Murder in Plain English: From Manifestos to Memes–Looking at Murder through the Words of Killers

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The twenty-four-hour news cycle makes it feel like murder is on the rise when in fact we’re at a fifty-year low in the United States. But when you have serial killers and mass murderers getting monstrous amounts of air time for the sake of ratings, you can’t help but breed a fascination for these destructive outliers.

Murder in Plain English attempts to bring these killers to earth by analyzing them through their words, through their writings, through their interviews. It presents a fascinating idea — how killers build their own narratives to justify what they do — all while trying to answer a curious question: is there one universal story of murder in human history, or are there many?

From Columbine and Dylann Roof to Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook, Arntfield and Danesi try to understand the process through which these killers make themselves into heroes, victims, and martyrs all at once and how the growth of the Internet might be changing that narrative-building.

Although it’s a book steeped in horrors, Murder in Plain English makes a valiant effort at trying to get ahead of the next tragedy by understanding and categorizing the bad guys. It’s a tough yet valuable read.

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Star Count 4/5
Format Hard
Page Count 325 pages
Publisher Prometheus Books
Publish Date 2017-Mar-07
ISBN 9781633882539 Buy this Book
Issue April 2017
Category Mystery, Crime, Thriller


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