In a tree-lined community near Seattle, young women were drawn to George Russel Jr.. They crowned him "cool", trusted him and took him to their hearts. And why not? An articulate young African American, he was a cheerful companion, flashy dancer, and urban sophisticate. He had good looks, professional parents, rich friends, a beguiling style and smile. George was a local favorite. Then, bodies started turning up - in a night club parking lot, in a quiet, out-of-the-way house, and in a tastefully decorated apartment. The victims, attractive young females, had been bludgeoned to death, violated sexually, then outrageously posed like gallery sculptures. Seasoned investigators were sickened by the cold brutality. A prosecutor described the bodies as "the killer's collected works of art." No one suspected George Russell. He offered the police helpful clues and even fingered a pal. When frustrated detectives ran out of leads, they came close to giving up the case. In this riveting examination into the mind and life of a vicious killer and his deceptively charming persona, Jack Olsen tracks Russell's thirty-year psychological decline, which culminated in a shocking killing spree. Charmer is a thrilling and tragic story of a murderer and his victims.
Olsen (Son) has established himself so firmly near the pinnacle of true-crime writers that anything from him not a masterwork is somewhat of a disappointment. That is the case with this story of a young African American from a posh Seattle suburb. George Russell Jr., highly intelligent, supremely articulate and supposedly the son of professionals, became a serial killer who mutilated his victims. His story is told largely through transcripts of interviews with police officers, bar personnel and the far younger women he hung around with (at 28, he enjoyed the company of girls of 13 and 14). Beneath his charm, however, lay a pathological hatred of women, so it is not surprising that his career in crime, which began with petty theft and advanced to cat burglary, climaxed with the murders of three females. The book's strength is its lesson that diligent police work can indeed produce results. Russell is now serving a life term. Author tour.