The Misbegotten Son

  • by Jack Olsen
  • Narrated by Kevin Pierce
  • 18 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

An account of the crimes of Arthur Shawcross describes how the paroled child killer shot, stabbed, suffocated, and strangled 16 Rochester, New York, prostitutes and examines how the legal system failed his victims.


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Customer Reviews

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Not the Typical True Crime Book

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As this narrative begins, you aren't sure whose story this is. It starts with Jack, the first victim of Arthur Shawcross. Throughout the book, the author gives us the stories of the victims and their families, as well as the perspectives of the detectives, Shawcross's lovers, wives, and mother. The result is as fully a realized picture of the madman as can be had.

Even with all of the detail, it is clear that the author--and nobody else for that matter--understood what made this serial killer tick. Child rape and murder, murder and mutilation of prostitutes, cannibalism, and necrophilia--this man did it all, and at the end no one is sure why. Even the murderer himself seems baffled by his crimes.

Compared to the Green River Running Red and BTK, two books I've recently read about serial murderers, this book left me feeling more remote from the killer and his crimes. The reader was never given entrance into Shawcross's head in the same way as we were allowed to examine Gary Ridgeway and Dennis Rader. At the end of Misbegotten Son, a psychiatrist gives two theories about how a man like Arthur Shawcross could have developed, and I think that his ideas are an interesting perspective, but not a conclusion.

Narrating this book must have been incredibly demanding. The diverse formats (interview, letter, testimony, written account, etc.) combined with an overcrowded cast of perspectives to make this engaging for the reader--but a nightmare for the man tasked with giving them all voice! Kevin Pierce, as always, did a magnificent job. He was able to portray both sides of Arthur Shawcross: the altruistic, childlike outdoors-man and the sadistic, victim-blaming, rage filled murderer. Especially in the portions of the text where Shawcross is describing his crimes in written or audio-recorded accounts, Pierce uses his talents to illustrate the murderer as a petulant lunatic with a sub-normal IQ without creating a caricature.

Non-fiction of any kind does not lend itself to an overly dramatized style of narration. That's why Kevin Pierce is one of my favorites; his is always a subtle yet engaging narration that illuminates rather than dramatizes the characters.

This book has everything: the gory details, the heart-rending effects of a murderous rampage on the victims' and the murderer's families, and the history and analysis of what makes a killer. Even with all that, though, the book generates as many questions as answers.

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- Angela

I may have found a new g

This was my first foray into true crime. I wasn't sure what to expect, but as an avid watcher of Investigation Discovery I was right at home. Surprisingly I was never bored even though it was just focused on one person. Pierce has one of those pleasant voices that still exudes authority without being abrasive. Olsen has clearly done his research and weaves a compelling illustration of the tragedy that was the life and actions of Arthur John Shawcross. Having no other experience with the genre for comparison I cannot tell you if this is an exceptional true crime experience or not/ Regardless I enjoyed it immensely. This audiobook was provided by the author, narrator, or publisher at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review courtesy of Audiobook Blast.
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- Derek

Book Details

  • Release Date: 12-04-2015
  • Publisher: Jack Olsen Literary Works, LLC