Investigative journalist Svoray, a former Israeli detective, described his infiltration of Germany's neo-Nazi movement in In Hitler's Shadow (LJ 10/15/94). The present work launches a one-man investigation into the netherworld of the "snuff" filma pornographic video in which someone is actually killed. Hopscotching around the world, Svoray finds scant evidence, barely described and none of it retained. Given that almost all the names have been changed (Svoray's claim that he showed a snuff video to actor Robert De Niro is a startling exception) and that other omissions are admitted, credibility becomes an issue here. There is much padding with cloak-and-dagger and family-life episodes. Because the author concludes that there was "no source" for what he was seeking, his material might have worked better as a feature article. Not a necessary purchase for most libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 55/15/97.]Gregor A. Preston, formerly with Univ. of California Lib., Davis
A former investigator of neo-Nazis turns his detective skills and underworld contacts to the almost equally sordid and furtive world of violent pornography in this incredible globe-trotting odyssey.
Snuff filmswhose filming involves people actually being sexually tortured, raped, and murderedhave long been the stuff of legend and apocrypha. To this day, the FBI claims that there is no such thing. But Svoray (In Hitler's Shadow, 1994) seems to have found otherwise. Beginning with a contact in Israel, he travels, using several different cover stories and aliases, to Bangkok, New York, Los Angeles, London, Germany, and Paris, before ending up in Serbia, following an ever-winding, often elusive trail. His goal, ostensibly, is to procure a copy of a snuff film, proof final and positive. But he is really more interested in seeing where his leads go, what new and dangerous pornographers, con men, and mobsters they turn up. Along the way he views a number of snuff films and even arranges a viewing in Paris of such a film for the actor Robert De Niro (deep in method acting research). Then there is the Connecticut mansion where wealthy pillars of the community pay $1,500 each for the privilege of watching a snuff film. In Bosnia, Svoray finds himself negotiating for a snuff film (it turns out to contain a horrific record of Bosnian Serb atrocities, including rapes and murders) while NATO planes fly bombing runs overhead. Back in Belgrade, Svoray is arrested and the tape, his only proof, confiscated. If this is all true, it's an amazing story. There are so many incidents, so much danger, one has to wonder how Svoray managed to survive. Certainly, given this material, his penchant for melodrama and dramatic flourishes is completely superfluous.
What would be gawky, ill-plotted, and rambling as fiction, as fact becomes an unbelievably compelling journey to the depths of human depravity.