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A Violent Act Paperback – Mar 1994

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More About the Author

Alec Wilkinson began writing for The New Yorker in 1980. Before that, he was a policeman in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, and before that he was a rock-and-roll musician. He has published nine books, including The Happiest Man in the World and The Protest Singer. His honours include a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Lyndhurst Prize, and a Robert F. Kennedy Book Award.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Alec Wilkinson's A Violent Act 25 Jun. 2000
By Melissa Wright - Published on
Format: Paperback
This true account of the spree murders perpetrated by Mike Wayne Jackson in Indianapolis in 1986 gives the reader more than just a typical "true crime" story. It seems as if Wilkinson divided the telling of this tragedy into three parts: the murders, the search for Jackson, and the day- to-day stories of the victims following the murders. The stories of each person involved in the crime (including Jackson's mother, the first victim's widow, etc.) are each written extremely well, and each helps us to understand the crime better, as all of the people that were involved in this crime are trying to do.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Well Worth Reading 23 Jan. 2007
By Dan Bogaty - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Alec Wilkinson, in "A Violent Act" has written a true crime documentary which is quite unlike most of the boilerplate true crime being written. This book, as opposed to much of the unintersting tripe being marketed, was obviously a long time in the writing.
This is a story about Mike Jackson, a dangerous small time burglar and hold-up man who kills his probation officer and leads authorities on a week long search. The book is well-written, literate and intelligent, and is obviously the product of extensive interviewing and research. The effects of the murder on the victim's family, which include some odd and increasingly strange contacts by the family of the killer, are discussed in detail. The major focus of the book however is Mike Jackson. I can not overemphasize the depth of the author's research and of his presentation of Jackson's life: the fact that early on he exhibited the inability to cope with simple childhood experiences; his inability to perform even the most menial jobs except criminal ones where no continuing personal interaction was necessary; the long stretches he spent in jail; and his descent into psychosis.
The reason I gave the book 4 rather than 5 stars is that I felt Wilkinson went on too long, and ultimately excessively, about the search efforts of the FBI and other police groups. While some of this was necessary and interesting, Wilkinson described the police efforts for each day of an effort that lasted over a week. Since most of these days were numbingly the same, Wilkinson's narrative also becomes numbing during this part of the book.
The in depth study of Mike Jackson is however superb. Wilkinson writes about him with such understanding and empathy that his writing about Jackson, a man who less talented writers would simply dismiss as an evil career criminal, sometimes approaches tenderness.
This book is well worth reading and will be appreciated by fans of true crime who are interested in real understanding an event.
Lots of Facts Didn't Make the Killings Interesting 1 Sept. 2014
By Sandi Kay Wheatley - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The writer is in pure reportorial style. His sentences are short. His pace is sometimes plodding. He tells the story. Simply. While there's nothing inherently wrong in this, it's almost as if he's 'writing down' to his audience. We do get a full picture of both the crimes and the chase to hunt down the nut case who kills & abuses & steals on his spree. I found it hard to work up much sympathy for him and was frankly relieved that he ends his own life. The best part of the book for me was the fact that the author is able to render dialogue in a believable way and give one some sense of his interviews. I'd term it average because of the lack of interesting crime - but better than average because of careful research.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Three Stars 21 Feb. 2015
By Lori Anderson - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The wife of the murder officer is my neighbor. What an awful thing to go through.
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