Saturday, September 23, 2017

Book Review: 'Hunting The Ultimate Kill' by Jack Rosewood

Florida author Jack Rosewood inherited his fascination for heinous crimes from his father, a journalist covering major grim crimes such as Ted Bundy. He is fascinated with serial killers – their development psychologically, their preparation for their life of crime, and the details of how they made their bloody black marks on the world. Jack moves from his usual collection of intensive studies of serial killers to explore two crazed men who under the influence of crystal meth committed murders of at least twenty people – crimes that are likely discoveries for the reader – even the Jack Rosewood reader!

As usual Jack opens with an introduction explaining the decision to place this gruesome story before us: ‘In the criminal world, which is full of sociopathic and sadistic predators, the serial killer is considered by many to be the “apex” predator. The apex predator sits at the top of the predatory killing chain. The serial killer assesses when the situation is right to strike and take its prey. Anyone—no matter the age, race, or gender—is subject to the whims of a serial killer, and unfortunately, anyone can become a victim at any time. And that is what makes serial killers so frightening in modern times—despite the protection that modern civilization affords us, we can still become victims of crimes, and although rare, we can become the victim of a serial killer. And what happens when the apex predator is multiplied? What happens when a serial killer decides to bring a friend along for the fun of the kill? Generally speaking, the mayhem and misery is exponentially increased. For nearly twenty years, from the mid-1980s until the late 1990s, the Central Valley region of California was ravaged by a pair of serial killers known as the “Speed Freak Killers” who dished out their own brand of misery for kicks and thrills. The two killers, Loren Herzog and Wesley Shermantine, were childhood friends who shared many of the same hobbies, including hiking, fishing, hunting, and killing people. In many ways, the case of the Speed Freak Killers is not unlike that of other serial killer pairings and groups. Shermantine and Herzog definitely had their share of individual problems, but probably neither would have become a serial killer if it were not for the other. The two men fed off of each other’s negative energies which led to a long series of murders. Most experts believe their sprees resulted in the deaths of at least twenty people, possibly as many as seventy. But that is not the entire story. Shermantine and Herzog differed from other serial killer pairs and groups, because they murdered over such a long period of time, thereby amassing a kill count much greater than most of their predecessors. The story of the Speed Freak Killers is truly frightening, not just for the despicable and deplorable acts that Loren Herzog and Wesley Shermantine inflicted on scores of innocent people, but also because there was nothing spectacular about either man that stood out and warned others that they were “serial killers.” This book chronicles the case of the Speed Freak Killers as completely as possible. Since there are still aspects of their cases being litigated, the final chapter may not be written for several more years. With that said, this book presents most of the information from their cases—interviews with those involved including the killers, their victims’ families, and the law enforcement personnel who brought them to justice, as well as court reports and other legal information—in a concise, chronological manner that is easy to follow…Whatever caused their future troubles, by the time the two men graduated from high school during the mid-1980s, they were well on their way to becoming drug addicted thugs who enjoyed intimidating and bullying people in San Joaquin County, California. The thrills that Shermantine and Herzog got from snorting meth and beating people were not enough for them, though. The two men began an odyssey of murder and mayhem across California’s Central Valley that lasted for two decades. Over the course of their long murder sprees, the two men experimented with different methods of killing. Sometimes, they killed their victims and left them at the murder scenes. In other instances, usually involving young women or girls, they abducted their victims for sadistic torture sessions before murdering them and dumping them down wells and mine shafts. While Herzog and Shermantine brutally murdered people in the Central Valley, they both attempted to maintain normal fa├žades of being responsible family men. Their facades, though, were typical of many psychopaths and sociopaths who are able to put on one mask for society, while slipping behind another as they carry out their antisocial acts…etc’

And that is just from the introduction – the ‘meat’ of the book (pardon the pun) is tough to read, but the book is so thoroughly investigated with every aspect of the history and psychology of serial killers explored that this becomes one of Jack Rosewood’s finest books – and that is saying a lot! Grady Harp, September 17

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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