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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
The Zodiac Revisited, Volume 1: The Facts of the Case is a nonfiction, true crime book written by Michael F. Cole. The story of the Zodiac Killer is an exceptional one in the pantheon of serial killers. His saga is a mystery that remains unsolved five decades after he first appeared and continued to slaughter innocents, taunt the authorities, and share personal details with the press and the public alike. He first appeared on the scene in December 1968, and, in the ten months following, had launched attacks four times, leaving five victims dead and two others, who were left for dead, surviving grievous injuries. He continued to dominate the news cycles; however, through 1974, and, while authorities considered his death toll to be those five victims, the Zodiac claimed that he had dispatched 37 unlucky souls who had met him under unfortunate circumstances. Cole’s work focuses on what he terms “Pillars of Principal Importance” in his investigation into the Zodiac Killer: the crimes committed; the letters sent by the Zodiac killer to the press and the authorities, over 20 letters in all; and the journalistic efforts of the Chronicle, the Examiner and the Vallejo Times-Herald in reporting the crimes and their interactions with the Zodiac.
Michael F. Cole’s The Zodiac Revisited is a compelling and well-written story charting the odyssey of one of America’s most enduring mysteries -- the Zodiac killer and the hold he had on the Bay Area for years. Cole brings the reader in close focus to each of the attacks, making them privy to details made public as well as those kept quiet to help the authorities discount fakes and copy cats during their investigations. His accounts of eye-witnesses and the surviving victims are fascinating and helped me understand more about this shadowy killer who terrorized the country and seemed oddly dependent upon the authorities and the press as he continued his rampages. Likewise, Cole’s coverage of the ciphers the Zodiac sent and the efforts made by authorities and cryptologists alike to decipher them is fascinating. I appreciated the endnotes and images of victims, locations and the notes the Zodiac sent, which all provide the reader with the opportunity to consider the evidence and perhaps do a bit of armchair sleuthing. The Zodiac Revisited is a well-organized and brilliantly presented work. It’s highly recommended.