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David A. Schwinghammer

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· Soldier's Gap

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The Zodiac killer (book review)
By David A. Schwinghammer
Last edited: Monday, October 12, 2009
Posted: Monday, October 12, 2009

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Recent articles by
David A. Schwinghammer

• The God Particle
• The Wilderness of Ruin, book review
• SOLDIER'S GAP (book review)
• A Beautiful Mind, book review
• Another Planet, book review
• The Three Stooges, book review
           >> View all 149
Graysmith knows more about the Zodiac killer than any man/woman alive and he doesn't hesitate to mention a suspect.

Robert Graysmith is no Vincent Bugliosi, but he does know more about the Zodiac killings than anybody else on the planet. The detail about each of the five known killings is incredible, and Graysmith unearths another killing that occurred in Riverside prior to the Zodiac killings that may have been committed by the same person. And he does come up with a likely suspect.

Prior to reading ZODIAC, I rented the David Fincher movie. I was expecting the movie to follow the book pretty closely, but there are some composite characters in the movie. Graysmith tells us about three main suspects; whereas, there were only two in the movie. Graysmith also speculates (pretty much believes) that Zodiac went right on killing after the murder of cab driver Paul Lee Stine. He lists 41 possible Zodiac murders, the last one occurring in 1981. Graysmith also had access to the Zodiac letters in which the murderer claimed credit for many more murders than those generally attributed to him.

Graysmith has some annoying habits. For one thing, he describes every stitch of clothing one of the early murder victims is wearing. He's also awfully skittish about using real names. So many people are given pseudonyms this might as well be fiction. Later on he goes into elaborate detail about the phases of the moon, and how the Zodiac could have been planning his murderers to correspond with them. Then there's the sycophantic description of Filcher's movie as an addendum to the book. Here's Graysmith's description of Filcher's attention to detail: "His eye is calculating, more precise than any mechanical optics."

Something else that I find puzzling was the police's inability to keep track of two of the victims who lived through Zodiac attacks, Mike Mageau and Kathleen Johns. Kathleen got a really good look at him. I would have liked to see a "where are they now" epilogue concerning some of the major characters. Mageau is barely mentioned, strange since he supposedly identified the man who tried to kill him. I would imagine that's covered in ZODIAC UNMASKED, the follow-up.


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David A. Schwinghammer

Soldier's Gap

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