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Book Review: Murderabilia by Carl Vonderau

What I have been loving about Advance Reader Copies is that I am actually reading authors I wouldn’t normally pick – or even know about and uncovering some real gems! This week I’ve been reading a twisted tale by Carl Vonderau.

It’s available for preorder NOW on Amazon – with a release date of 8th July 2019.

Murderabilia by Carl Vonderau

Genre: Thriller, Mystery & Suspense

BUG Rating: 4/5

Overall: The story follows William McNary, son of the country’s most famous serial killer, as he is forced to relive a past he thought he had put far behind him, as he tries to prove his innocence in a copy cat murder, featuring the MO of ‘The Praying Hands’ serial killer – his father. This is literally the book of your nightmares, from the descriptions of The Praying Hands previous murder set ups – his victims killed, dismembered and artistically positioned in black and white photographs for the world to admire, to the darkest tales from a past no child should have to suffer. If you want a page turner that will keep you up at night, look no further – Carl Vonderau did a truly awesome job with this gritty, dark and haunting novel!

I think owning something created by a killer empowers people. They want to feel their own darkness without unleashing it.


The son of a serial killer must reconcile with his own dark past and stop a new string of murders.

William McNary was eight years old when his father went to prison. Since then, he’s carefully built a life as a family man and a private banker for the wealthy. He tries to forget that his father dismembered and photographed thirteen women. And he tries to forget those exquisitely composed photos of severed hands, heads, and feet that launched the “murderabilia” art market.

William has not spoken to his father for thirty-one years. No one at his Tony  Bank knows whose son he is. Not until his wife’s colleague is murdered and carved up in the same way his father would have done it.

All the evidence points to William. And only one person can understand the copycat killer–the monster William hasn’t seen since he was a child.

Murderabilia actually tells several stories in one. It focuses on the life of William McNary, the son of a notorious serial killer, Harvey Dean Kogan. 

William, his sister and mother all managed to escape a small town outside of Chicago, Illinois after the atrocities his father committed were revealed to the world. They relocated to San Diego, changed their names and thought the past was behind them. 

Until one day, William is being taunted by someone who knows who he really is. Before long, William, a well respected banker, is being charged for murder. A murder that resembles his father’s MO and set up. 

The book follows William as we uncover what really happened and who’s behind these new string of murders, 30 years after Harvey Dean Kogan was arrested. 

I found this book fascinating. I loved the dark and twisted MO Carl came up with for Harvey Dean Kogan – ‘The Praying Hands’. The descriptions of what this sadistic killer did to create his ‘art work’ were breath taking and truly gruesome. 

The book has just the right amount of characters so not to get too lost. I managed to build a rapport with all of them! The main character, William, was a personality I enjoyed coming to understand –  a father that will go to any lengths to protect his children, and is totally haunted by his past. Who wouldn’t be!

We also dived into the mind of Harvey Dean Kogan himself, victim of horrendous childhood abuse, dark souled, and just plain twisted, but still holds some hope and love for his family.

Carl also gave us a great supporting cast, which included his sister, Polly, hard faced, and strong and slightly irrational. His Mama, God serving and complex. Jill, his wife, strong and independent. His children, Frieda and Garth, both fearless and spirited. And finally, I even loved the ‘dodgy’ detectives Lund and Hempel and his fierce attorney, Martha.

It’s difficult to go into too much detail, without giving out spoilers. The sequence of events are so cleverly crafted to lead you down all sorts of paths, you think you have the plot sussed out and then all of a sudden BAM, the killer has been revealed, maybe a bit too suddenly. I did feel the ending of the book wrapped up rather quickly – but incredibly intensely! I was literally on the edge of my seat, goosebumps and all, waiting to find out what was going to happen. 

A huge congratulations to Carl Vonderau who’s epic book really kept me up at night!

I received a free advanced copy of this book from NetGalley / Midnight Ink in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. All opinions are my own. 

  • Carl Vonderau
    April 1, 2019 at 5:52 pm

    I just discovered your review. I’m so glad you enjoyed the book. Love the summary and images you put together. I also found it fascinating to explore the very diffiucult lives of the children of serial killers. Lives full of secrets and guilt.

    • bookedupgirl
      April 1, 2019 at 5:55 pm

      Thanks for the comment Carl, you did a great job, and hope to read something new from you soon??

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