Son

A Psychopath and His Victims

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About The Book

A classic from “the dean of true crime” (The Washington Post)—now with a new foreword—this 1983 masterpiece tells the incredible story of a Spokane, Washington serial rapist who was exposed as the handsome, privileged son of one of the city’s most elite families.

For more than two years, a rapist prowled the night streets of the homey, All-American city of Spokane, Washington, terrorizing women, sparking a run on gun stores, and finally causing one newspaper to offer a reward—the calls taken by the distinguished managing editor himself, Gordon Coe. In March 1981, luck and inspired police work at last produced an arrest, and Spokane shuddered. The suspect was clean cut and conservative…and Gordon Coe’s son.

For eighteen months, Jack Olsen researched the cases of Fred and Ruth Coe to try to learn not only what happened within that family, but how and why. He interviewed more than 150 people and built up a portrait not only of that extraordinary family, but of the mind of a psychopath. And searching the memories of the women in Fred Coe’s life, he unearthed a most horrifying question: What is it like to love and live with a man for years—and then discover he is a psychopathic criminal?

In this “gruesomely spellbinding” (Glamour) examination of the mind of a psychopath and of the women—and men—who were his victims, Olsen delivers “a harrowing portrait…It has become fashionable with books about vicious crimes to compare them to Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. Finally there is a book that deserves the comparison” (Richmond Times-Dispatch).

About The Author

John Harris

Born June 7, 1925, Jack Olsen was the award-winning author of thirty-three books published in fifteen countries and eleven languages, including Son: A Psychopath and His Victims. A former Time bureau chief, Olsen wrote for Vanity Fair, People, Sports Illustrated, Fortune, and The New York Times Book Review, among others.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Scribner (October 6, 2015)
  • Length: 592 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781501119040

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Raves and Reviews

“Fascinating . . . recreates the bizarre chain of events that unraveled the fabric of a seemingly all-American family and scarred the lives of so many innocent people. Olsen succeeds on all levels, from detailed storytelling and haunting character studies to compassionate treatment of the rape victims.”

– Los Angeles Times

“Superlative reporting. Olsen turns what promises to be another run-of-the-mill crime story into a drama that invites comparison to Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood.”

– Newsday

“A chilling story . . . Gruesomely spellbinding.”

– Glamour

“A hefty, detailed, and horrifying masterpiece. . . . This reprint not only adds a personal touch from best-selling true-crime author Gregg Olsen but puts in a new, portable form what is arguably Jack's finest book.”

– Booklist

“Remarkably well done. . . Olsen brings his strange subjects to vivid life in this memorable reconstruction.”

– Publisher's Weekly

“A riveting look at the monster lurking beneath a criminal psychopath’s polished exterior. . . . Hits the reader with loaded bursts of insight, terror, and tragedy.”

– Detroit News

“Might be the book that wins the Pulitzer Prize for Jack Olsen. . . .Vividly and thoroughly describes a psychopathic rapist.”

– The Milwaukee Journal

“An extraordinary case. . . . A harrowing portrait . . . . It has become fashionable with books about vicious crimes to compare them to Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. Finally there is a book that deserves the comparison.”

– Richmond Times-Dispatch

“A-read-until-four a.m. book! . . . I have never read a book that delineates the psychopathology of both the rapist and his disintegrating family so graphically . . . Every woman in America should read Son.”

– Ann Rule, author of The Stranger Beside Me

“[Has] powerful impact.”

– People

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