Review: THE LAST BOOK ON THE LEFT: Stories of Murder and Mayhem from History’s Most Notorious Serial Killers by Ben Kissel, Marcus Parks, and Henry Zebrowski (2020)

Rating: 4/5 stars
Genre: Adult Crime Nonfiction
Year Release: 2020
Source: Library Audiobook

Listened to the audiobook
Trigger warning: sexual assault, murder, body horror, cannibalism, and the depravity of history’s most notorious serial killers

I’ve been listening to Last Podcast on the Left (LPotL) for a while now. What keeps me coming back to them is the depth of research that goes into the episodes (especially the multi-part stories) and the way they portray the heinous murderers from past and present as the losers they are. There’s nothing to admire with these folks and LPotL loves to use humor to strip these monsters of any “rock star” status they might have acquired as a fascination with true crime had gone mainstream.

This book covers: Ted Bundy, Richard Chase, Ed Gein, John Wayne Gacy, Richard Ramirez, David Berkowitz, BTK, Andrei Chikatilo, and Jeffrey Dahmer. These heinous villains eras past have a full chapter devoted to each other, starting from childhood going all the way through their demise. While there is much focus on the severity of the crimes, there are also many details provided about the victims, but, most importantly, the structural failings of the American justice system (with the exception of Chikatilo, who was active in the U.S.S.R.). There is also so much time spent on contextualizing America (and Russia) at the time of the murders, the kinds of behaviors and attitudes which let these crimes slip through the cracks, and persist to monstrous notoriety. It’s clear that Parks did most of the writing, but Zebrowski and Kissell do make asides that ease some of the tension and terror.

Respect for the art of research and an enthusiasm about covering the macabre with the same blunt humor permeates off the page. If you’re a fan of the podcast, you will be a fan of the book.