The one book you need to read if you think you're an expert on the BTK killer
What if you found out your father was a serial killer?
This is the question at the heart of the book "A Serial Killer's Daughter" by Kerri Rawson, the daughter of the infamous BTK killer.
There are so many documentaries, movies, and books on the horrific crimes of Dennis Rader, The BTK Killer who bound, tortured, and killed ten victims, including two children. However, he got away with his crime spree for over thirty years and had a wife, a son, and a daughter who had no idea that their father was another man entirely.
This book is told from Kerri Rawson's perspective, and it is a raw, genuine, honest look at the man who was her father... and how her world crashed down when the news broke. This book, however, doesn't focus on the man the media focused on. It focused on the man who was her father. It gives insight into how Dennis Rader was able to compartmentalize the two sides of his personality.
Kerri goes into great detail about her life with her father and family. She doesn't seem to sugarcoat anything and really takes the reader on her journey through growing up, through betrayal, through guilt, and through recovery. She gives you a very different vantage point of true crime, one that few really stop to think about.
It's impossible not to put yourself in Kerri's shoes as you read. She takes something almost none of us could ever understand and helps us understand just a little bit more. You feel for her as she struggles with reconciling the man who did evil things with the man she knew her whole life.
I admire her bravery for telling her tale and for showing the other side of her father, the one few of us recognize. It is easy to make serial killers out to be purely evil monsters, but she reminds us that the lines between good and evil are sometimes murky.
I clearly cannot speak from experience and do not claim to speak for the victims' families, but I did feel that Kerri did a good job at handling the delicate subject matter with raw honesty and with sensitivity. I could see how some might argue it glorified her father and mitigated what he did. However, I didn't get that sense at all. I felt like she admitted his faults and recognized the pain he caused while also expressing the truth--the man she knew was different from the man known as BTK.
In an unexpected way, the book also instills a sense of hope. Kerri reveals how she was able to find her way to light from the darkness. She is a true survivor and has a story that could instill hope in others dealing with betrayal, lies, secrets, and difficult times.
The writing is excellent and emotional. I recommend this book for anyone interested in true crime because you get to see a different side to the story and understand that a criminal's family, in many ways, falls under the victim category as well.
5 stars for this raw, powerful memoir.
USA TODAY Bestselling Thriller author with Avon Books (HarperCollins), The Widow Next Door