By Reason of Insanity

( 16 )

Overview

At the center of this gripping epic novel of mass murder, pursuit, and psychological terror is Thomas Bishop, a psychotic young killer who believes he is the son of Caryl Chessman, who was executed for rape in California amid intense controversy. Subjected to unmerciful physical and mental torture from an early age, Bishop kills his mother at the age of 10 and is placed in an institution for the criminally insane. He grows to manhood knowing the outside world only through a television screen. At 25, he succeeds ...

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Overview

At the center of this gripping epic novel of mass murder, pursuit, and psychological terror is Thomas Bishop, a psychotic young killer who believes he is the son of Caryl Chessman, who was executed for rape in California amid intense controversy. Subjected to unmerciful physical and mental torture from an early age, Bishop kills his mother at the age of 10 and is placed in an institution for the criminally insane. He grows to manhood knowing the outside world only through a television screen. At 25, he succeeds in a brilliant escape and change of identity and begins to move across the country, murdering women in particularly gruesome ways. Pursued by reporters, police, and the mob, Bishop manages to elude them all, and the search for him becomes the greatest manhunt in U.S. history. Stevens takes the reader on a harrowing descent into the mind of a mass murderer in this eerily realistic serial-killer novel. The chilling denouement will hold readers spellbound until the shattering, unforgettable conclusion.

Thomas Bishop was 25 when he escaped from an institution for the criminally insane. Behind was a grotesque history of pain, murder and abiding rage. Ahead lay a path of vengeance, a reign of terror that only the greatest manhunt in U.S. history could stop. Reissue.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Shane Stevens's By Reason of Insanity is The Godfather of serial-killer novels -- the first and still the best. What sets this apart from all the books that would come after is the quality of the prose and the almost Old Testament flavor of the writing. There are long sequences in which the killer studies other killers -- most notably Caryl Chessman -- and reaches a moment of insight into evil that transcends all other crime fiction I've read. A brilliant and lacerating novel unlike any you've ever read -- and one you'll never forget. I promise.

—Ed Gorman

From the Publisher

“One of the finest novels ever written about perfect evil . . . I recommend it unreservedly.”  —Stephen King

“Compelling and genuinely frightening. You have to keep remembering it’s only a story. You won’t be able to put it down.”  —The Boston Globe

“Extremely effective.”  —The New York Times

“Irresistible, unrelenting suspense . . . Stevens creates a ‘monster’ for our time.”  —Chicago Tribune

“One of the five greatest crime novels of the century.”  —Mystery Scene

“Pure entertainment at its thrilling best.”  —United Press International

“A classic thriller, a gripping suspense story, a massive mystery.”  —San Diego Union-Tribune

“The best psycho-killer novel.”  —ShelfLife

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781556526626
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 5/28/2007
  • Series: Rediscovered Classics Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 512
  • Sales rank: 332,723
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.28 (d)

Meet the Author

Shane Stevens is the author of numerous books, including The Anvil Chorus, Dead City, Go Down Dead, Rat Pack, and Way Uptown in Another World.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 16 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(13)

4 Star

(2)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

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1 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 16 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 30, 2013

    This was the best thriller that I have ever read which was in th

    This was the best thriller that I have ever read which was in the early 80's another book I read around the same time was Whispers by Dean Koontz this was when Book Of The Month was the thing lol

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  • Posted July 16, 2012

    This is one of my all time favorite books. I've loaned out 3 cop

    This is one of my all time favorite books. I've loaned out 3 copies and all have been ruined by their charges. The story is so complex, The 2 main characters are rich, 3 dimensional, and compelling. It's a must have for mystery/ thriller readers to keep in their library. This is a masterpiece

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  • Posted January 19, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    Justly Praised as Among the Best of Genre

    Thomas Bishop is a killing machine and Adam Kenton is his relentless pursuer. Bishop is a wily psychopath, tortured by his mother as child, now an irreconcilable woman-hater, who escapes from a mental institution, where he has resided since killing his mother and burning up her body at 10. He escapes at 25 and goes on a terrifying cross-country killing spree, waging a war against women. Adam Kenton is a journalist, a mad dog in his own right, demanding of himself and demanding justice for society. How they relate to each other and finally meet in the end provides the fast-paced forward motion of the book. Bishop kills viciously, eviscerating his victims and wallowing in their blood. There's much brutality described uncompromisingly, as well sex, and a large cast of characters -- journalists, cops, politicians -- all with their own complements of flaws, all human and common, and all with us today. What sets the novel apart is Stevens' ability to plumb the psychological depths of Bishop's demented mind until, in the end, you feel a bit of sympathy for the character, as evil as he is. Highly recommended for those who like the serial killer genre and those interested in the abnormal mind, as well as those who see every human being in need of a bit of redemption from self-interest. On this score, you'll find how Stevens' weaves political corruption and Watergate paranoia into the story fascinating. Other novels that put you directly into the mind of a serial killer and that are excellent examples of the genre include: THE KILLER INSIDE ME by Jim Thompson, ZOMIBIE by Joyce Carol Oates, I, KILLER by David Valentino. Each is different in how the authors' probe the psychology of a serial killer's mind. But is each similar as they are first person tales, and as a result more intimate than Stevens' work.

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  • Posted December 6, 2010

    I could not put it down

    I was in junior college taking criminal justice back in the late 70's and this book was suggested reading. I wasn't into reading, but I bought it, and could not put it down. when I finished it, I wanted more. you won't be disappointed

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  • Posted June 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    hard to put down

    i remember when i 1st read this book. i dont think i have ever read 1 that can rate up 2 shanes stevens by reason of insanity & i am talkin bout a book i read over 20+yrs ago. still till this day i can remember everythin bout it & what its bout. insanity can really b dangerous especially when it comes 2 bein thomas bishop, an 25yr old escaped mental patient. thomas is a very intelligent character who is also a mass murderer. what made him this way & makes him tick is very surprising. he has just bout everybody on his trail .... reporters, the mob, police..... & ends up b n 1 of greatest manhunt killers in america. hes like a number of real life serial killers all wrapped up n2 1. u decide which 1's he makes u think of. i have always (and still do) recommeneded this book 2 others & havent heard 1 complaint. just doin this review has tempted me 2 read it again.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2010

    Interesting book so far

    I am about 3/4 of the way through this book and it has kept me really interested. Fascinating twists and turns and the insights into the mind of a madman are curious. I have no clue how the book will end but hope it has a true ending and not something unclear or open ended.
    I dont find the book terrifying but just a view into one crazy man's vision.
    So far - definitely worth reading.

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  • Posted April 26, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    I was given this book by a family member and couldn't put it down. Silence of the lambs is a birthday party compare to this book. Love it trying to find it again because the book that was given to me went missing from my collection.

    Excellent in scaring the reader. Put yourself right in the story. You can be one of the characters as you read with the detectives on the case.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2009

    This book is awesome!

    I first read this book when it was first published in the 70's. I have read it every year since then. After all this time I'm still not sure of the ending!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2007

    One of, if not the best serial killer novels ever

    I bought and read this book when it was originally published way back in the 70's and after all these years I have yet to read another serial killer thriller type book that equals it. Why this was never made into a movie is beyond me. If Silence of the Lambs gave you the chills and you enjoy serial killer thrillers then you'll love this. It's no doubt the Grand Daddy of them all! Belongs in the Hall of Fame for serial killer novels...highly recommended!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2007

    WICKED AWESOME

    I have read this book 5x going on 6, and still cannot believe the depth and realty of the character - and the possibility that something like this could actually happen. I still find things that I've overlooked in past readings, and enjoy the 'thrill of the hunt' through the eyes of the investigators.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 12, 2005

    I could never forget this book, it is great

    I was a teenager when I read this book, I have never forgot it, it is fantastic, I have bought the book maybe three times after that and I always lend out, but never get it back, when I get it again I will not lend it out to no one, for me it is a classic, it is one of the best book that I have read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 9, 2004

    fantastic

    i read this novel sometime in 1985.i borrowed a friend who has refused to give it back to me. the author must be a psycologist or somebody who has lived with mad people before it is an outstanding novel

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2003

    Fear and enthrallment!!!**********

    This book is wonderful! I read it in 99' and I am going to read it again and buy a copy for a friend. I believe the Author, either did alot of research on the criminally insane or is indeed insane himself, because I think of Thomas Bishop whenever I meet a cute stranger with a beautiful smile. Read this book!! i promise you, you will not be disappointed.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2002

    MUST READ!!!

    Absolutely THE SCARIEST BOOK ever written-the reader is pulled into a vacuum with the first sentence and enveloped in the horror as if he were the one needing the straight jacket. Impossible to put down, but when you finish, you are compelled to read it again.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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