Book Review: The Serial Killer Whisperer by Pete Earley

March 14, 2018 Book Reviews 6

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: The Serial Killer Whisperer by Pete EarleyThe Serial Killer Whisperer: How One Man's Tragedy Helped Unlock the Deadliest Secrets of the World's Most Terrifying Killers by Pete Earley
Published by Touchstone on January 10th 2012
Pages: 317
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From New York Times bestselling author Pete Earley—the strange but true story of a man who suffers a traumatic brain injury and as a result is given the ability to converse with the world’s most terrifying criminals.

After suffering a horrific head injury, fifteen-year-old Tony Ciaglia discovered he could no longer control his emotions or social responses and found himself incapable of feeling disgust at the antisocial behavior of others. Eventually therapy and medication helped Tony largely overcome his emotional instability, and when his therapist suggested he develop a hobby, Tony acted on a whim and wrote to an imprisoned serial killer. To his astonishment, the killer wrote back.

Tony’s hobby eventually turned into a full-blown obsession, and soon he was corresponding with dozens of serial killers who revealed heinous details about their horrendous crimes—even those they’d never been convicted of. The killers opened up to Tony; they trusted him, considered him a friend. Unable to feel disgust at the revolting stories, Tony began to fear that the potential for killing without guilt lurked within him, and he became suicidal. Ultimately, Tony found redemption and purpose by helping law enforcement officials solve crimes his connection uncovered, and before long, investigators from around the country were calling on him for assistance with cold cases.

The Serial Killer Whisperer is not only the story of how Tony learned to use his gift in the interest of justice, but it is also an inspiring—albeit sometimes terrifying—tale of healing and closure for a man who has struggled to lead a normal life.

Reading Challenges: Library Love


The Serial Killer Whisperer: How One Man’s Tragedy Helped Unlock the Deadliest Secrets of the World’s Most Terrifying Killers

This was a random grab from my library. I’m fascinated with Behavioral Science and Psychology as a whole, so this seemed like something I would enjoy… ? Enjoy may not be the correct word, as this has some seriously gruesome moments, but it’s like a train wreck, you just can’t pass without rubber necking.

What I loved about this is that it is straight forward about what is going to be inside the covers of this book. There are stories that are gruesome, tragic, horrifying, and yet we all have moments where we think something that we know is against the societal norms. Maybe not to the point of feeling like we’re serial killers, but those small things that don’t seem that bad and would let off steam.

The difference is that these guys do not know when to stop. They do not have a lot, if any emotion or empathy for their victims. Many of them did the crime for the thrill of the hunt. Many of these hunts are described in detail. Which is why there is a disclaimer at the beginning of the book for those that may be squeamish, or think this is too much.

The main portion of the story, however, is about Tony. Tony suffered a head injury when he was a child and his personality changed. He went through moments where he truly wondered if he also had the same problems as serial killers. His thinking was that if he could understand them, maybe he could change the problems he was having.

Instead Tony at many points in his life, gets in over his head. He starts to understand and even identify with the serial killers, more than his own family, and the few friends he has.

This is a look at real stories, from real serial killers. This is also a look at how Tony took a major life changing accident and wound up turning it around to try to help people find closure. It takes a LOT for Tony to get there, and honestly, there are truly some portions of this that I had to skim through. Never did I feel completely comfortable, especially knowing that these were real people with real victims. It’s scary. To say the least. But, it’s also intriguing to try to understand the why behind the who.

This is also a book that I cannot, in all honesty, rate with my normal rating system. It’s not fiction novel that where I can or cannot enjoy the main character. It’s a real life event that changed a boy’s life, and his and his family’s acceptance to that accident, and their refusal to give up. Where many might think it odd for a young man to write to serial killers, I think it is fascinating! The questions he asks them, without wanting anything from them but the truth and friendship, is simply remarkable. He definitely gets the truth out of most of them, which is the gruesome part, but getting them to open up and talk about these details is, in my opinion, amazing.

Definitely a must read for those that enjoy psychology, but beware the graphic, hideous details!



Pete Earley is a storyteller who has penned 13 books including the New York Times bestseller The Hot House and the 2007 Pulitzer Prize finalist Crazy: A Father’s Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness.

After a 14-year career in journalism, including six years at The Washington Post, Pete became a full-time author with a commitment to expose the stories that entertain and surprise.

His honest reporting and compelling writing helped him garner success as one of few authors with ”the power to introduce new ideas and give them currency,” according to Washingtonian magazine.

When Pete’s life was turned upside down by the events recounted in his book Crazy, he joined the National Alliance of Mental Illness to advocate for strong mental health reform on the public stage.






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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

6 Responses to “Book Review: The Serial Killer Whisperer by Pete Earley”

  1. Ichabod Temperance

    Yikes. Scary stuff.
    Have you seen the show ‘Mindhunter’? It is about the development of FBI serial killer profiling. It is really good!
    Happy Reading!
    ~Icky. 🙂

    • Christina

      We just started watching it. I think we’re on Episode 3! Very interesting so far. Thank you for the great recommendation. Had my hubby not found this, I would have no idea! Gotta love being able to share great books and good shows!

  2. Barb (boxermommyreads)

    This one sounds interesting AND terrifying. Since my husband is a counselor in a prison, I think I might skip this one as I can see it creating some anxiety. Glad you enjoyed it though.

    • Christina

      It was certainly both. From a psychologist’s pov it is extraordinary, but from a human pov I just had to move along and get back to Tony’s portion of the story. Although, most of the stories are not that far in depth, the ones that are really did turn my stomach. Good idea to just skip this one. But imagine! This was a library find! Gotta love it.

  3. chucklesthescot

    I used to read a lot of non fiction about serial killers but I don’t really have the time these days. I do watch documentaries on TV about them.

    • Christina

      I should have started when I was getting my degree on Behavioral Science. It was a good book. I’m glad I picked it up and even looked for more in that section of the library but couldn’t find anything. I’ll have to look up the documentaries. I’m sure there is a ton out there!

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