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Killer Department: The Eight-year Hunt for the Most Savage Serial Killer of Our Times Paperback – 6 Jan 1994

4.9 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Orion (6 Jan. 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1857972104
  • ISBN-13: 978-1857972108
  • Product Dimensions: 17.6 x 11.4 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 332,729 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The hunt for this psychopath was a painfully long catalogue of false assumptions and political interference. The eventual success in finding and prosecuting him was a real testament to the perseverence and brilliant detective work of a small number of determined men.

Cullen's book tells us about those men and what made them who they were, how they battled against bureaucracy, inefficiency and downright stupidity to keep the investigation moving, and eventually to get it to focus on realistic leads, rather than propaganda targets and small-minded prejudices. As portrayed in the film (Citizen X), the skill of psychologist is predicting who this character would be, and his motives, is quite chilling.

It is easy to dismiss the hurdles they faced as a soviet phenomena, born of excessive political control and a deeply conservative social atmosphere. Cullen occasionally falls into this trap, but not in an overtly relativistic way - after all, we cannot forget that similar criminal investigations have been beset by delay and failures in the US and Europe.

This book is hard reading, and not for the squeamish. Cullen does not spare his audience the grotesque details of Chikatilo's actions, or the despair and anger felt by the victims' families.

The details about the (rather farcical) trial are both interesting and saddening ... and contrast interestingly with the psychologist's stated desire that this man not be executed as he presented such a valuable opportunity for study of his condition to help identify and prevent further atrocities by those similarly afflicted.

The book ends with the author having an face-to-face meeting with Chikatilo not long before his execution. Though short, this is fascinating ...
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Format: Paperback
Excellent from start to finish......a little misleading to call him Russia's Hannibal Lecter, as he was Ukrainian and preyed on the (mainly) underclass of Rostov society...whereas the fictional Lecter killed 'vulgar people' who displeased him in some way. Chikatilo had no such discerning qualities.

This is a desperately sad book, aside form the slaughter of 50+ innocents (mainly young adults and children), it is sad (unbelievably) from the perspective of the killer. You actually find yourself feeling a slither of compassion, even sympathy for Chikatilo, as his psycho-sexual neurosis becomes all too apparent. This tiny slither is brought back into check though, as you begin to realise that he cannot have been the only Soviet child brutalised by appalling poverty and barbarity under Stalin's rule during the 40s. His sexual problems cannot be unique to him either. The book is a highly readable account of Soviet society at the time of the end of Communism. It is not for the faint-hearted, as some of his crimes are barely believable....in fact, if it wasn't all fact and reported in court, you would not believe a human being could commit crimes like these in the 20th Century....
Well written, in an unsensational or sentimental style. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in Soviet pre-Glasnost history and serial killers....an interesting combination.
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A chilling,compelling and factual account of one of the most infamous serial killers in history. For those interested in the Soviet system it provides a fascinating insight into the criminal justice system of that era. I really couldn't put it down. Certainly not a read for those prone to nightmares !
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I had watched the film, 'Citizen X', a couple of times and was fascinated enough to buy one of the books which inspired it.

How difficult it is to give 5 stars, saying 'I love it', to a book describing and analysing horrendous crimes and their perpetrator in Soviet Russia. Robert Cullen's book is masterful. Equally masterful is the detective he writes about who spent many years unravelling the mystery of a serial killer in a country where the soviet leaders maintained that serial killers were a problem only in western society.

I cannot 'love' this book but I was engrossed and it added to the background of a thought-provoking, excellent film.
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