Killer Clown: The John Wayne Gacy Murders | Terry Sullivan | Book Review

I know you’re probably going to be disappointed in me for my rating of this, but please don’t be. For those of you who do not know me personally, I will inform you of one important detail: I am very fascinated by and generally well versed about true crime, therefore it is the genre that I am most critical of.

Halloween costume from 2018 below. John Wayne Gacy, Aileen Wuornos, and Jeffrey Dahmer.

When it comes to mysteries, romance, or other fiction novels, I am less judgmental because at the end of the day, regardless of how great, or not great, the story or writing was, I am usually entertained.

However, when you’re reading something that is non-fiction, and especially when you are knowledgeable about the topic, it is easier to be more demanding because you would hope that the author would do solid research and have more information than you were able to find on a google search or by watching the ID channel.

One may also expect a detailed and true account of the entire story, from beginning to end, in a well written fashion and well paced timeline. (A serial killer’s childhood, teenage years, arrest history, psychology, run down of the crimes, how they were caught, the victim’s lives, etc.) 

Here’s why this book didn’t work for me.


John Wayne Gacy is one of America’s most prolific serial killers. But before his capture in 1978, he was known as a business man, a hospital visiting clown that brightened patients days, and a helpful member of the community.

This same man assaulted and murdered thirty-three young boys and had a checkered history of arrests and accusations regarding violent sexual assaults.

This book is written by the man who helped capture the monster; a first hand account of capturing John Wayne Gacy.

Quit Clownin’ Around…

This book has so many four and five star reviews, and for the life of me I cannot understand why.

Let’s be honest… we all know what we’re here for, don’t try denying it.

If you’re anything like me, you want to read about John Wayne Gacy. How he grew up, his crimes and accusations leading up to the murders, stories from the survivors, old friends, and ex-wives, as well as a decent and informative account of the crimes and murders of the boys found in his crawl space. Maybe even top it off with the court hearing and sentencing.

Is that too much to expect from a non-fiction true crime novel? I think not! But apparently so.

My Review:

(No spoilers.)

I listened to this on Audible and it was 14 hours. The first half of this book, and I am not exaggerating, literally the first 7 hours, is repetitive police accounts of tailing John Wayne Gacy.

It describes what the cops ate for breakfast that day, how erratic John Wayne Gacy drives, how many times he slipped on ice walking into his house, (an alarmingly high amount, actually,) more police procedure, what the cops ate for lunch, driving around again, and more police procedure. All of which has very little or nothing to do with his crimes or capture. And literally repeat that for seven hours.

Sure, it was interesting to hear about the way Gacy interacted with the police force while knowing he was being followed and suspected of kidnapping Robert Piest. However, other than that, which is a very small portion of the of the first 7 hours of the book, everything else is a play by play of police procedure, and nothing more.

This was gravely disappointing and hard to listen to. I literally thought my audio book was skipping, that’s how repetitive it is.

By the time you get to the crawlspace, you’re thinking, “Finally, we’re here! They’ll have to start talking about the crimes, right?” Haha, no, girl! Apparently they don’t!

Eventually, between the crawlspace and court hearing, we do have two or three survivor’s accounts of John Wayne Gacy’s assaults. They also have a few statements from his ex wives. These are the most fascinating parts of the novel, but they do not make up for what came before or after.

My Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Be forewarned, in this novel John Wayne Gacy’s crimes are never fully detailed, explained, or theorized. There is no timeline and little historic detail of the murderer himself. It is only about the force capturing and convicting him.

This should’ve been titled “Killer Clown: The Police Force That Captured John Wayne Gacy.” And I would’ve never… friggin… read it.

This book ended up being it’s own form of torture for me, really.

Save yourself.


Ande Strega

2 responses to “Killer Clown: The John Wayne Gacy Murders | Terry Sullivan | Book Review”

  1. How disappointing! Never apologize for being critical of a book just because you’re well versed on the subject. In my opinion, if you’re writing a book about a notorious (insert any subject), you should be bringing something new and informational to the game. Otherwise, just don’t waste people’s time.

    Liked by 1 person

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