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Son is a work of true crime genius. This is the story of Fred (Kevin) Coe, the infamous south hill rapist in Spokane Washington, who viciously attacked dozens of women over the course of several years back in the mid-late 1970's. The book reveals Coe's psychopathy through meticulously recounted anecdotes of Coe's public behavior in context with the reactions of those who knew him, and his persona while committing crimes, as witnessed by his victims. It is gives a maddening look at law enforcement, and its resistance toward investigating rape, it's discounting of the affects on victims and their families. Also it presents a harrowing account of the emotional and physical affect of rape upon victims, and the lingering trauma and the difficulty of recovering from it.
The book presents a case history of a true psychopath, one of those rare individuals who has no personality--but who adapts his mask to various situations in life, a parasite. Coe uses everyone around him for money, for access to cars and clothes, who shoplifts porterhouse steaks, who has a slick line of BS when he's caught in one lie or another. I've never read a clearer account of a psychopathic mindset, one that is presented through the accumulation of evidence, rather than theorizing, and so you're able to see it, hold it in your hands--it becomes real. Brilliant.
The last section of the book, after Coe's arrest, is one of the most interesting parts, because it switches attention to the psychopathy of Coe's mother, Ruth, which is revealed in her reactions and behaviors during Son's (her name for him) trial. And so the question you're left with is did Ruth cause Fred's sickness or was it the other way around? Or were they BOTH born that way? Fascinating stuff.
Kevin Pierce is one of my favorite readers. His voice is perfect for true crime. He's a born storyteller. His special talent IMO is that he always is able to convey the pain and distress of the victims and their families. He's really great.
Strongly recommend this book for anyone wishing to learn more about psychopathy, or the history of Spokane Washington, or who's interested in true crime and law enforcement.
I have long had a fascination with psychopaths ever since I got my Masters in Psychology. As a result, this book sounded like it would be interesting so I took a chance. At the very start, I though I might have made a mistake, as the author described one rape incident after another--I couldn't imagine listening to that for so many hours.
Fear not. This book is so much more than just crime descriptions. It is an in-depth character study of Fred Coe, his parents, Ruth and Gordon Coe, and his two flames, Jenny and Ginny. (I soon realized I had to listen carefully to know which woman was being discussed.)
It's not a pleasant subject, rape. How could it be? And in some way, listening to a long story about a psychopathic rapist made me want to take more showers than I already do. But at some point, early on, the book captured me to an extent no other book has done before and in different ways. I began looking for ways to put aside time to keep listening, and I felt helpless to stop!
Coe has all the classic behaviors of a psychopath. The author frequently quotes short excerpts from authors/psychologists on the nature on the condition. Not only was Fred Coe fascinating, so were his parents, Ruth and Gordon Coe. Ruth was at times child-like, flamboyant, manic, subdued, but more often, as evil as the devil. Gordon was totally disassociated from his family for the most part, just going off to work and tuning out. He was no match for such a strong personality as Ruth and just let her run the show. Learning about them both brought to me a small amount of sympathy for their son. Maybe not so much sympathy but more of an understanding of why he developed into who he was.
In addition to the character studies, you will be treated to a detailed description of trial time which is also fascinating. Fred Coe is very intelligent and he innately knew in what direction to take his defense. I won't even mention what I think of defense attorneys, despite acknowledging their role as being necessary.
As wonderful and addictive as this book is, be prepared to get MAD. You will get furious at Fred Coe and his mother. You will be mad at the passivity of his father. You will be angry at his girlfriend, Jenny, and even more at Ginny, who married and lived with him during the time he was at his most active in crime. I wanted to scream at her and shake her! You will be mad at the law enforcement of Spokane for their lackadaisical attitude about rape and their refusal to warn the public of the menace for so long. You will be mad at the women of Spokane for continuing to put themselves in harm's way, jogging alone in isolated places and not using their brains to protect themselves. One woman's behavior in particular floored me--wait and see. Continuing along the same line, you will be mad at the defense attorneys and the supposed expert witnesses. I swear, you can get an expert to say anything you want for the right price. And don't be so sure all judges have the brains they were born with either.
So why read a book that makes you so mad? It is extremely well-researched and presented. It was perfectly narrated. There is a certain amount of satisfaction at the end and justice is served, to an large extent. For me, Son is a book that was impossible to put down. It made me feel, it made me think. Sometimes that is just what I need from a book.