Book Look: The Last Victim

     I started my list! I kind of forgot I had ordered a few books before I started making my list, so I've been attempting to work through those, but I did manage to get my hands on The Last Victim by Jason Moss. It's one of the few non-fiction books I've picked up willingly, and I'll admit my hopes were very high. It made a handful of "horror must read" lists and several reviewers had reported being "chilled" by some of the descriptions in the book. I was so ready to get chilly with them.

     I was disappointed because this in not a novel I'd even think to list on a horror must read list. At age eighteen, Jason made the decision to become John Wayne Gacy's penpal, and the novel delves into the relationship he built with the man - and other men like him - under the premise of acting like the sort of person the serial killer would victimize. He willingly put himself in those shoes in order to attempt to understand the way the man thinks, to see what it would be like...I can't be the only person sitting here thinking, "what an idiot."

     This kid played with fire for what seemed like a thrill and, sure, he ended up making it part of a big freshman presentation for college and, with the help of one of his professors, went on to write a book about it. Is it illuminating? Sure, he got into these men's minds and brought us into the psyches of men who commit terrible crimes. He put himself and his family in danger, whether he thought so or not, with thrill-seeking behavior because...what? He was bored? Weird? Because he could?

Why are you taking that sort of risk with your life? These people are expert manipulators, he's lucky he made it out with only a little mental scarring. I got well into the book before I just had to be done, I couldn't live with being in this dude's mind for one more minute...and not even because of the things he encountered in writing to these men, I had to stop because I thought he was stupid. Gacy went as far as to suggest Jason undertaking an incestuous relationship with his younger brother and, honestly, that's no worse than the shit I see on the news or prime time television--not that I watch much of either anymore.

If you're looking for a decent true crime non-fiction novel, then sure, pick this up. It's all right at best. The writing is good, the main character is barely likable, but I guess no one is really likable at eighteen. I dunno. I just couldn't get behind Jason's reasoning for doing what he did, the project may have been shocking for the time, but in the world we're living in's just another term paper, I'm afraid.

I guess I'd give this a 4/10 because I liked the writing, even though I came to hate what I was reading. I don't even think I'd bother recommending it to my friends who read and enjoy this kind of thing. If they came to me and asked me about it, sure, I'd say it may be worth a weekend.


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