His Garden: Conversations with a Serial Killer - Book Review

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Book Review of :  His Garden: Conversations with a Serial Killer


His Garden: Confessions of a serial killer by Anne K. Howard is a startling account of her intimate talks and correspondence with serial killer, William Devin Howell.  Like most serial killers, William Devin Howell seemed like a very normal young man who was a hard-working, landscaper; Howard writes, “In many levels, he could not be more normal. In our face-to-face interactions, he presents as the kind of guy I would hire to do landscaping.”  In fact, one of his previous employers thought “Bill” as most called him, was “Very polite, very personable, did diligent work,” and so trusted that she rode with him to Home Depot to purchase shrubs for her yard. The vehicle she was riding in was the van Bill had used in his killing of seven people.

Howard depicts an entity she describes as the monster that takes over Bill before each killing which reminded me of David Lynch’s character “Leland Palmer,” who is taunted into killing by an entity named, “BOB.”  Bill had told the police that a monster inhabited him and also tried to explain to Howard his state of mind while killing as feeling like being in a movie and just playing a part, but unfortunately for the victims, it was real life. Another serial killer, Edmund Kemper, made similar claims, he said two beings inhabited his body and that when the killer personality took over, it was "kind of like blacking out.”

Howell took about three years of research in writing her book; a period-of-time that she also faced the real possibility of losing her husband to cancer. Her perseverance eventually won over Bill’s trust allowing her to uncover much of the jarringly frightening details of his multiple murders.  She writes about the devastation that Howell’s murders had on the loved ones of the victims. She tells how the impact of the murders even triggered suicide.  The seven victims he directly killed were: Melanie Camilini, Marilyn Gonzalez, Danny Whistnant, Nilsa Arizmendi, Mary Jane Menard, Diane Cusack, Joyvaline Martinez. Howell’s murder spree went on for nine months with his first victim reported missing on New Years of 2003. The carnage ended on a Friday the 13th when he was arrested and held with a judge setting his bail at  2.5 million dollars. His days of cruising the streets, picking up prostitutes and killing them were over. Connecticut’s most prolific serial killer had been stopped but for Anne K. Howard, it was just the beginning - she wanted to get into the mind of the killer, to understand how and why he did these horrible things. She wanted to find out if he felt remorse for the rapes and murders he committed. She would discover what it was like looking into the eyes of a killer; the same eyes that watched his seven victims slowly die as he strangled them.  Howell is quoted as saying, “If I were man enough to kill them, I should be man enough to look them in the eye while I did it.”

Convincing… The author painstakingly pieces together years worth of personal research and interviews with family, friends and law enforcement, and oddly enough the words of the actual murderer.  His Garden: Confessions of a serial killer is packed with fascinating details from Howell’s many murders. A vivid and meticulous investigation of a twisted predator who terrorized Connecticut for nearly a year by a writer who became consumed by her gruesome subject.

About Anne Howard


Anne K. Howard is a graduate of McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, and University of Cincinnati, College of Law. A practicing attorney, she plows through large volumes of legal affidavits, police interviews, trial transcripts, and interviews with victims families and weaves that material into a page-turning story.

Visit http://rte8murders.blogspot.com/ for more information on Anne Howard


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