Monday Book Review: The Will To Kill

I just finished The Will to Kill: Making Sense of Senseless Murder by James Alan Fox and Jack Levin. I picked this one up on the spur of the moment, thinking it might be good research for my upcoming Nano novel. It was in fact excellent research.

Unlike The Sociopath Next Door, Fox and Levin pack this short read with real evidence, statistics, and only a smidge of their own analysis. They fictionalize nothing. They aim to deliver a straight forward narrative which presents the facts on senseless murders including school shootings, work places shootings, other mass murder, serial killers, family annihilators, hate crimes, etc.

They discuss changes in crime, it’s gone down by the way, pretty much across the board since the 80s. They discuss changes in crime related law especially in the areas of insanity and juvenile crime. I very much enjoyed all the studies they included which were properly cited regarding the nature of crime. Did you know that serial killers are much more likely to be white males in their late twenties and early thirties(84-95% depending on the study), their victims are likely to be white females(80%). Did you know 20% of serial killers operate in teams and that these teams are more likely to torture their victims than a serial killer operating alone?

I have only one bone to pick with this work. Ok, two bones. First, it’s dry. Like Antarctica dry. But given the heavy statistical nature of the work, I can overlook that.

Second, in the section on hate crime they start with some statistics for a given set of years. Anti-black, Anti-gay, and anti-white hate crimes were about tied in numbers (29, 33, 27) but when they give examples, a dozen stories not tied to domestic terrorism, only one is about an anti-white crime. Seems rather biased. I don’t know if this is an issue with the authors or one of the media saturated world they are writing in. But it bothered me. If it’s happening, and I have no reason to disbelieve the statistics they provided, then let’s talk about it. All of it.

I took copious notes. I don’t know how much use the statistics will be come November but the general characteristics will build my serial killer nicely. Guess he’ll be white, male, young, and reasonably uneducated. Too bad I’m going to flaunt the law of averages and make his victims male.

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