In her exhaustively researched account of the Scott Peterson trial and similar cases, journalist Strong (A Bright Red Scream) makes a convincing case that there is a growing number of men-whom she calls eraser killers-who murder their wives or girlfriends with premeditation and dispose of the body in an attempt to make both the crime and the victim "disappear." They kill, says Strong, because the woman "no longer serves any 'purpose' " in the man's "emotionally desolate world," or because he sees her as an obstacle to a life he fantasizes for himself. Strong traces the phenomenon back to the 1906 case of Chester Gillette, convicted for murdering his pregnant mistress and the model for Dreiser's An American Tragedy. Between the Gillette and Peterson cases is a series of gruesome murders that Strong contends were committed by husbands who then staged kidnappings or robberies to disguise the murder or simply stashed the bodies so well that they are never found. Her accounts of various eraser killings around the country are compelling, but none more so than her meticulously detailed examination of Laci Peterson's murder. With its blend of novelistic journalism and concise psychiatric research, Strong's exposé will appeal to more than just true crime fans. (Mar.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
When a woman is found murdered, the husband or boyfriend is the automatic suspect, but when she goes missing, the police rarely consider it a crime until a certain amount of time passes. This fact concerns author Strong (A Bright Red Scream), who develops a profile of the "eraser" killer: men who kill in order to "erase" their wives and families in order to start anew (that women themselves may be eraser killers is barely acknowledged). Strong focuses on the Scott Peterson case, but she also covers 50 other cases, from murderer Chester Gillette in 1906 to killers of the present, ecompassing both the famous and the obscure. Since vital evidence can disappear from a crime scene while the matter is still considered a missing-persons case, Strong hopes that this new "eraser" profile will do for missing wives and children what "violent sexual predator" and Amber Alerts did for child abductions. Of course, some women do run away, die by accident or suicide, or are murdered by strangers. "Innocent until proven guilty" and the civil rights of suspects are of concern to Bailey (The Defense Never Rests), the controversial veteran criminal defense attorney. His book, written with journalist and fantasy novelist Rabe (Dragonlance), focuses on particular men, guilty and innocent, who found themselves in the public eye after the women in their lives vanished or were murdered. Bailey has sympathy for innocent men caught in the legal spotlight, but none for the guilty. His book summarizes 20 different notable cases of murdered women, from the crime through the trial. Focusing on such famous defendants as Sam Sheppard, O.J. Simpson, Scott Peterson, and Robert Blake, some of whom hedefended, Bailey offers his take on these crimes. His stories of both the innocent and the guilty remind readers that being a suspect doesn't make you a killer. Both books belong in public libraries; Strong's book is a good choice for academic libraries as well.