There is always something that compels fans of “true crime” books. Perhaps it is the macabre look into what otherwise would seem like the average person; which is even more scary than fiction since these are monsters masquerading as the nice neighbor next store. But Unholy Messenger: The Life And Crimes Of The BTK Killer is more of an overview of knowledge all ready publicly known than any in-depth look into the crimes committed by Dennis Rader.
For the uninitiated, this will be a fairly brief rundown of the BTK murders; a profiling of the victims and some of the taunting letters Rader sent the police. It’s also a quick biography of Rader’s life, though the author had no direct access to Rader and offers no real insight into him or his crimes. Then there is Pastor Clark’s theory of demonic possession and a local psychologist (who was at one point a suspect himself) who also doesn’t add much. All this is interwoven into already known facts, which makes Unholy Messenger somewhat of a disappointing read. That is not to say it is all bad. The book is well-written (the cover is eye-catching, as well) and you can go through it pretty fast, but in the end it is more of a light snack then a full meal.
Overall, Unholy Messenger is a solid, entertaining read for neophytes to true crime books. For the true crime veterans, the ones who have more than a few of Ann Rule’s books on their shelves, this one might fall short of expectations if they are running high.