Book Review

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 7, 2004

By LEONARD GRAY – Staff Reviewer

BATON ROUGE – One of the best ideas used in the writing of “The Night Runner: The Desperate Hunt for a Serial Rapist in Louisiana,” is the author’s skill in getting inside the criminal mind.

One real puzzle in the book is why Lt. Karl Kretser bothered to disguise the setting of the book, as many Louisiana readers will quickly recognize the setting, near Baton Rouge.

The format is different for this type of true-crime book, taking the reader inside the mind of the accused rapist as he plans his crime, then to the incident itself, taking creative license to following the thoughts of those families involved, then the aftermath.

The book is instructive to those who are fascinated with criminal detection, seeing how various techniques are used, the thought processes of the detective, the treatment of victims and how this particular case ended with the arrest of the prime suspect.

However, the suspect entered a guilty plea and accepted a sentence, rather than face a jury trial. While not satisfying the readers, anxious to see justice done, we are instead left frustrated.

A welcome addition would have been an appendix, outlining the counseling and victims rights services available to victims of sex crimes.

The writing itself is simple, indeed, almost lurid. His self-description will produce a smile or two, as quoted here:

“To the ladies on the street he is that perennial jogger, darting past their living room windows or flower beds in his Marine Corps red T-shirt and sweaty gray jogging shorts, forever keeping his 36-inch waist intact while their own husbands doze on the couch.”

The next paragraph continues the self-description:

“But on the job, he is a different animal. Heavy of hand and tuned of ear, he is ever alert for the clues and evidence that are the mainstay of his professional diet. His senses are highly attuned to the criminal mind, seeking out the lies in their beady eyes, there forked tongues, their trembling, dirty hands.”

However, smiles are gone, once the reader is past the introduction and the reader is immersed in the twisted mind of a twisted individual.

Motivation is never really suggested as to why the suspect launches his months-long attack on the feminine gender. The crimes are terrifying enough.