Friday, August 21, 2020

The Last Book On The Left

The Last Book On The Left by Ben Kissel, Marcus Parks, Henry Zebrowski
Release Date - April 7, 2020
Publisher Website - Raincoast Books
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 304 pages
My Rating - 3.5/5
**borrowed from library**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis

An equal parts haunting and hilarious deep-dive review of history’s most notorious and cold-blooded serial killers, from the creators of the award-winning Last Podcast on the Left

Since its first show in 2010, The Last Podcast on the Left has barreled headlong into all things horror, as hosts Henry Zebrowski, Ben Kissel, and Marcus Parks cover subjects spanning Jeffrey Dahmer, werewolves, Jonestown, and supernatural phenomena. Deeply researched but with a morbidly humorous bent, the podcast has earned a dedicated and aptly cultlike following for its unique take on all things macabre.

In their first book, the guys take a deep dive into history’s most infamous serial killers, from Ted Bundy to John Wayne Gacy, exploring their origin stories, haunting habits, and perverse predilections. Featuring newly developed content alongside updated fan favorites, each profile is an exhaustive examination of the darker side of human existence. With appropriately creepy four-color illustrations throughout and a gift-worthy paper over board format, The Last Book on the Left will satisfy the bloodlust of readers everywhere. 
I am not someone who has listened to every single episode of The Last Podcast On The Left. I download an episode when the subject being covered interests me and when I want a good, well researched deep dive into that subject. I appreciate what the podcast does and understand why it would have the following it does. 

I was interested in their book the instant I heard it was being written. I like the dynamic of the show and how each of the hosts adds something different that ultimately makes the podcast what it is. I was curious if that could be translated into book form the same way that I felt the My Favorite Murder hosts captured their dynamic and voice so well when writing their book. The answer to that question is yes and no. It mostly feels like the podcast, but some of the elements do not translate as well as I wanted them to.

The book is broken up into chapters that each focus on a different serial killer. Most of them are what the trio refer to as 'heavy hitters'. They are the serial killers that even those with no interest in true crime have heard about. You've got Ted Bundy Jeffrey Dahmer and John Wayne Gacy just to name a few. There were a few that I had not heard of before, but I figure others definitely have. This is a double edged sword because it will drive interest in the book but also puts pressure to deliver it a unique or interesting way.

This book is written in such a manner that it makes it a quick read. Filled with illustrations, and quips the chapters fly by. This gives you a surprisingly in depth, but compressed, look at each of the killers featured. It goes deeper than surface level, but still retains a fast paced feel. It's perfect for those who may find an entire book on one subject to be too much but they still want more than just a summery.. 

Marcus typically does a large part of the research for the podcast and he did most of it here as well, along with most of the writing. The book is meticulously researched and structured. It has a natural flow to it and you can tell care and effort was put into the content. Henry and Ben provide the comic relief (which is the same as what happens on the podcast). The humour (mostly) works but there are times that it falls a little flat. It doesn't translate as well as it does on the podcast. The humour is part of what makes the podcast what it is so for it not to land the same way stood out for me the way it might not for other people.

The dark sense of humour that the podcast is known for is on full display within this book. If you have never heard an episode of the podcast I would recommend becoming a little familiar before picking up the book. This book (and the podcast) will not be for everyone so be sure to do your research before picking it up.

Tom Neely's illustrations highlight the dark humour the podcast is known for. The illustrations are incredible and add something extra to the book. It certainly would not read the same without them. The art style is eye catching and you can see the hard work that went into them.

Do I think fans of the podcast will enjoy this? Absolutely. Is it a perfect translation of their voice from podcast to book format? Almost. It's a well researched and (mostly) well delivered true crime read that will mostly be a hit with fans of the podcast. 

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