Wednesday, April 22, 2009

True Crime: The Beauty Queen Killer

(Bruce Gibney, Pinacle, 1990)
Any regular reader of True Crime books should be familiar with Pinnacle Books and their never changing quality. True Jack Webb “Just the facts, Ma’am” publications, based mostly on newspaper research, fleshed out by police reports, normally lacking any on-site research or noticeable psychological insight. This book is no exception, right down the company’s tendency for second-rate editorial work: more than one sentence in this book is incomplete, more than one pronoun is indirect. (But then, what else can be expected from a company that even misspells its own name on the book’s cover, forgetting the second “n” in the word “Pinnacle.“)
First printed in 1984, the same year that the killings transpired and probably concurrently to some of the victim’s funerals, this book dryly narrates the 26+ day cross-country murder spree of Chris Wilder, an Australian-raised American builder. (Gibney refers to both a six-week, 47 day and 26 day time period, so take your pick.) Starting down in Florida, where he lived at the time, Wilder went on throughout the USA, killing a large number of young, hot looking all-American young women along the way before killing himself in a backwoods hamlet in Connecticut just as some police were about to bag him. The actual amount of murders and related sex crimes he may have committed is unknown, for there is more than enough evidence to suggest that he had been committing such crimes both in Australia and in the USA for many years previously, if not for much of his adult life. Easy reading padded with a totally unnecessary article about some True Crime Reporter’s less than successful use of a psychic to discover the unlocated bodies of two of Wilder’s victims, as well as the Psychological Reports made by the two shrinks who examined him prior to his final joy ride. That Wilder was one sick man is obvious, but the when, where, why, what and how he became so isn’t to be found in this book; even the psychological reports are not of much help, as they fail to agree on what’s going down in the man’s head. As to be expected, Gibney takes the easy if not somewhat true stance that American justice screwed up again by not realizing earlier just how sick this known sex-offender was and stopping him before he left his body strewn path across the 48 continental states. Regrettably, and also to be expected, he offers no feasible suggestions on what should be corrected—but then, that might be expecting too much from a supermarket pulp quickie like this one.
In any event, before you blow your hard-earned 50 cents at the next church swap meet on this piece of trash, go to this website for a better, more factual (and, needless to say, up-to-date) version of the events.

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