Christina Giscombe reviews SLAUGHTER

This is a blockbuster of a book covering:

  • Adam Lanza (Sandy Hook)
  • Stephen Paddock (Life is Beautiful Concert, Las Vegas)
  • Tsarnaev brothers (Boston Marathon Bombings)
  • Seung-Hui Cho (Virginia Tech)
  • Nikolas Cruz (Parkland, Florida)
  • James Holmes (‘Dark Knight Rises’, Aurora movie theatre, Colorado)
  • Matti Saari (Kauhajoki College, Finland)
  • Beslan school siege, Chechnya


There is also a detailed reference to John Hinckley Jr, would-be assassin of Ronald Reagan in Washington DC, as an example of the use of the ‘insanity’ plea, which James Holmes attempted to emulate by acting ‘crazy’ in court at his trial, with his bright orange hair and faux staring eyes.

nikolas-cruz-mug-shot-credit-broward-sheriff-office-and-instagram-v1We tend to look at these killers as monsters.  The callous disregard and lack of empathy for their victims makes our blood run cold.  The sadism and cruelty involved in the senseless slaughter of innocent concert-goers, high school pupils or cinema goers is incomprehensible to us.

The Columbine killers, Klebold and Harris, not content with planting over 99 bombs, lay in wait for their prey to come running out of the school doors so they could shoot down the fleeing teenagers as they believed they were escaping.  This shows a sang-froid, in that there is an element of deliberate torture rather than a straightforward ‘revenge for all the bullying’.

The Columbine killings happened eighteen years ago, amongst the first high school massacres of modern times, yet still it provides a blueprint for copycat killers today, the most recent being Nikolas Cruz in Florida.  What is it about Columbine that leads to this phenomenon?

Nick Van der Leek gets under the skin of what this is all about, behind the lurid headlines.  Police psychologists at the time claimed it was not possible to draw up a profile of a high school killers from the Columbine incident.  However, many mass murders and school massacres later, Van der Leek would dispute this view, as his intricate analysis of each event, his thorough examination of the psychological, philosophical and moral issues involved, has enabled him to formulate a clear profile.  He sets out a conclusion of what each of the killers has in common with the others.

The author identifies several common factors, which includes the Freudian concept of anal fixation which holds that a person whose development is arrested at this early unconscious level will be obsessed with detail, routine and accuracy to a near unreasonable degree.

There isn’t any psychoanalysis involved in the book, but the term ‘anal’ is a useful shorthand description by Nick of the salient personality trait.  Another is high anxiety levels.  Social anxiety can be particularly acute in adolescence, when rejection by one’s peers can tip an already fragile teen over the edge.  As a society, we have winners, so there are ipso facto ‘losers’.  Van der Leek shows how being a ‘loser’ as all of his examples are, militates as a simmering resentment in the sufferer, like a steaming pressure cooker about to blow its lid,  culminating in a murderous desire to wreak revenge on the perceived popular, successful, happy peers, who are blamed in the loser’s mind for the loser’s ‘reject’ status.


Stephen Paddock in Vegas.

Whilst Van der Leek rejects a genetic factor – Lanza’s features seem to show a congenital problem and Stephen Paddock had a sociopathic ‘most wanted’ bank robber father – seeing this as the easy explanation, instead he tries to pinpoint why each of the most notorious killers has such an apparent lack of humanity. Where does it come from, this cool regard for others as objects that can be picked off like sitting ducks, like a swarm of ants going about their busy lives that can be extinguished with just one stamp of the foot, as it were.  From whence does this cruel brutality emanate?

Van der Leek can supply some answers to these questions by looking at the common memes, the symbology, the ‘manifestos’, stories, videos, texts, social media and wargaming software of the virtual world of outgunning your adversaries online and how the lines blur between fantasy and reality.

We meet Lanza’s dysfunctional mother (whom he shot dead first, before advancing onto the elementary school in Connecticut to commit one of the worst school shootings known).  There is the surreal casino world of the ever-disintegrating inner life of Paddock, who picked off 53 concertgoers from a hotel window in Chicago.


The pious but feral Tsarnaev brothers and their amazing police chase and shoot-out across Boston, a few days after the bombings.  Cho, Cruz and Saari are all shooters considered weird by their contemporaries, and we examine their cowardice, their adolescent quasi-Nietzschean nihilism, through their manifestos, contacts with extreme ideologies and their professed sense of alienation from their fellows.


There is the wealthy Holmes and Hinckley and how their parents try to buy their killer offspring off their murder raps (or attempted murder in Hinckley’s case).  This is underscored by the appalling tragedy of Beslan where hundreds of young children were killed all for the sake of ideological and political terrorism.  Yet, for all the claimed high-mindedness of the hostage takers, Van der Leek identifies the same type of anal-sadism driving the cruel brutal behaviour towards fellow human beings, especially women and children who are innocent civilians in all this.

This book is unique, as I am not aware of another book that has gone into so much depth, outside of the Manson killings or Columbine ones.  If you want to know what makes these ‘monsters’ tick and understand the profile of what personality traits they are most likely to exhibit before they commit their atrocities, or even if you just want a jolly good ‘true crime’ read, this is the perfect interactive Kindle publication for you.

Slaughter can purchased on Amazon at this link.



9 thoughts on “Christina Giscombe reviews SLAUGHTER

  1. Hello! Can you please show me where I might find ANY credible evidence of Paddock actually COMMITTING the atrocities he has been accused of ? .. ‘Congenital Problem’..? HUH? The Vegas story is not the least bit hinky? Appears author is trying to fill pages in his book, no? Does Paddock ‘fit nicely’ here within? Is that it? sigh : (


  2. Where to begin. He bought the weapons, checked into the room, was seen in security footage checking into the room at the time of the shooting, was found dead in the room… What’s more, he was well-known as a professional gambler, and the shooting occurred, idiosyncratically in a casino. Did someone else commit the crime? If so, who?


    • Sure, how about if we ‘begin’ with ANY EVIDENCE AT ALL that he actually SHOT someone in Vegas, lol ? … ‘Professional gambler’?? You mean ‘professional poker machine player’ millionaire? How many of those you reckon there are in the world you think? Oh, wait, just ONE Paddock right? Nothing hinky here at all … moving along, lol!


  3. Well there’s no evidence that links Scott Peterson to Laci Peterson’s death, except a single hair in a needle-nosed pliers. What’s your evidence that Paddock didn’t commit the crime?


    • Again, totally different stories … Asking me for ‘evidence’ ? .. Shouldn’t we be asking LE for ‘evidence’? How about asking LE for evidence that Paddock committed this crime as opposed to just showing his dead body? … thanks!


  4. So your theory that Paddock didn’t do it isn’t based on stronger evidence that someone else did it, just a vague sense that you’re not sure what happened here, so he must have been framed. The point of the book I wrote was to show how abundantly obvious the motives are for these shooters, and that’s precisely why these conspiracies come about. People can’t fathom a motive, so they make the shooter disappear and come up with a vague conspiracy that seems to fill the motive vacuum better. If there’s no evidence that Paddock was involved, there’s even less evidence that some mysterious other non-entity was involved.


  5. The high speed stock Paddock set up tallies with the high volume/velocity of the actual shots. In addition, simple geometry and physics show exactly which direction the shots came from, which coincides with Paddock’s barricaded room, wherein he was armed up to the gills, and as verified by Mr Campos who got a bullet in the thigh through the door, before the killing spree even started.

    I would guess you are a relative or friend of Paddock…?

    There won’t be anything to inherit, as all his estate will go in compensation to his victims.


    • ‘Assume’ you are speaking to me krissyg1? … I hope you are not as I lost a loved one here so, ‘no’ my only ‘agenda’ here is truth behind this. Thanks for your ‘victim concern(s)’ tho. I will pass on your ‘heartfelt vexation…


  6. If your agenda is truth, you’re not trying very hard to find it. You find truth by being curious, asking questions and trying to answer them, listening, researching, reading and talking as much as you can on a particular subject and being open, not having a brittle, closed-minded, bitter, reactionary approach to those ideas that don’t fit in with yours.
    When someone spends far more time working on a particular idea, it might make sense to simply be open to what they may say. Then, having heard it, you can say – wow, I hadn’t considered that or, that doesn’t quite add up to me.

    Let me just say, this post is a review of a book. It’s meant as an advert for those interested in the subject matter. It’s meant to promote the fact that a lot of work went into finding very hard to get information. It’s priced at $9.99 because it spans 522 pages. It was a lot of work to research, let alone write, and the nature of a mass shooter crime and crime scene is infinitely more difficult and complex than any analysis of one criminal, and one crime scene. So this was a motherfucker to write.

    I find it particularly distasteful that you come along, you haven’t read the book, you aren’t interested in the book, but you’ve made up your mind about one area of a book you haven’t read. That’s great, this isn’t for you. But it may be good for other curious-minded folk. Really, there is such a thing as manners. Your observations have been noted, I came across this stuff while researching Vegas. The more interesting question is if the conspiracy theory is that, why is it happening? Why would Americans or a foreign power want other Americans to lose faith in America, and in law enforcement? And answer is obvious, to advance themselves.

    There are also conspiracy theories in the vacuum of why surrounding the Sandy Hook massacre, the Aurora shootings and the Boston Bombings.

    I find it heartbreaking and tragic that in the deadliest shooting in American history, there are people like you who “don’t know” who was responsible. They don’t know who and they don’t know why, and it seems like they don’t want to know either. This “knowledge” is almost entirely based on social media. As a result, I expect these mass shootings to continue. They’re sending a macabre message. So many people just don’t get it, and don’t want to get it. And so it goes on.


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