Toronto author and filmmaker Peter Vronsky has written several books on serial killers, and in the introduction to his latest on the subject, Sons of Cain: A History of Serial Killers From the Stone Age To the Present, he explains how it all got started.
In 1979 a 23-year-old Vronsky literally bumped into Richard Francis Cottingham, the “Times Square Torso Ripper,” in the lobby of a hotel in New York City where they were both staying. As The Ripper walked past him, a cloth bag he was carrying bonked into Vronsky, with what he thought might be bowling balls inside. In fact, they were the heads of two of his victims.
It’s a wonderfully macabre anecdote and it sets the tone for the rest of the book. Sons of Cain covers a lot of ground in an informative, entertaining and at times idiosyncratic take on serial killers that expands on the coverage provided in Vronsky’s previous books Serial Killers: The Method and Madness of Monsters and Female Serial Killers: How and Why Women Become Monsters.