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Editor reviews

Judge Sam L. Amirante and Danny Broderick’s John Wayne Gacy: Defending a Monster is an unforgettable work, a rare chilling glance behind the scenes of a universally well-known story, that of notorious serial killer John Wayne Gacy, Jr.

Amirante and Broderick, Gacy’s public defender, have constructed a gripping work that not only reveals for the first time new facts about one of America’s most infamous killers, but grapples with great questions of humanity, including the question of what it means to deserve defense - even if your crimes are as great as Gacy’s. Actor Robin Bloodworth’s performance is emotionally powerful and well-paced, and he excels especially at emphasizing those new elements of Gacy’s story which make this audiobook a must-listen.

Summary

For the first time Gacy’s lawyer and confidant tells his chilling tale of how he defended an American serial killer.

“Sam, could you do me a favor?”

Thus begins a story that has now become part of America's true-crime hall of fame. It is a gory, grotesque tale befitting a Stephen King novel. It is also a David and Goliath saga - the story of a young lawyer fresh from the public defender's office whose first client in private practice turns out to be the worst serial killer in our nation's history. This is a gripping true crime narrative that reenacts the gruesome killings and the famous trial that shocked a nation.

©2012 Sam L. Amirante and Danny Broderick (P)2012 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about John Wayne Gacy: Defending a Monster

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Bizarre

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

Yes. No. Yes. It's absurd.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

That the author is more insane than John Wayne Gacy. So self congratulatory it's unreal, similar anecdotes over and over, never stopping to remind you of their (attorneys') popularity and fame, their preparedness for the case, how they were always getting one over on other people. It reads like Alan Partidge had written it. I genuinely began to feel sorry for John Wayne Gacy.

Very little about the victims themselves and who they were. It's mostly about John Wayne Gacy, then pretty much the attorneys.

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

A bit drawn out.

Do you think John Wayne Gacy: Defending a Monster needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

The author's should never be allowed to write again.

Any additional comments?

I really don't recommend it as a piece of work but it's so odd that it's worth listening to.

12 people found this helpful

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Horrible writing

If this book wasn’t for you, who do you think might enjoy it more?

I thought this book was for me. I wanted to get some insight into what would cause a man to kill 33 teenagers. Instead I had to listen to the authors long winded essay for an English 101 course (make that English 98 course).

What was most disappointing about Sam L. Amirante and Danny Broderick ’s story?

They moved away from the story. There were more accounts about bar room brawls, the flowing black gown of the judge and his glistening glasses. I had to stop listening because I'm sure a sex scene by the author would emerge.

What character would you cut from John Wayne Gacy: Defending a Monster?

The author who interjects himself into horrible story and poorly tries to make himself the author of the century, rather than writing about one of Americas worst serial killer. I could care less that you were the one that drank only 1 beer on a night out, and that the reporter was asleep during the brawl. What in the heck does that have to do with John Wayne Gacy!

13 people found this helpful

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First part - great. Second part - dull

Definitely a book of two halves. The first describing Gacy's lifestyle, crimes and capture is fascinating though clearly somewhat embellished in places (ie, he tells us what some of the victims were thinking!). The second half of the book concerns Gacy's trial and rather than focus on the detail of the case, there is far too much spiel about the various lawyers' personalities and the legal technicalities of the trial. It really falls down when the author repeatedly harps on about how the American Justice System is the best in the world, and even claims at one point it was only because it was so good Gacy was convicted. This, despite earlier detailing how Gacy at one point confessed his crimes to almost anyone who happened to be passing his cell!

7 people found this helpful

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Author's tone grated throughout

I was hoping for a lot more from this book. The author's tone grated on me throughout, particularly his gleeful recounting of horrendous behaviour towards one witnesses and fairly callous comments about others. Didn't really feel I got much insight.

The narrator is fine, but I didn't understand why his "narrating accent" and that of the same character speaking to others were different.

2 people found this helpful

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Author is irritatingly glib and self obsessed

Lost all respect for author when he takes pride in how he harassed and humiliated an innocent trans woman who was a friend of one of the killer' victims. Bizarrely narcissistic throughout. Disappointing.

1 person found this helpful

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Only made it through the first 40 minutes

As others have already reviewed, it's a bit of a bizarre book with detailed 'insights' into what the victims were thinking in the moments up to their deaths. After listening to the excellent Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi, I was hoping for a similar factual and sober account, but was disappointed with this semi-fictional dramatised nonsense.

1 person found this helpful

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Amazing insight

I actually found myself feeling sorry for a mass Muderer, the crimes were henious, but I ask myself, in 2021 would he have recieved the death penalty, and i find myself saying no, we have a greater understanding of all types on mental illnesses, though In my opinion it does not excuse the crime, but perhaps explains it.

1 person found this helpful

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Interesting insight

Like most I have heard the name John Wayne Gacy but I never knew the story behind the name.
This was a very interesting insight to the mind of Gacy, the downfall and the trial.

1 person found this helpful

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to much lawyer talk

lawyer talking as if he was innocent omg how cringe is that most lawyers think even the guilty by 1000 percent are innocent because they are a lawyer cringe

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

great

Best narration I have heard so far.very good.
would recommend whole heartedly. top notch.

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  • Dan
  • 03-12-20

Some blatant transphobia in this one.

I was willing to put up with the author’s waxing poetic about the flawlessness of the American justice system for the first 9.5 hours until he recounted the story of his questioning of the witness Donita Gannon, in which he outed her as a trans woman in an attempt to discredit her testimony for the defense and insinuate to the jury that “her entire life was one big lie.” He explicitly states this intention in the book and stands by it. All in the name of defending a literal serial killer. I think maybe he should take society’s disdain for criminal defense lawyers a little bit more seriously.

All of that being said, the story was interesting enough. Good thing there’s a ton of other places you can go to hear it. I recommend picking a different book.

The narration was fine.

24 people found this helpful

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  • A.R.
  • 03-03-13

Ultimately an excellent listen

This audiobook ultimately rated 4 stars, although I did have some issues with it. However for the most part I was enthralled by the narrative of Gacy's defense lawyer's quest to give his client a fair trial. Most of it was extremely well written, and both interesting and engaging, even for someone familiar with this case. I found myself more interested in the defense lawyer's experiences than I would have expected. It is a bit of a shame that only a couple of murders were dealt with in any detail, although one senses that the authors wanted to refrain from repeating what had been written many times before. The book could have done with some editing most notably the last 2 hours which almost exclusively dealt with the closing arguments of both defense and prosecution. This entire section could have been cut, and made me less enthusiastic about a full star review. Another point I found irritating was the constant repetition of the author's argument that Gacy deserved a fair trial. I thought that the authors made a rather convincing and elegant argument in the introduction, based on the American Constitution's insurance of a fair trial for everyone, no matter how repugnant (as Gacy was). But the authors return again and again to re-word this argument and it beleaguered the point. I couldn't help thinking: Sir, thou doth protest too much! However the absolute BEST thing about this audiobook was the standout performance given by Robin Bloodworth. His portrayal of Gacy's confession to his lawyers was outstanding and riveting. He must surely have studied Gacy's affectations as he nailed it perfectly. On the whole this was an excellent book, and well worth the listen. Recommended!

74 people found this helpful

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  • Rhonda
  • 13-01-21

Drawn out with blatant transphobia by the author

If the book was more concise it would have been easier to get into. There are large sections of the book that really drag and youre barraged with boring details that hold no importance to the case. The biggest issue you can't ignore is the authors transphobia and misogyny that he makes no attempt to hide. You can't say a witness is not credible because they are Transgender and are lying about who they really are.

14 people found this helpful

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  • Lauren C.
  • 05-01-21

Appallingly transphobic and misogynistic

I love true crime, and this book had a good hook. Who wouldn't want to hear from the lawyer of John Wayne Gacy? And then I started in, and bruh, it got problematic quick. There is an entire section where the author refers to a transwoman as "a he/she/it", and makes horrific and debasing comments about her. He at least once referred to a woman as a "blonde bimbo", and honestly has more compassion for and good to say about Gacy than many of the innocent bystanders and victims. Probably don't give money to this human dumpster fire.

14 people found this helpful

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  • Veruka
  • 02-05-14

Defense of a monster

What did you love best about John Wayne Gacy: Defending a Monster?
I really enjoyed the smooth tone of Robin Bloodworth, his voice was easy on the ears.

What was one of the most memorable moments of John Wayne Gacy: Defending a Monster?
The fact that we heard a pretty decent description of what it is like to defend someone so sick. I have always wondered how someone could take on a case like this and now I know. Did John Wayne Gacy deserve the best defense I don't know but in America this is what we pride ourselves on I guess.

Which scene was your favorite?
I cannot answer that question just relief there was no question on whether this guy was indeed guilty, that made it easier knowing he wouldn't walk away from the carnage he left behind.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
A lot of sadness for the parents that lost their sons to this sadistic four letter word.

Any additional comments?
I would feel compelled to justify my defense of a criminal such as Gacy if I had been his defense attorney. Glad he wrote a book, he seemed to be a reasonable enough guy someone had to do the job. I also have to say I am relieved this book did not cover to many gory details making the book stomach-able, when I purchased the book I was prepared to shut it off if it got to personal on the horrible details it was moderate on that level.

22 people found this helpful

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  • Douglas
  • 10-03-14

After Having Read Many Books On Serial Killers...

I came to the one I had been avoiding. Given the nature of his crimes, I find Gacy to be the most disgusting of the disgusting, and even thinking about what he did is not easy. This book is not easy. But it is professional, reportorial, direct. There are, mercifully, no attempts at sensationalism or inflating the importance of the unspeakable evil that was Gacy.

51 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • NeverJetHot
  • 17-06-13

It's never what you think

I thought this would go into more detail about the legal process, but it kind of skimmed over the trial. The book mainly talked about JWG's quirks and personality problems, which was interesting enough. It didn't get too much into the gory details, which I appreciated.

One thing I didn't like, the attorney writing this often paused to wrap himself in the American Flag and rhapsodize about the right to a fair trial- A sentiment I wholeheartedly agree with, but he didn't need to beat it into the ground.

45 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 20-04-21

Transphobia warning

The book leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to actual information about Gacy.
Instead you are fed with self righteous sermons about the American justice system and how he was doing the world a favor.
He goes on and on about Gacy being crazy but leaves it at that.
It would have been alright if not for the transphobic chapter where he tore into an innocent trans woman and outed her. It was disgusting. I couldn’t finish the book in good conscience.

If you want more information on Gacy, there are a lot of resources out there that are helpful in understanding how he came to be.
This book is not one of them.

7 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Greg Hansen
  • 17-05-16

Kind of drawn out

I gave this book an overall rate of 4 stars because the information in it was so good. However, when the authors start the trial part of the book, especially from the closing arguments & on, it felt extremely drawn out. It was almost like they needed the book to be a specific length & started stretching the end to meet that length. Overall still a very good book.

6 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • aaron saari
  • 12-04-21

Transphobic, misogynistic claptrap

First, the narrator is awful. He sighs into words, like a person exasperated by the moment.

Second, the author thinks a great deal of himself. He shows no compunction to examine the biases in our just-us system, but waves the flag while defending a monster.

Finally, as covered in other reviews, this *judge* is so filled with hatred toward women and transpersons, it’s hard to find anything redeeming about his account. And I love true crime.

Don’t do it.

5 people found this helpful