Review: Lust Killer by Ann Rule

cover of Lust Killer by Ann RuleLust Killer by Ann Rule 
Berkley (May 2022)
288 pages; paperback $12.00; e-book $6.99
Reviewed by Haley Newlin

“In the face of cruel madness, calm, sane steps must be taken.” – Ann Rule

Ann Rule once again proves she is the exemplar of true crime books. After reading Rule’s The Stranger Beside Me: Ted Bundy: The Shocking Inside Story, one of her most famous and intimately written true crime tales, I knew I had to read more of her work.

Admittedly, I expected not to be nearly as hooked on Lust Killer as I had been with Rule’s Ted Bundy story, fearing that some of the rapport of the latter would create far too great a void.

I did miss the elicited letters and strange phone calls Rule included in The Stranger Beside Me. However, Lust Killer makes up for it in criminal and psychological theory, witness/victim accounts, and as always, Rule’s profound attention to detail and evocation of emotion. In the case of Jerry Brudos, or “The Lust Killer,” Rule demonstrates a spine-tingling, maddening web of terror while still harnessing the immense, crushing weight of loss and law enforcement’s desperation.

Jerry Brudos, an irascible serial killer, noted for his strange obsession with women’s high-heeled shoes, panties, bras, and slips, at times, aligned with the monstrous yet brilliant mind of Ted Bundy. I found the parallels disturbing and damning — highlighting the notion that while the lust killer is a breed unto himself, he creates, he lurks, and he’s infinite.

The bloody threads of serial murder didn’t end with Bundy and Brudos but did continue to create a shared language and improvement in detective and criminal processes. With a genuine and intelligent voice, Rule captured the modus operandi of Brudos — bludgeoning and strangling victims, photographing them pre- and post-mortem, dressing them in his collections of ladies’ garments, especially shoes, and taking limbs as grisly trophies.

Rule also explores the juggernaut of perversion in which Brudos, or “The Shoe Fetish Slayer,” evolved — beginning with Brudos’s resentment toward women, manifesting (of course) from his mother. It’s interesting to see how mothers, especially of male criminals, shape a killer’s victim profile and M.O.

I believe that law enforcement now understands hatred of women as a crucial indicator of a serial killer because of Rule’s writing.

Overall, Lust Killer is a must-read for true-crime readers and anyone with a burning, morbid curiosity about the inner mechanics of a grossly unhinged mind of a killer.

I’m looking forward to reading The I-5 Killer soon.

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