Serial killers are some of the favorite subjects of popular culture. They are complex characters with an apparently terrible past that made them who they are. They are unique in the sense they are very selective of their victims and do not kill indiscriminately. They can be likened to a predator who closely follows their prey before they strike. Here are five of these novels.
American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
The story centers on Patrick Bateman, a Manhattan businessman by day, and a serial killer by night. Ellis did a lot of research in creating the character reading up on murders that occurred in New York. The novel maintains a high level of ambiguity through mistaken identity and contradictions that introduce the possibility that Bateman is an unreliable narrator as he occasionally breaks the fourth wall to critique 1980’s pop music artists. The novel was later made into a movie in 2000 starring Christian Bale as Bateman.
Hannibal by Thomas Harris
The novel looks deeper into the man we have seen in Silence of the Lambs played by Anthony Hopkins. This takes place seven years after the events in Silence of the Lambs. Hannibal escapes and lives in exile in Italy and FBI Agent Clarice Starling is tasked to bring him in. Little did she know she is used as a pawn by one of Hannibal’s former victims, a sadistic pedophile, who wants to exact vengeance against him for disfiguring him. The novel also provides a glimpse on what made Hannibal the person he is through a flashback.
The Dead Zone by Stephen King
If it is written by Stephen King, you can be sure, it is anything but boring. The killer in question is Johnny Smith who has a gift of clairvoyance following an accident which makes a part of his brain a “dead zone.” He uses his gift to help people but at one point, he saw the future of a man named Greg Stillson who is emotionally troubled and has a history of violence. This prompted Johnny to take matters into his own hands and kill Stillson.
Kiss the Girls by James Patterson
The titles of Patterson’s works are based on verses or titles from Nursery Rhymes. In this case, the title comes from a verse from Georgie Porgie. This novel centers of Alex Cross, a psychologist-detective who is on the trail of a couple of serial killers called The Gentleman Caller and Casanova. As their aliases suggest, they go after women, kidnapping, raping then murdering them. Cross is involved because his niece has been abducted by one of them. This was made into a movie in 1997 with Morgan Freeman as Cross.
Red Dragon by Thomas Harris
This is a prequel of the story of Hannibal Lecter. The story centers on FBI Agent Will Graham who captured Lecter who by then is a serial killer. Sometime later Graham is called up to go after a serial killer initially called the Tooth Fairy and later the Red Dragon after a change in persona. In order to catch him, Graham must turn to Lecter for guidance in the same manner as Clarice Starling has done; to get into the mind of the killer to be able to predict his next move. This has been made into a film twice and later adapted for television.