Synopses & Reviews
A New York Times
A San Francisco Chronicle
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.
Written with award-winning author and journalist Susan Mustafa, The Most Dangerous Animal of All tells the story of Stewart's decade-long hunt. While combing through government records and news reports and tracking down relatives and friends, Stewart turns up a host of clues — including forensic evidence — that conclusively identify his father as the Zodiac Killer, one of the most notorious and elusive serial murderers in history.
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.
"When an author purports to have uncovered the truth about a notorious unsolved series of murders, let alone that the killer was his own father, it's vital to establish credibility from the outset; unfortunately, Stewart's concession that the narrative 'of father's early life' is fictionalized gets things started badly. The unreliability of those sections is a significant drawback that engenders skepticism long before Stewart presents any evidence to support his claim that his biological father, who abandoned him as an infant, was responsible for the murders that terrorized San Francisco in the 1960s. And that evidence is far less impressive than Stewart believes a resemblance between a wanted poster's image and a picture of his father, a tortured interpretation of a coded message, some ambiguous partial fingerprint, and handwriting evidence. The motive for the crimes ostensibly the enactment of revenge fantasies on young women resembling Stewart's mother is also unconvincing, as the author fails to even address the killing of a cabbie that could not have been so motivated. The kicker is the decision to publish before DNA test results are available that could significantly strengthen or weaken the theory. (May)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“I promise that you've never read anything like The Most Dangerous Animal of All. Mesmerizing from the first page, the story includes a shattering surprise that will sear itself in your memory. Be prepared to read non-stop; this really is a book you won't be able to put down.” Jeff Guinn, author of Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson
“Convincing....The author painstakingly pieces together over a decades worth of personal research and verbatim interviews with family, friends and law enforcement, then goes further to scrutinize and compare handwriting samples, police sketches and photographs, all bearing uncanny resemblances to recorded documentation from the Zodiac files.” Kirkus
“A compelling work of true crime that makes a strong case for Best being responsible for the series of murders and horrifying threats that paralyzed San Francisco with fear in the late 1960s and early 1970s.” Baton Rouge Advocate
An explosive and historic book of true crime and an emotionally powerful and revelatory memoir of a man whose ten-year search for his biological father leads to a chilling discovery: His father is one of the most notorious-and still at large-serial killers in America.
Soon after his birth mother contacted him for the first time at the age of thirty-nine, adoptee Gary L. Stewart decided to search for his biological father. It was a quest that would lead him to a horrifying truth and force him to reconsider everything he thought he knew about himself and his world.
Written with award-winning author and journalist Susan D. Mustafa, The Most Dangerous Animal of All tells the story of Stewart's decade-long search for his father following a complex trail of startling twists and connections. Combing through government records and news reports and through conversations with his father's relatives and friends, Stewart turns up a host of clues, including forensic evidence, identifying his father as one of the most infamous and still-wanted serial killers in American history.
About the Author
Gary L. Stewart earned his bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from Louisiana State University and is vice president of Delta Tech Service of Louisiana. Ten years ago, Gary began writing a journal, chronicling every detail of his search for his father and his own identity. That journal served as the basis for The Most Dangerous Animal of All
. Gary resides in Louisiana with his wife, Kristy, and son, Zach.
Susan Mustafa is an award-winning author and journalist. She is the coauthor of Dismembered, written with Sue Israel, which chronicles the story of serial killer Sean Vincent Gillis; and Blood Bath, about the life and crimes of serial killer Derrick Todd Lee, written with Special Prosecutor Tony Clayton and Sue Israel. Susan lives in Louisiana with her husband, Scott.