CAT AND MOUSE: Mind Games with a Serial Killer
Here’s the pitch: A lawyer and television writer tries to write the story of a real killer.
Brian Alan Lane, whose credits include scripts for Hart to Hart and Star Trek: The Next Generation, received a collect call one night from convicted killer Suff, currently on California’s death row for murdering prostitutes (he was convicted of 12 murders and suspected of more). Lane eventually became Suff’s attorney.
But this isn’t so much a history of the case as the record of an encounter with “a living, breathing serial killer.” Lane takes an unaccountably cocky attitude that promises he will reveal the truth about Suff. This jumble begins with Lane’s statement that “there are no ‘facts’ in this book. . . . Everything is impression,” and continues with a sickening chart detailing what kind of evidence was found on the bodies of Suff’s victims.
The book also includes some of Suff’s short stories and excerpts from an odd cookbook that tell us very little about the mind of a serial killer. Though Lane has many murder victims to discuss—including one of Suff’s own children—he scarcely describes them.
According to police and prosecutors, Suff was a uniquely talented killer who approached the mutilation of his victims as though it were art. He roamed the streets of Riverside, Calif., in his van, looking for prostitutes to kill, all the while maintaining a fairly normal life. Lane actually has a few valid things to say about the killings, but spends much of his time analyzing himself in the wake of a horrible accident in which he killed his best friend, brother, and mother.
While Suff’s case clearly raises some interesting questions about the nature of madness and violence, and about the factors that create a serial killer, Lane doesn’t seriously address them, or arrive at any useful conclusions.
CAT AND MOUSE: Mind Games with a Serial Killer by Brian Alan Lane (with original writings by Bill Suff, eeeewww)