacular. But it was at times overly salacious to say the least. I could get past the chilling details if it weren't for the authors self righteous showboating. I feel I have been beaten over the head with high minded monologues about the nature of justice and the law in America repeatedly I had a love/hate relationship with this book. I felt it was an informative and detailed elaboration on the Gacy case, of which I knew next to nothing. Also the Audible recording I listened to was spectacular. But it was at times overly salacious to say the least. I could get past the chilling details if it weren't for the authors self righteous showboating. I feel I have been beaten over the head with high minded monologues about the nature of justice and the law in America repeatedly throughout this story. The point could have been adequately made just once in the book, but Amirante repetitively returns to this point. The tone paints the average citizen as an emotional idiot who does not understand the nature of fairness and the law, while painting Amirante as the intelligent and impartial hero who loves justice, and has no guilt or regrets at all for defending Gacy. His point is overstated to say the least. Also does he think people reading this don't already know what a criminal defense lawyer does?

This book also contains some of the most transphobic language I have ever read in a non-fiction book. I had to go back and check when this was published (2011), as the language feels passe. The author re-tells a story more than once (with pride) in which he outs a trans woman in front of a court full of people. More dangerously, he describes her in great detail as a sexually attractive woman, who passes as female, before he outs her. In the real world, this kind of behavior gets trans women killed. He wastes a few passages trying to explain why the incident was important to the case, but I was not convinced. He makes sure to throw some dismissive language about pronouns in for good measure.

This is a worth while read if you, like me, know next to nothing about the timeline of the Gacy murders and the subsequent trial, as his closeness to the case lends him a unique grasp on the facts. But if you are looking for a likable narrator with a nuanced opinion, don't read this. ...more
1

Dec 10, 2015

Maybe the original story itself is befitting of a Stephen King novel, as the description implies. But the way this book is written? Not even close.

The book starts off by attempting to grab readers by telling an imagined version of what happened during the murder of Gacy's final victim. I was interested in the case and tried to force myself through this book, but I just had to give up around 59%. The book is barely about the John Gacy murders at all. It's the autobiography of his lawyer, Maybe the original story itself is befitting of a Stephen King novel, as the description implies. But the way this book is written? Not even close.

The book starts off by attempting to grab readers by telling an imagined version of what happened during the murder of Gacy's final victim. I was interested in the case and tried to force myself through this book, but I just had to give up around 59%. The book is barely about the John Gacy murders at all. It's the autobiography of his lawyer, Amirante - a self-important, self-proclaimed patriot whose bae is the Constitution herself. His overbearingly self-serving attitude becomes more and more apparent the further you read.

Let me just add... I believe in the Constitution. I believe in every person's right to a fair trial. I also believe a person is innocent until proven guilty. I do not have a qualm with any of these things. I do, however, have an issue with jerks and their oversized egos.

Amirante interjects at least once per chapter to remind readers of how super patriotic he is - a model American - and that everyone around him is just uneducated, immoral, conniving, and unfair. Repeatedly refers to the public as stupid, nincompoops, cowardly alcoholics, not brain surgeons, etc. Refers to himself as brilliant more than once, constantly argues that he always held the moral high ground and was never selfish (despite instances displaying the opposite, but for these, he was always quick to throw in reasons why it was okay for him to do so, usually using the "I had to feed my family! That's not selfish, is it? Keeping my family from starving?" excuse that only ever applied to him... and no one else).

Amirante also clearly demonstrates what a transphobic and sexist personality he has throughout the story. Constantly feels the need to use the term "female ______" in front of job titles if the person isnt a man. Most sickeningly, during his court interview of Donita, a trans woman, he badgers her with questions about her person life with no relevance to the case, and even writes in chapter 28:

"I wanted to ask if she still had a dick under that pretty little black dress".

Why would he ask such personal, demeaning questions about the state of a person's genitals, which had no bearing whatsoever to the case? For shock value. It childishly pleased him to be the one to make everyone in the courtroom realize that, and I quote, "the beautiful woman that everyone in the room had been openly ogling … was a man! A he-she".

Steer clear of this piece of garbage. There are plenty of books on the Gacy murders. Pick literally ANY other one than this one. ...more
5

Feb 09, 2017

Loved it! Very well written. One of the best true crime stories I've read.
5

Jun 19, 2019

I really enjoyed this! I loved Amirante's perspective as Gacy's defense attorney and was thrilled to recognize some substantive law I learned in 1L. Plus, who doesn't want to know more about the killer clown?
0

May 28, 2018

Interesting to see how the lawyers try to have you perceive Gacy's mind and how the jury found him guilty but not insane as many Dr's even confirmed.
3

Dec 02, 2019

It started off really good....and then it fell apart. I found it really engaging until it came to the trial. The trial just kept going, and going, and going. I felt like the same things were repeated over and over. It got to the point where I just started skimming the book, and then I read the last chapter. The language was a little obnoxious, and I felt like at times the author was bragging about how awesome he was. If it weren't for the first half of the book I probably would give this book 1 It started off really good....and then it fell apart. I found it really engaging until it came to the trial. The trial just kept going, and going, and going. I felt like the same things were repeated over and over. It got to the point where I just started skimming the book, and then I read the last chapter. The language was a little obnoxious, and I felt like at times the author was bragging about how awesome he was. If it weren't for the first half of the book I probably would give this book 1 or 2 stars. It was ok. ...more
3

May 24, 2018

This was an insightful look at the trial of John Wayne Gacy. Although I disagree with Amirante and his stance that Gacy is truly insane, the book brought a different perspective on Gacy. Gacy is more likely a very disturbed man with a destructive childhood who hid his secret and acted out brutally and without regard for humanity. Amirante posits that if Gacy's last victim, Rob Piest, hadn't been killed that fateful day in December, it's likely that Gacy may not have been investigated, caught, This was an insightful look at the trial of John Wayne Gacy. Although I disagree with Amirante and his stance that Gacy is truly insane, the book brought a different perspective on Gacy. Gacy is more likely a very disturbed man with a destructive childhood who hid his secret and acted out brutally and without regard for humanity. Amirante posits that if Gacy's last victim, Rob Piest, hadn't been killed that fateful day in December, it's likely that Gacy may not have been investigated, caught, and brought to justice.

I highly recommend this book for any true crime lover. ...more
3

Apr 21, 2019

It was interesting reading about the whole case not just what you got in the news, but I didn’t agree with a lot of the authors points and I didn’t like the name calling about prospective jurors. Yes we had a lot of good men and women that fought and died for a persons right to a fair trial, but they also fought and died so we all had freedom of speech which means stating our opinion if we so choose. I am one that believes Gacy deserved to die. Those boys he killed didn’t get a trail by jury It was interesting reading about the whole case not just what you got in the news, but I didn’t agree with a lot of the authors points and I didn’t like the name calling about prospective jurors. Yes we had a lot of good men and women that fought and died for a persons right to a fair trial, but they also fought and died so we all had freedom of speech which means stating our opinion if we so choose. I am one that believes Gacy deserved to die. Those boys he killed didn’t get a trail by jury before they were executed! And why should the loved ones of those boys have to pay tax money to keep Gacy alive for the rest of his life. ...more

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