Right off the bat I want to say that this isn’t a true crime book about some serial killer from the 1970s that no one remembers. This happened within the last few years. A spree that went from 1996 to 2012 to be exact. Right under all our noses. And you could have been a victim. I could have been. This is a total mindf*ck. One of the smartest killers I’ve ever read about. Which says a lot considering I got a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice and interview violent felons for a living.
Israel Keyes hunted and hated humans. Former military, Keyes knew how to use weapons and his gigantic body to take an innocent person down. How often do we hear about a serial killer with no MO? Who just killed anyone, and did it for sport. It’s rare. Most serial killers have their targets or fetishes; Son of Sam killed young couples, Ed Kemper killed female college students, the Manson Family killed well-off people in the Hollywood Hills, etc. Keyes, born from holy roller parents and living in Alaska, was more like Richard Ramirez (aka Night Stalker) in that the only prerequisite for being a victim was that you breathed. Keyes murdered just to murder. He killed in Alaska, New Jersey, New York, Washington, Vermont. During the day and at night. Keyes tortured, raped, mutilated, and killed people-men and women- across the United States, and I bet you’ve never heard of him. Right?
If you haven’t heard of Keyes, don’t feel bad…there’s a good reason why. The author of this terrifying account, Maureen Callahan, had to go to court and battle with the feds for information that is usually readily available to investigative journalists. Not only is law enforcement tight lipped about the havoc this monster caused, Keyes himself refused to cooperate unless he was promised his name would be kept out of the news. Because he didn’t want his daughter or family to be traumatized. All of a sudden dude is caring and sentimental. And the feds agree to Keyes’ terms because he promised them he’d help them find the bodies of his victims. The problem here is you never bargain with the bad guy, especially one as calculating as Israel Keyes. Never give them that control. In the interrogations of Keyes that Callahan puts in this book, you can see how he’s toying with law enforcement and how they let him. And I can criticize their techniques because interrogating and interviewing criminals is what I do for a living. These officers were afraid of him. What a mess. He loved it.
So, instead of another documentary about how handsome Ted Bundy was (and btw, he wasn’t, give me a break) or how gross Jeffrey Dahmer’s eating habits were, the powers that be should focus on homicides perpetrated by monsters like Keyes. Like I said, Keyes’ crimes did not happen that long ago, and people like him need to be looked at because the nut used modern technology and the internet to map out his targets. He used the FBI’s own techniques to figure out a way to make it so crimes were either never investigated or discovered. This guy is all the way in remote Alaska with the bears and the eagles, and he’s using the internet to meticulously research towns in states (and counties) thousands of miles away. He knew of communities with little to no police force, every camera placement and angle in town so he could park or stand without being recorded or detected, every way in which he could use natural elements in whatever state he chose to his advantage. This man only got caught because he wanted to get caught. Period.
This is a well written page-turner. Callahan did her research, much to the chagrin of law enforcement. What Keyes did to his victims is downright chilling, shocking, and gruesome. I felt for these victims, and it hurts to know how much they suffered. Worse knowing there are some who will never be found.
If you are interested in true crime, this is a must-read. Prepare to be freaked out.
Rating: 4/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️