Books: Fatal Swath

IN A CHILD'S NAME by Peter Maas

Simon & Schuster

378 pages; $19.95

Like moths around candles, a number of gifted writers have been dazzled by that subspecies of Homo americanus, the murdering sociopath. Witness Truman Capote's In Cold Blood and Joe McGinniss's Fatal Vision. Or this well-crafted account of the fatal swath cut by an Indiana-born dentist named Kenneth Z. Taylor.

The women who fell for Taylor were, to put it mildly, unlucky in love. He abandoned his first wife when she was nine months pregnant and tried unsuccessfully to chloroform his second to death. Taylor brutally assaulted his third...

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