Books: Victims

"SON" by Jack Olsen

Atheneum; 434 pages; $17.95

The retelling of atrocious crimes has produced a genre almost as pernicious as the criminals. Typically, the malefactor is made-into a symbol of his surroundings: his private ailments are seen as social ills, his wrongdoings merely the carrying out of humanity's dark impulses. In his psychobiography, the victims become only walk-ons, subordinated to a drama in which everyone is somehow responsible and therefore no one is truly guilty.

Jack Olsen will have none of this. In "Son " he is relentlessly out to study the evildoer...

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