Monster: Steve Jackson
Started: January 8th
Finished: January 10th
I just finished Monster by Steven Jackson and had to share my thoughts on the book. “Monster” is a true crime story that follows mainly the murder case of Cher Elder, and the various crimes committed by Tom Luther.
Writing about murders and crimes isn’t easy. It’s a very fine balance of not being too graphic but not just stating facts that could be found in case documents. You want to keep the readers attention without depending on gore and details to do it. Jackson does a fantastic job of this. There’s only a few times in the book where he’s graphic, and honestly it’s to help you realize what kind of monster Luther is. In order to see the big picture, you need to know just how horrible of a person this man is. The main “character” of the book is the detective who picks up the case, Detective Richardson. He refuses to give up, and even though he has a family of his own, he dedicates all his time to solving the missing person case, turned homicide, of Cher Elder. Once he comes across Tom Luther, he knows he’s found a monster. It’ll take years for the entire puzzle to be solved, including more attacks and murders.
By the time the book reached the trial, I felt I knew the victims. Not only Cher, but the other women who were attacked and thankfully survived. It was because of their will to live and bravery that Luther won’t be able to hurt anyone else. I actually got a little emotional, and even angry, while reading the chapters about the trial. How the defense tried to paint Richardson as a man with a grudge. How one juror kept the conviction from being for 1st Degree murder. And that was another part of the book I found interesting. Seeing what went on, or didn’t go on, behind those doors. Seeing how two years of hard work came together to finally put a real monster behind bars.
Another “character” that I couldn’t wrap my brain around was Deborah Snyder. She was the off again/on again girlfriend of Luther. She had information on the murder of Elder and yet kept it to herself for years. She knew this man was dangerous, and had “two sides” yet she stuck by him. She was some how torn. I just can’t imagine that. I can’t imagine having information on a crime, especially a murder, and not going to the cops right away. And this woman wasn’t stupid. She was a nurse, and even knew that before he was a suspect/person of interest in this case, he was convicted of a rape and assault of another woman prior. This was a bad man. An evil man, yet she still fell for him. And honestly, that’s something that we still see today. In most cases though, these woman “fall” while trials are happening. Or after the criminal has been serving. Just look at Richard Ramirez and most recently, the approved marriage license for Charles Manson. Honestly, with all the studies we do into the minds of the convicted, I’d love to see studies on the women that swoon over them.
I’ve read a lot of true crime books, and over the years my “tastes” in them have changed. No longer am I looking for a book that’s graphic and trying to shock you. Instead I want a book that lays out the facts, still manages to get the point across at how horrible the crimes are, and connects you to those affected by these crimes. “Monster” does all of that. You can tell Steven Jackson did his homework, and it helps that many of those involved helped him put this book together. You can’t fairly tell some of these stories without actual input from those affected. I’m looking forward to checking out some of the other true crime books that he’s written.