Book Review - Dead Men Walking: True Stories of the Most Evil Men and Women on Death Row by Christopher Berry-Dee and Tony Brown
Dead Men Walking: True Stories of the Most Evil Men and Women on Death Row by Christopher Berry-Dee and Tony Brown showed up as a new acquisition by our local library, and I put myself on the hold list for it. As I was reading it yesterday, about halfway through I started asking myself "why?" Not as in "why am I reading this?" (although one could probably make a case for that question also), but "why" as in "why did they write this?"
On the flyleaf, it's stated that this is an examination of the difference between "monster and man", as well as tracing "the often blurry line between justice and murder." If this book was focused on one or two cases, I might have felt like it met that criteria. If you dig deep enough into the life and background of a killer, you can often find the thread that led them to their eventual outcome. But in Dead Men Walking, you get a handful of pages on a number of different killers. In that amount of space, there's plenty of room to go into graphical detail about their crimes and brutality. And Berry-Dee and Brown get those details down quite well. But in many cases, the analysis and insight into the killer's motives tends to be glossed over, in my opinion. A few of the cases go deeper than the others, and in those there's more analysis as to what might have warped the killer along the way. But that felt like it was more the exception than the rule.
"Voyeur" is about the only way I can describe this work. People can be incredibly cruel and sick, doing things that a rational person can't even begin to imagine. To collect a number of stories like these in one place almost borders on being "adult pr0n" for crime. In terms of writing and research, the authors did their job well. But in terms of value and analysis, I still come back to the question of "why"...