Disturbing look at capital punishment

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

I’m sure this non-fiction book was a very personal and difficult one for the author to write.  She befriended a serial killer and seeks to expose the man inside the monster.  I’m not at all sure she accomplished that.  It was very hard to determine whether anything this killer said or did was the truth or whether he was manipulating others, including the author.  By the end of the book, I had little sympathy for this man.


The main debate in the book is whether a killer who is mentally ill should be executed and whether a sex sadist should be considered mentally ill.  I don’t believe the author brought anything new to the debate.  It’s a very difficult question and one that’s hard to pin down any answers.  One of the victims’ father said that he didn’t believe Michael Ross was mentally ill and incapable of making choices as he was able to control his murderous impulses at times.  But I don’t think anyone is ever going to be able to fully understand the mind of a killer, even one who was interviewed for as many years as this one was.


The author is a very good writer and does present both sides of the story, even while making it obvious which side she is on.  It was an interesting read, but personally, I didn’t believe much of the killer’s reasonings or excuses as to why he became what he did.


This book was given to me by First to Read in exchange for my honest review.