The Most Dangerous Animal of All

( 35 )

Overview

An explosive and historic book of true crime and an emotionally powerful and revelatory memoir of a man whose ten-year search for his biological father leads to a chilling discovery: His father is one of the most notorious-and still at large-serial killers in America.

Soon after his birthmother contacted him for the first time at the age of thirty-nine, adoptee Gary L. Stewart decided to search for his biological father. It was a quest that would lead him to a horrifying truth ...

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The Most Dangerous Animal of All: Searching for My Father . . . and Finding the Zodiac Killer

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Overview

An explosive and historic book of true crime and an emotionally powerful and revelatory memoir of a man whose ten-year search for his biological father leads to a chilling discovery: His father is one of the most notorious-and still at large-serial killers in America.

Soon after his birthmother contacted him for the first time at the age of thirty-nine, adoptee Gary L. Stewart decided to search for his biological father. It was a quest that would lead him to a horrifying truth and force him to reconsider everything he thought he knew about himself and his world.

Written with award-winning author and journalist Susan D. Mustafa, The Most Dangerous Animal of All tells the story of Stewart's decade-long search for his father following a complex trail of startling twists and connections. Combing through government records and news reports and through conversations with his father's relatives and friends, Stewart turns up a host of clues, including forensic evidence, identifying his father as one of the most infamous and still-wanted serial killers in American history.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

The central paradox about true crime books is that although serial killers are among the least interesting human beings, our fascination with the excitement of tracking down these obsessive monsters has actually spawned thousands of books, movies, and television shows, real or imagined, about them. Several habitual murderers have returned the favor by taunting us with codes and clues about themselves, none more defiantly than California's so-called Zodiac Killer. In this extraordinarily intimate memoir, author Gary Stewart went searching for his father and became convinced that the man he found had been the dreaded Zodiac. Thus, his hunt for clues is more personal than any detective's, making it stranger and more knotty than a narrative fixated on the now deceased accused culprit. The Most Dangerous Animal of All is not your conventional true crime book; for me, that makes it more winning.
-R.J. Wilson, Bookseller, #1002, New York NY

Publishers Weekly
06/02/2014
When an author purports to have uncovered the truth about a notorious unsolved series of murders, let alone that the killer was his own father, it's vital to establish credibility from the outset; unfortunately, Stewart's concession that the narrative "of father's early life" is fictionalized gets things started badly. The unreliability of those sections is a significant drawback that engenders skepticism long before Stewart presents any evidence to support his claim that his biological father, who abandoned him as an infant, was responsible for the murders that terrorized San Francisco in the 1960s. And that evidence is far less impressive than Stewart believes—a resemblance between a wanted poster's image and a picture of his father, a tortured interpretation of a coded message, some ambiguous partial fingerprint, and handwriting evidence. The motive for the crimes-ostensibly the enactment of revenge fantasies on young women resembling Stewart's mother—is also unconvincing, as the author fails to even address the killing of a cabbie that could not have been so motivated. The kicker is the decision to publish before DNA test results are available that could significantly strengthen or weaken the theory. (May)
Baton Rouge Advocate
“A compelling work of true crime that makes a strong case for Best being responsible for the series of murders and horrifying threats that paralyzed San Francisco with fear in the late 1960s and early 1970s.”
Jeff Guinn
“I promise that you’ve never read anything like The Most Dangerous Animal of All. Mesmerizing from the first page, the story includes a shattering surprise that will sear itself in your memory. Be prepared to read non-stop; this really is a book you won’t be able to put down.”
Kirkus Reviews
2014-05-22
An adopted Louisiana engineer’s search for his biological roots results in a shocking, highly controversial connection to the Zodiac Killer.With its details legally vetted and enshrouded in pre-publication secrecy, Stewart’s head-turning memoir, skillfully co-written by veteran true-crime journalist Mustafa, explores how the search for personal truth can sometimes unearth unexpected results. Though his adoptive parents loved him unconditionally, the author still felt “discarded,” plagued by crippling feelings of insecurity and abandonment. At 39, Stewart writes of being contacted by his birth mother, Judy Gilford, a runaway who became pregnant by an older, seductive man. The author, ecstatic at their reunion, began journaling his experience, which soon included an intensive, obsessive search for his father, who he believes to be Earl Van Best Jr., a statutory rapist Stewart would soon discover had abandoned him in a Baton Rouge apartment building stairwell—and who he believes went on to become a notorious murderer. The narrative begins to build suspenseful momentum only after early sections that re-create Best’s fractured childhood and early adulthood (heavily influenced, claims Stewart, by notorious Satanist Anton LaVey). Then the author chronicles the ensuing killing spree, encrypted communications and police-taunting media spectacle that immortalized him as the Zodiac Killer. The author painstakingly pieces together over a decade’s worth of personal research and verbatim interviews with family, friends and law enforcement, then goes further to scrutinize and compare handwriting samples, police sketches and photographs, all bearing uncanny resemblances to recorded documentation from the Zodiac files. Stewart soberingly remarks that while the burden of DNA proof remains elusive, the closure he has received with his personal investigation has satisfactorily provided the “truth about my life.”High-minded speculation and documented assumptions are the building blocks of Stewart’s convincing memoir; whether perceived as the byproduct of shrewd spadework or a fertile imagination, the author’s family history offers chilling and credible correlations.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781483004389
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/13/2014
  • Format: CD
  • Sales rank: 303,734
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 5.80 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Gary L. Stewart serves as vice president of Delta Tech Service of
Louisiana and earned his Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from Louisiana State University. He lives in Baton Rouge with his wife Kristy and son Zach.

Susan D. Mustafa is an award-winning freelance journalist, author, and editor whose articles are published monthly in a variety of magazines and newspapers in Louisiana and beyond.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 35 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(26)

4 Star

(7)

3 Star

(1)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 35 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2014

    Wow! I couldn't put this book down! It is masterfully written,

    Wow! I couldn't put this book down! It is masterfully written, weaving plots and sub-plots into a seamless narrative - even moving in places. The evidence is overwhelming and documented very well. I'm convinced!

    15 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2014

    I Also Recommend:

    This is a truly amazing story, well told by Gary L. Stewart and

    This is a truly amazing story, well told by Gary L. Stewart and Susan Mustafa. Imagine the nightmare of finding out your biological father is one of the most horrific serial killers in history. The emotional journey that Stewart goes through is staggering and the words used to describe it are perfectly chosen. Stewart is very brave for sharing his story.

    12 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2014

    This book is fascinating and believable!  I couldn't put it down

    This book is fascinating and believable!  I couldn't put it down and was sorry when I did finish it...I do believe that SFPD needs to do DNA testing.  The only thing that I would have loved to see was picture??  I bought the Nook book...no pictures!! What a bummer!

    11 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2014

    Absorbing.

    Couldn't put this book down. Gary Stewart makes a convincing case for his biological father being the Zodiac killer. Book is interesting even without the Zodiac angle.

    10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 16, 2014

    Gary Stewart's narrative is faciniating, convincing and 100% bel

    Gary Stewart's narrative is faciniating, convincing and 100% believable. His biological father IS the Zodiac Killer.


    9 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2014

    I am not normally in the habit of buying books, especially by un

    I am not normally in the habit of buying books, especially by unknown authors on the day of their release, but everything I learned about this book compelled me to know more. With a story this intriguing it doesn't matter that Gary Stewart is just an Electrical Engineer from Louisiana. His evidence is stunning. His story is thoughtful, heartfelt, and macabre. He lays out facts, motives, theories, and some of the only new evidence in the Zodiac case in years, and ties them together with a very believable narrative. I finished the book in two days, then watched Zodiac by Fincher, then did research on the web and it's incredibly likely that this man found the killer who has eluded police for nearly half a century.
    Highly entertaining, highly read-able, and one of the most engrossing books I've ever read!!!
    Scott

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2014

    Captivating

    From the first pages i could not put it down ,

    8 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2014

    Very interesting book

    This book is not what most people would expect. I enjoyed reading it so much. I had read a few comments about this book one being "why would someone be proud of being a child of a killer". I wanted to say read it before you make a comment like that. It was nothing about pride but it was about forgiveness. I can only imagine the struggles that the author went through to even complete this book. I highly recommend it.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2014

    Loved the book!

    I have just finished reading The Most Dangerous Animal of All: Searching for My Father and Finding the Zodiac Killer. I could not put it down. I watched the movie the Zodiac Killer several years ago. It was absolutely terrifying. I was interested in this book because I was hoping this killer had been identified. I believe he has. I am so sorry Mr. Stewart had this man as a biological father, but thankful he shared his story. What a testimony - God surely takes care of his children! And, a touching tribute to his adoptive parents, especially his father. I'm so glad I took the time to read it!

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2014

    great

    great

    3 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2014

    maine reader

    good BUT why did the book end without the DNA results--leaves one hanging

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2014

    Must Read for All Mystery Lovers

    Very intriguing ! It's like watching all of the pieces of this mystery fall into place to solve this seemingly unsolvable puzzle!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2014

    Incredable!!!

    An amazing book that will grip you in its suspense. You must read this.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 1, 2014

    If you have interest in the Zodiac this is a must read

    This was a well written book. I grow up in the Napa Valley and was going to elementary school at the time. I remember the police cars following the school buses.
    This book moves quickly documenting what he found. He brings up names of people in the community so you can track events.

    Once I started it I had to finish it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2014

    I Also Recommend:

    All I can say is: Wow! This book wraps you in and won¿t let go.

    All I can say is: Wow! This book wraps you in and won’t let go. It is an amazing story. I really enjoyed this book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2014

    Excellent read

    This book is so well written, and the son so brave and determined in finding the facts about his history...and the horrifying conclusion, that it is hard to put down. The author also had some very loving, altruistic people in his life which gave his personal story a strong foundation.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2014

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 16, 2014

    A very interesting and well documented book!  I'm convinced and

    A very interesting and well documented book!  I'm convinced and look forward to the DNA test results. The victims' families deserve to know and have closure.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 17, 2014

    Convinced

    This book leaves me with no doubt that the case for the zodiac killer needs to be reopened.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2014

    This is an amazing read. I could not put the book down! It's w

    This is an amazing read. I could not put the book down! It's written so well and keep you hanging onto every word. Your heart just goes out to Gary and what he's been through.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 35 Customer Reviews

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