Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Nothing Says Christmas Like A Serial Killer!

There are competing "Iceman" movies in development/production, both revolving around the exploits of mobster hitman Richard Kuklinski. Kuklinski, who died none-too-soon in prison in 2006, opened up in the '90's for a couple of creepy documentaries that ran on HBO. He also spilled his guts to various journalist types hoping to get his gruesome exploits down on paper.

Philip Carlo's "Iceman: Confessions Of A Mafia Hitman" is a baroque collection of Kuklinski's ravings, many of which are so outlandish and gruesome that they defy common sense. Kuklinski brags he was part of the crew that took out Jimmy Hoffa, that he offed victims by leaving them bound and gagged in a never-found cave so rats could eat them alive, that he tossed the severed genitals of one still-living victim to sharks (!) then heaved the guy into the bay as dessert, etc., etc., etc. Others with more experience/journalistic knowledge than I have noted that at least SOME of the crazier stories would have made the papers (blowing up a gas station in Los Angeles?) and yet... didn't. Meaning it seems Kuklinski was inventing some of these exploits to pass the time, audition for the Dexter writing staff (just kidding!) or burnish his thug credentials...

"The Iceman: The True Story Of a Cold-Blooded Killer" by Anthony Bruno takes a more analytical approach, spending as much book time with the cops that took Kuklinski down as with the killer himself. Since this one focuses on killings that were pretty much proven to have been Kuklinski's handiwork, there is less of that uncomfortable feeling that we're reading Kuklinski's deranged fantasies. Plus I was intrigued by the police-work aspect, the months and months it took for an undercover cop to finally get Kuklinski's confidence. I always get uncomfortable with straight "serial killer" narratives that eschew the law enforcement angle, because I want to hear about the good guys AND the bad guys. So in the Kuklinski creepy book contest, I give the coveted "no balls to sharks" award to Mr. Bruno...


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