Paperback : 29 May 2008
The press call him the Black River Killer and his stats are shocking: 16 murders; not captured in 20 years; the FBI’s best profiler – Jack King – burned out and beaten, his career shattered.
Jack and his wife now run a hotel in Tuscany. And though he still gets nightmares, rural Italy is a whole world away from BRK's brutal crime scenes in Southern Carolina. Or so Jack thought . . .
As Italian cops discover the body of a young woman – her remains mutilated like BRK's victims - a gruesome package arrives at the FBI, twin events that conspire to lure the profiler back into the hunt.
But this time, who is the spider and who is the fly?
Customer Review: 11 June 2009
Reviewer: C. Harris-Plant
'I am an avid reader, always looking for new authors. I was enthralled by this book, as were my husband, mother and sister. An excellent read, can''t give enough praise for michael morley. '» Submit a review
Interrogation Room: Michael Morley
For your TV documentaries you have interviewed several imprisoned serial killers, and they sometimes told you more than the police could find out in their investigations. Why have your interviews been so successful?
I think I had several advantages in these interviews. Firstly, I didn’t have all the pressures, stresses and deadlines that detectives face when they carry out their interviews. Detectives work under enormously difficult conditions – they have to deal with the expectations and emotions of the victims’ families, the fears of the general public that more murders may happen, and even internal budgetary and political pressures. They also have to carry out their interviews in very formal ways and then later be able to substantiate everything that’s been said in a Court of Law. I had none of those burdens to carry into the interview room, only a camera. Secondly, the people I was interviewing felt they could be more open with me because I wasn’t a police officer and I made a point of showing that I was there to listen rather than to ask them questions. Eventually, if you listen long enough, serial killers will usually tell you two types of things – what they think you want to hear and what you want to know. The real art is deciding where the truth lies.
Did writing your first novel Spider help you to overcome the experiences you had with the serial killers you met?
I had no personal difficulties interviewing any of the serial killers I spoke to. However, I made a programme called Behind Closed Doors, which was an exclusive interview with a remarkable woman called Anne-Marie West. She was the daughter of serial killers Fred and Rosemary West. Fred and Rosemary West killed at least a dozen young women and buried nine of them in the garden of their house. Anne-Marie grew up in home of extreme violence, humiliation and sexual abuse. I was the first person to interview Anne-Marie after she’d given police evidence and I was profoundly distressed by what had happened to her. There are things she told me that her stepmother made her do that I will never tell another living soul. After this programme I vowed I would never do any more projects related to child abuse or child murder.
Did you – in any respect – change your life after having seen so deeply in the abyss of the human soul? Did these insights change your own view of life in general?
My experiences in investigating, reporting and writing about crime have undoubtedly affected me. I am extremely security conscious and hugely protective about my wife and children. I don’t take any personal risks in public and I try very hard to ensure that they don’t. Serial killers, rapists, child abusers, muggers, kidnappers and such like are pure predators – they’re street wolves looking for easy prey. It makes sense to ensure that you never become that. I’d urge everyone to think about their personal safety, plan to be safe, don’t take it for granted.
I’ve interviewed many killers – husbands who’ve murdered wives, contract killers, sexual killers and even child killers. The thing that strikes you most is that they don’t stand out. Drama tends to demonise them, where in fact they look normal, act normal and seem perfectly normal, for 90 per cent of the time. If you didn’t know these people’s crimes, you’d find them funny, charming, bright, intelligent and even trustworthy. Appearances can – and often are – extremely deceptive.
The day after a gruesome act, the Black River Killer has the so called “day after shakes”. Are “the day after shakes” a real-life phenomenon? What is it exactly?
It’s based on fact. There are many different reasons why serial killers murder their victims. Some are aroused by the murder; some see killing as a necessity to ensure they don’t get caught. Whatever the reason, straight after the murder, their anxiety levels reach a massive peak. This is ‘the day after shakes’. It’s the offender’s most vulnerable period and they often take days off work because they simply can’t cope with the stress of being discovered. When it becomes apparent that the police are not about to knock on their front door and arrest them, then they start to ‘cool-off’ and the anxiety subsides. After a certain period of time the anxiety bottoms-out completely and they become convinced they have got away with the crime. Sadly. The murder cycle is now about to begin again. Once their anxiety has disappeared then they start to feel confident and fantasise about their next crime, and their next victim. As serial killers carry out more and more murders the gap between feeling anxious and starting to fantasise about carrying out their next offence gets shorter and shorter. This is the period of escalation, the development phase of a serial murderer than law enforcement officers fear the most.
How much of you is there in your hero Jack King?
He’s an exact replica – I’m also a very tall good-looking American who has a razor-sharp mind and could win the heart of any beautiful and intelligent woman. Okay, that’s a total lie. I’m a short, ugly British guy who got lucky and met an exceptionally clever and beautiful woman who I tricked into marrying me (see – I’m not so stupid!). Seriously - I’m far more like Nancy than Jack.
Spider begins shortly after Jack King has retreated to Tuscany with his family. Why does he choose Tuscany of all landscapes?
Jack ends up in Tuscany because I adore the place – for me it is the most romantic and dramatic setting on earth. A decade ago my girlfriend Donna and I went to Tuscany right after discovering that she was pregnant. It was the best holiday of our lives. We cycled through vineyards, sheltered under the shade of cherry trees, lit candles in the cool of majestic churches and prayed for the health of our unborn child. It was heaven on earth! Back in 06 Donna and I (plus our very, very healthy 8-year old son, Billy) went back to virtually the same place, and got married in Pienza and honeymooned in San Quirico, two of the key settings in the book.
The end of Spider indicates that Jack King might be involved in a new case. Will you continue writing Jack King novels?
The second Jack King novel has been finished and the third just begun. The second involves the Camorra, an ancient crime organisation in Naples that predates the Mafia and makes Tony Soprano and his gang look like choir boys. I recently spent time in Naples with both the Carabinieri and real-life Camorristi and it gave me a fascinating insight into their power and influence. Naples is the home of pizza, Mount Vesuvius and the deadliest serial killer Jack King has ever encountered.
Who is your first reader?
Depends how gruesome it is. Sometimes my wife, sometimes my editor at Penguin. They’re both great at encouraging and correcting me when my train of imagination starts to veer off the tracks of quality of acceptability.
Could you name authors or books that inspire you?
Dr Seuss: read any of his books to your children and you bless them by unlocking their wonderful imaginations. Steve Bochco: the world’s best TV crime writer - Hill Street Blues and Murder One are ageless classics. W B Yeats: ‘The Second Coming’ still sends shivers down my spine.
Size : 111 x 181mm
Pages : 512
Published : 29 May 2008
Publisher : Penguin
Related email updates
To keep up-to-date, input your email address, and we will contact you on publication or when the author releases another book.
Please alert me via email when: