Friday, December 25, 2015

The Man in the Monster: An Intimate Portrait of a Serial Killer by Martha Elliott

This is a very hard book to review because it is a very complex and emotional account of a friendship that developed between a journalist and a convicted serial killer. Martha Elliott was originally drawn to the case of Michael Ross because of his request to be executed so that the families of his victims would not have to suffer through another trial.
By the time she first interviewed Michael Ross, he had been taking medication to reduce his violent thoughts and fantasies so she met the man behind the monster. While she did develop a friendship with him over many years she never did forget the horrific crimes he committed. She is very good at conveying her feelings and dilemma as she tried to get to the bottom of why he did what he did and the reason why he wanted the death penalty. She also shows much sympathy for the families who lost their loved ones and is clear in that if he had done that to one of her children she would want to kill him.
What is clear from this book is that there needs to be a review of the legal system especially when the death penalty is involved and also the possibility of mental illness. It is also clear that serial killers cannot be put into one neat little box. The reason someone becomes a serial killer may be different than someone else. There are no neat answers here. The book has given me food for thought (I am undecided on the death penalty) and I never expected anyone to be able to develop a friendship with someone who could commit this type of crime (my own prejudice I had to face). All in all, I think anyone who is for/against/undecided on the death penalty should read this book. You can see both sides of this issue and the issue of how we deal with serial killers. I am still not sure how to feel about the ending of this book but then perhaps for such a serious topic that is fitting. I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley for free in exchange for an honest review.

Four out of Five Stars

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