In late 1896, three men go missing in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney.
Each man has answered a newspaper advertisement posted by charismatic conman and notorious criminal, Frank Butler (one of his many aliases). Lured to the western goldfields by stories of the untold wealth that awaits them, the men find themselves at the mercy of the psychopathic Butler in some of Australia’s most isolated and inhospitable terrain.
Motivated by the thrill of killing and by a sick pleasure in outwitting his trusting victims, Butler makes his prey dig their own graves before he shoots them in the back of the head, buries them, and steals their few meagre possessions.
After an exhaustive search of the rugged mountains near Glenbrook, police discover the bodies of the victims. In a criminal investigation that would become legendary, police are led on an international manhunt as Butler uses a Master’s ticket from one of his victim to secure a berth on the steamer, the Swanhilda, headed for San Francisco.
Following a dramatic arrest at gunpoint, Butler is returned to Sydney, found guilty, and hanged at Darlinghurst Gaol, having
confessed to those three murders – and alluded to many more. This compelling account of a cold and calculating killer is told in a gripping historical narrative that brings Australia’s Gold Rush period vividly to life.
The first part of the book carefully examines the research past and present regarding clinical, psychological, societal, and biological bases for violent behavior, specific to the serial murderer. Part two establishes a novel theory of the pattern of violence and then explores this hypothesis through eight case studies, interviews with serial killers, and elemental analysis. The work also contains a chapter based on conversations between the author and a convicted serial murderer.