Laughing Gorilla: A True Story of Police Corruption and Murder

Overview

The New York Times bestselling author of Zodiac now uncovers one of the most bizarre cases in the annals of American crime.

San Francisco, 1926: A series of women are slashed to death and dismembered. Incredibly, eyewitness reports claim the perpetrator was a hulking brute with razor-claws for hands who lumbered on all fours and laughed maniacally before shredding the nude flesh of his female victims. The tabloid press called him the Laughing Gorilla and loved every sensational ...

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Overview

The New York Times bestselling author of Zodiac now uncovers one of the most bizarre cases in the annals of American crime.

San Francisco, 1926: A series of women are slashed to death and dismembered. Incredibly, eyewitness reports claim the perpetrator was a hulking brute with razor-claws for hands who lumbered on all fours and laughed maniacally before shredding the nude flesh of his female victims. The tabloid press called him the Laughing Gorilla and loved every sensational beat of the story. For Inspector Charles Dullea of the San Francisco Police, the last honest cop in one of the most notoriously corrupt departments in the country, the serial killings raised a haunting question: who could commit such crimes? Nothing prepared Dullea for the answer.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
A sprawling tale of police corruption and a horrifying series of bizarre, gruesome murders. True-crime vet Graysmith (Amerithrax: The Hunt for the Anthrax Killer, 2003, etc.) paints a vivid portrait of a dynamic era, a Dick Tracy-esque world of gritty cops enforcing order in a fog-shrouded port city. Out of this milieu came the Gorilla Men-a breed apart with broad shoulders, barrel chests, long arms and huge, grasping hands, who drifted across the country and laughingly indulged the murderous impulses flashing behind their vaguely simian features. One was a brain-damaged, Bible-thumping necrophiliac who strangled and dissected his victims. Others autopsied their victims in seedy motels or littered the fringes of society with dismembered torsos. Graysmith includes plenty of sordid details. The book is a vast reservoir of information about dozens of killings and the investigating agents, suspects and witnesses, plus details about labor disputes, graft, Edgar Allan Poe's The Murders in the Rue Morgue, the construction of the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges, prohibition, newspaper and radio production, local architecture, a solar eclipse and more. The story's hero is Captain Charles Dullea-the lead investigator on the original Gorilla Man case and one of the few honest cops on the SFPD-but Graysmith covers so much ground and draws so heavily from the stilted language of official documents that the narrative suffers from repetition and a lack of depth. A compellingly wicked web hard-boiled in broad but shallow waters. Agent: Joel Gotler/IPG
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780425230145
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/6/2009
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Graysmith is the New York Times bestselling author of Zodiac, Zodiac Unmasked, Auto Focus: The Murder of Bob Crane, and Unabomber: A Desire to Kill.

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 19, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Police corruption, scandal and mis-use of power during a 1920's murder investigation in San Francisco.

    Robert Graysmith paints a vivid picture of San Francisco during the late 1920's to 1930's. This is not only the story of Captain Charles Dullea and his rise up the latter to Police Chief but also a history lesson of San Francisco's old Ferry Building. As usual the author does a superb job of researching his subject and gives details accounts of all the players involved. Engrossing to read part murder mystery part history lesson.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 13, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Bridget's Review

    The Gorilla Man was the first serial killer to travel from place to place. After strangling a woman, he would proceed to violate her dead body. Onlookers who saw this beast attacking a woman, said that he laughed like a lunatic and he appeared to be an apelike figure. Most of his victims made the mistake of letting people know that they had a room available in their home.

    Charles Dullea was an honest man and the police captain in San Francisco. He's probably the only honest man on the police force at that time. He was trying to track down this maniac but at the same time was faced with corrupt officers everywhere he looked. He was determined to get this killer off the streets but what he found shocked him more than his fellow crooked cops.

    I don't know what to say except that I loved this book! Certain things were hard to read because it is based on a true story. If you like to read about bad cops and murderers, pick this book up! You won't want to miss it. Now I'm going to have to purchase Robert's other books, ZODIAC and ZODIAC UNMASKED.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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