The Double Life of a Serial Killer
By John Leake
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Hardcover, 9780374148454, 368pp.)
Publication Date: November 13, 2007
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"I was a greedy, ravenous individual, determined to rise from the bottom to the top . . . It wasn't me!"--Jack Unterweger's final words to his jury Serial killers rarely travel internationally. So in the early 1990s, when detectives from the Los Angeles Police Department began to find bodies of women strangled with their own bras, it didn't occur to them at first to make a connection with the bodies being uncovered in the woods outside of Vienna, Austria. The LAPD waited for the killer to strike again. Meanwhile, in Austria, the police followed what few clues they had. The case intrigued many reporters, but few as keenly as Jack Unterweger, a local celebrity. He cut a striking figure, this little man in expensive white suits. His expertise on Vienna's criminal underworld was hard-earned. He had been sentenced to life in jail as a young man. But while incarcerated, he began to write--and his work earned him the glowing attention of the literary elite. The intelligentsia lobbied for his release and by 1990, Jack was free again. He continued writing, nurturing his career as a journalist. But though he now traveled in the highest circles, he had a secret life. He was killing again, and in the greatest of ironies, reporting on the very crimes he had committed. With unprecedented access to Jack's diaries and letters, John Leake peels back the layers of deception to reveal the life and crimes of Jack Unterweger, and in unnerving detail, exposes the thrilling twists--both in the United States and Europe--that led to Jack's capture and Austria's "trial of the century."
John Leake was born in Dallas, Texas, and earned his MA in philosophy at Boston University. After winning a fellowship at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna, he lived there on and off for six years, working as a translator and editor. This is his first book.