A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Thursday, January 16, 2020

TRUE CRIME THURSDAY- American Predator- by Maureen Callahan- Feature and Review


A gripping tour de force of investigative journalism that takes us deep into the investigation behind one of the most frightening and enigmatic serial killers in modern American history, and into the ranks of a singular American police force: the Alaska PD.

Most of us have never heard of Israel Keyes. But he is one of the most ambitious, meticulous serial killers of modern time. The FBI considered his behavior unprecedented. Described by a prosecutor as "a force of pure evil", he was a predator who struck all over the United States. He buried 'kill kits' - cash, weapons, and body-disposal tools - in remote locations across the country, and over the course of fourteen years, would fly to a city, rent a car, and drive thousands of miles in order to use his kits. He would break into a stranger's house, abduct his victims in broad daylight, and kill and dispose of them in mere hours. And then he would return home, resuming life as a quiet, reliable construction worker devoted to his only daughter.

When journalist Maureen Callahan first heard about Israel Keyes in 2012, she was captivated by how a killer of this magnitude could go undetected by law enforcement for over a decade. And so began a project that consumed her for the next several years - uncovering the true story behind how the FBI ultimately caught Israel Keyes, and trying to understand what it means for a killer like Keyes to exist. A killer who left a path of monstrous, randomly committed crimes in his wake - many of which remain unsolved to this day.

American Predator is the ambitious culmination of years of on-the-ground interviews with key figures in law enforcement, and in Keyes' life, and research uncovered from classified FBI files. Callahan takes us on a journey into the chilling, nightmarish mind of a relentless killer, and the limitations of traditional law enforcement, in one of America's most isolated environments - Alaska - when faced with a killer who defies all expectation and categorization.



American Predator: The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21st CenturyAmerican Predator: The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21st Century by Maureen Callahan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

American Predator: The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21st Century by Maureen Callahan is a Viking publication.

When I first noticed this book, the crime didn’t ring any bells for me. As the blurb stated most of us had never heard of Israel Keyes. As far I knew, this was a true crime story I had heard nothing about. But, after reading several positive reviews from my Goodreads peers, my curiosity was piqued, so I added it to the pile.

The book opens in Alaska, with a harrowing scene, in which a teenage girl is kidnapped, her fate obviously precarious. The girl’s father immediately swings into action, collecting reward money for any information about his daughter. However, some of his actions raised a few eyebrows and he quickly became law enforcement's first person of interest.

Meanwhile, Israel Keyes, was moving far, far away from Alaska. Eventually he was pulled over by the cops in Texas, leading to his arrest for murder. It would soon come to light that Israel Keyes had a long history of rape and murder-possibly dating back as far as 1996.

Callahan follows the investigation from Alaska to Texas and back again. Readers get to see what challenges law enforcement faced, including jockeying for position, jurisdiction issues, and politics.

Not only that, judging from the intense interrogations, the investigation was far from pretty. It was a very complex and complicated situation, to be sure. Despite that, the monster was caught- although it was mostly pure luck.

The story was definitely absorbing, and Keyes’ background was truly shocking. But, as the manhunt transitioned to Texas, I was stunned to learn that Keyes had planned his crime so carefully, he had even created a cunning escape route through Texas well in advance. Not only that, one of the spots on this journey through Texas just happened to be in the town I reside in. What? For the life of me, I could not recall hearing anything about this. So, I quickly did a Google search and sure enough, back in 2012 Keyes passed through my little town.

Not only that, he made a pit stop at a state park about thirty miles away, where he had nearly chosen his next victim. The woman was walking a large dog and Keyes ultimately decided that disposing of both a dead body and a large dead dog was too much of a hassle.

In my defense, this did happen eight years ago, and I’ve slept since then. However, now I do vaguely remember hearing about a serial killer marking out our town on a map while planning his escape route. While we may have been spared any of Keyes’ evil doings, investigators are positive that Keyes probably did take someone while he was in Texas.

I guess you never know how close to true evil we are at any given time.

But- I digress-

Overall, this is a spine-tingling true crime saga. Although Keyes never became a household name like other serial killers of his caliber, he was every bit as chilling and terrifying. The man was an enigma, a kind of hybrid serial killer, who failed to fit into a neat profile. He was cunning and as the title states- meticulous! Truly the stuff nightmares are made of!

True Crime enthusiasts will not want to miss this one!






Maureen Callahan is a New York Times bestselling author, award-winning investigative journalist, columnist, and commentator. She has covered everything from pop culture to politics. Her writing has appeared in Vanity Fair, New York, Spin, and the New York Post, where she is Critic-at-Large. She lives in New York. Visit her at maureencallahan.net.

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