Synopses & Reviews
No crime is as horrific, as mesmerizingly perplexing, as a child's murder at the hands of a parent. In most cases, the perpetrator is the father. A veteran journalist explores five examples of "family annihilators" in this troubling snapshot of American crime twisted by the dark trajectory of machismo in economically stressful times. Her research includes some fifty in-depth interviews of victims' friends and family, an examination of police files, and detailed profiles of the researchers who track these "killer dads."
She also presents experts' theories on the causes that drive men to commit these heinous acts--ranging from economic pressures, the stress of perceived failure, and distorted egos, to the disturbing statistics on abuse of adopted children by step-fathers and the connection between murder and pregnancy.
Finally, she discusses factors in contemporary society that may foster such crimes, and measures we can and should be taking to prevent them.
Well-researched and often-shocking, Killer Dads provides disturbing insights into the dark forces that can turn family dynamics into the worst imaginable nightmare.
"Spoiler alert: journalist Papenfuss's depressing account of horrific violence doesn't offer any insights. 'I set out to gather all the facts I could on the killings, assuming the information would unlock the key to motivations and mechanisms toward murder. They didn't.' Given that, readers who suffer through detailed accounts of savage acts of familicide, such as attorney William Parente's 2009 killing of his wife and daughters, are likely to feel ill-used. The inclusion of the transcripts of emergency phone calls and heart-breaking photos of families in happier times appeals only to emotions, rather than to an analysis of how or why fathers end the lives they helped bring into the world. Papenfuss (coauthor, Climb Against the Odds) will open some eyes with a chapter on infanticide in the animal kingdom particularly among primates but given that her examples there include murderous mothers, her choice to focus just on men, even if they are statistically more likely to kill their children, is unclear. Are men and women so different that Susan Smith, who drowned her two children to sustain an affair, merits no mention at all? As is, Papenfuss's project feels arbitrary and unnecessary. Photos. Agent: Claire Gerus, Claire Gerus Literary Agency. (June)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Mary Papenfuss has been a journalist for over thirty years. She is the author of Climb against the Odds and has worked as a reporter and editor for many publications and news services, including the New York Daily News, the New York Post, the Associated Press in San Francisco, People magazine’s London bureau, and Salon. Currently, she is an editor at KCET Link TV (www.kcetlink.org).