Media Madness: Public Images of Mental Illness

By Otto F. Wahl | Go to book overview

Appendix C
Novels about Mentally Ill Killers

To give readers a more complete picture of the typical content of current fiction featuring mentally ill killers, this appendix provides descriptions of fifteen selected novels. All of the novels were either published since 1985 or re-released since 1985. All appeared in paperback editions and were available at regular bookstores and newsstands. Promotional prose, plot summaries, and other information relevant to the depiction of mental illness are described for each book. These selections are clearly not an exhaustive listing of this type of novel but merely a sampling; these examples, in fact, are culled from a list of over fifty such novels I have found. Limitations of space prevent me from detailing all of these novels. It is hoped that the fifteen selected are sufficient to illustrate the common themes and features of novels in which mentally ill killers are presented as central characters.

Mary Higgins Clark, Loves Music, Loves to Dance ( New York: Simon & Schuster, 1991).

Not only does the killer in this novel, the "dancing shoe murderer," strangle young women he has lured through ads in the personal columns of newspapers, but he dances with them after they are dead and retains the shoes of his victims. He also sometimes keeps their bodies in a freezer until he has the opportunity to bury them on a large estate he owns. The killer is referred to as a madman and a psychopath. He functions effectively--as a psychiatrist-- most of the time; he is charming, attractive, and respected. Although no specific diagnosis is offered, there is the clear suggestion that multiple personality disorder is at work here, with the crimes committed by Charlie, an alternate identity of the psychiatrist. Clark also includes mentally ill characters in other novels--a murder suspect (although an innocent one) with multiple personality disorder in All Around the Town ( 1992) and "a cunning psychopath" who

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Media Madness: Public Images of Mental Illness
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Preface xi
  • Chapter One - Madness, Madness Everywhere 1
  • Chapter Two - Words and Laughter 14
  • Chapter Three - A Breed Apart 36
  • Chapter Four - Murder and Mayhem 56
  • Chapter Five - So What? 87
  • Chapter Six - So, Why? 110
  • Chapter Seven - Future Images 132
  • Chapter Eight - Exit Lines 164
  • Appendix A - Films about Mental Illness 169
  • Appendix B - Television Shows about Mental Illness 180
  • Appendix C - Novels about Mentally Ill Killers 189
  • Notes 195
  • Index 209
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