THE MOST DANGEROUS ANIMAL OF ALL: Searching for My Father and Finding the Zodiac Killer by Gary L. Stewart With Susan D. Mustafa with Book Trailer and Documentary

zodiacPUBLISHING INFO:  Harper, 5/2014
GENRE: Nonfiction/Memoir/True Crime
PURCHASE: link
MY GRADE: A

FROM PUBLISHER: 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. His quest would lead him to a horrifying truth and force him to reconsider everything he thought he knew about himself and his world.

For decades, the Zodiac Killer has captivated America’s imagination. His ability to evade capture while taunting authorities made him infamous. The vicious specificity of his crimes terrified Californians before the Manson murders and after, and shocked a culture enamored with the ideals of the dawning Age of Aquarius. To this day, his ciphers have baffled detectives and amateur sleuths, and his identity remains one of the twentieth century’s great unsolved mysteries.

The Most Dangerous Animal of All reveals the name of the Zodiac for the very first time. Mustafa and Stewart construct a chilling psychological profile of Stewart’s father: as a boy with disturbing fixations, a frustrated intellectual with pretensions to high culture, and an inappropriate suitor and then jilted lover unable to process his rage. At last, all the questions that have surrounded the case for almost fifty years are answered in this riveting narrative. The result is a singular work of true crime at its finest—a compelling, unbelievable true story told with the pacing of a page-turning novel—as well as a sensational and powerful memoir.

MY THOUGHTS: This was a fascinating memoir/true crime book about an infamous unapprehended serial killer who began killing in 1969.  Like the author said, he was searching for information about his birth father, Earl Van Best, Jr., after his birth mother Judy, who’s a liar that I don’t like, contacted him for the first time in 2002. He researched his father, who goes by Van, as best he could, for twelve years. He found old police reports, talked to an old close friend of his, found family members, and so on. I don’t know what more he could have done in order to find more information on a man who’s no longer alive. I think he researched Zodiac well.

Gary presents us with handwriting samples of his father’s that match up pretty well with known samples of the Zodiac’s that he sent to the newspaper in San Francisco during the time of the killings. We see how this unsolved cipher that Zodiac sent spells out Gary’s father’s name. Zodiac’s fingerprints are compared to Gary’s fathers and they both have an identical scar on the same finger.

The most disappointing part of this involves current detective John Hennessey and has to do with Zodiac and Gary’s DNA and the mystery as to why Hennessey severed ties with Gary. Another mysterious detective is Harold Butler, who’s clearly hiding information from both Hennessey and Gary. There’s clearly some sort of cover-up going on and I have no doubt that one day it’ll be exposed. Gary, don’t give up on having that DNA tested.

I don’t get into how screwed up Van is but I will say he has all the makings of a serial killer, complete with cold, unaffectionate, unloving, cheating mother. Even if he isn’t the real killer, I enjoyed reading about him.

This hardcover book has the coolest cover. The book itself has Van’s mugshot printed on the front and back cover. The dust jacket is translucent red on the front and back and has all the black writing on it. The spine and flaps are almost clear. Never seen one like that before.

Below is a composite drawing of the Zodiac Killer and the other is Gary’s father, Earl Van Best, Jr., in 1962, seven years before the Zodiac killings. The documentary is an old one from A&E that I’ve seen many times.

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Zodiac collage

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2 Comments

  1. June 10, 2014 at 5:03 PM

    Great review!

  2. ✿ Terri said,

    June 10, 2014 at 5:04 PM

    Thank you, Jonetta!


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