A Stranger in the Family: A True Story of Murder, Madness, and Unconditional Love

Overview

In the late 1980s, residents of Georgia and South Carolina were terrorized by a vicious serial rapist and murderer. Unlike most serial killers, who are usually anti-social loners, this killer turned out to be Richard Daniel Starrett, a popular and well-respected "golden boy" from a perfect Southern family. Naifeh and Smith not only give harrowing details of this serial criminal, but also offer troubling insight into the psychology of the American family. HC: Dutton. ...
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Overview

In the late 1980s, residents of Georgia and South Carolina were terrorized by a vicious serial rapist and murderer. Unlike most serial killers, who are usually anti-social loners, this killer turned out to be Richard Daniel Starrett, a popular and well-respected "golden boy" from a perfect Southern family. Naifeh and Smith not only give harrowing details of this serial criminal, but also offer troubling insight into the psychology of the American family. HC: Dutton.

Granted unlimited access to their subjects--Richard Daniel Starret and his family--the authors bring to vivid life the emotional nightmare that began for this model American family the day their son, their brother, their golden boy was arrested for rape and murder. Photos.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
It would be hard to imagine a more atypical serial rapist and murderer than Richard Daniel (``Danny'') Starrett-a handsome, outgoing, considerate, married father of a three-year-old daughter and member of what seemed an ideal American family. We learn early on that he has confessed to five rapes and one murder in Georgia and South Carolina and is now serving 10 consecutive life sentences. Interspersed throughout this account by Naifeh and Smith (Jackson Pollock) is an interior monologue by the rapist presented as ``autobiographical sketches,'' as he tries to come to terms with his crimes. Another important part of this story is the rapist's mother, Gerry, whose frantic efforts were instrumental in saving her son from the electric chair. Gerry gave the authors access to the family as well as to the journals Danny wrote after he was imprisoned. We learn of her gradual acceptance of certain disturbing facts in her own life and how her son's loss of liberty paradoxically freed her from her emotionally inaccessible husband, Richard, and her idealized image of her family. A powerful and perceptive study. True Crime, Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club selections. (June)
Library Journal
Richard Daniel Starrett was the charming, handsome son in a seemingly perfect family, but in 1989, he confessed to a two-year spree of rape and murder. What makes this superbly written account even more striking than most true crime books is the candor Starrett shows in his confessions and diary entries. He confounded his lawyers by insisting on facing the punishment for his crimes, trying to apologize to the victims' families, and cooperating with the FBI in a study of criminal minds. The authors (The Morman Murders, LJ 8/88; Final Justice, LJ 9/15/93) were granted access to Starrett and his family, and the result is a work that presents not only an account of the crimes and what the victims and their families endured but also a look at the heartbreaking ordeal suffered by the criminal's innocent loved ones: guilt, denial, confusion, and ultimately, the agonizing realization of the truth. For all true crime collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/1/95.]-Christine Moesch, Buffalo & Erie Cty. P.L., N.Y.
Sue-Ellen Beauregard
Serial killer Danny Starrett is currently serving consecutive life sentences for the murders of several young women whom he kidnapped, sexually abused, and killed in the 1980s. The unlikely serial sex offender led a seemingly normal middle-class life in Georgia with his obedient Mormon wife and young daughter. While his wife spent long periods of time visiting her parents in California, Starrett went on his murderous sprees. After his arrest, the killer's outspoken mother was indignant. How could her son who had "always been the hero in the family" be guilty of such heinous crimes? Writing both a profile of a serial killer and an examination of the impact of his crimes on his rigid mother, who refused to accept her son's admission of guilt, Naifeh and Smith bring considerable journalistic talent to bear, yet their account lacks the punch of their earlier books, such as "Final Justice" (1993). Nevertheless, true-crime junkies may enjoy reading about another delusional, obsessive killer, particularly the excerpts from his diary that lend some insight into his disturbed mind.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780451406224
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 5/1/1996
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 692,741
  • Product dimensions: 4.30 (w) x 6.90 (h) x 1.20 (d)

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2008

    An unlikely criminal

    Danny Starrett was raised in a good family with loving parents, but somewhere along the line he turned into a sexual predator. The book follows his life story and how his family reacted, especially his mother who bent over backward to keep him out of jail. Some may think the portrayal is too sympathetic but the author explores some possible reasons why the 'nice young man' turned into a sexual deviant.

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