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  • American Predator

  • The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21st Century
  • Written by: Maureen Callahan
  • Narrated by: Amy Landon
  • Length: 9 hrs and 3 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (181 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Instant New York Times Best Seller
An Amazon “Best Book of 2019”

Washington Post "10 Books to Read in July"
A Los Angeles Times “Seven Highly Anticipated Books for Summer Reading”
A USA Today “20 of the Season’s Hottest New Books”
A New York Post “25 Best Beach Reads of 2019 You Need to Pre-Order Now”  

"Maureen Callahan's deft reporting and stylish writing have created one of the all-time-great serial-killer books: sensitive, chilling, and completely impossible to put down." (Ada Calhoun, author of St. Marks Is Dead)

Ted Bundy. John Wayne Gacy. Jeffrey Dahmer. The names of notorious serial killers are usually well-known; they echo in the news and in public consciousness. But most people have never heard of Israel Keyes, one of the most ambitious and terrifying serial killers in modern history. The FBI considered his behavior unprecedented. Described by a prosecutor as "a force of pure evil", Keyes was a predator who struck all over the United States. He buried "kill kits" - cash, weapons, and body-disposal tools - in remote locations across the country. Over the course of 14 years, Keyes would fly to a city, rent a car, and drive thousands of miles in order to use his kits. He would break into a stranger's house, abduct his victims in broad daylight, and kill and dispose of them in mere hours. And then he would return home to Alaska, resuming life as a quiet, reliable construction worker devoted to his only daughter. 

When journalist Maureen Callahan first heard about Israel Keyes in 2012, she was captivated by how a killer of this magnitude could go undetected by law enforcement for over a decade. And so began a project that consumed her for the next several years - uncovering the true story behind how the FBI ultimately caught Israel Keyes, and trying to understand what it means for a killer like Keyes to exist. A killer who left a path of monstrous, randomly committed crimes in his wake - many of which remain unsolved to this day. 

American Predator is the ambitious culmination of years of interviews with key figures in law enforcement and in Keyes's life, and research uncovered from classified FBI files. Callahan takes us on a journey into the chilling, nightmarish mind of a relentless killer, and to the limitations of traditional law enforcement.

©2019 Maureen Callahan (P)2019 Penguin Audio

What the critics say

“A deep dive into the twisted life of Israel Keyes, ‘a new kind of monster’.... Serial killers often commit their crimes close to home, inside a comfort zone, but as the author documents throughout this compelling narrative, little about Keyes fit the conventional serial-killer mold...[Callahan] offers fascinating context about law enforcement investigative techniques and revelations about how a murderer can strike again and again without being detected for more than a decade.” (Kirkus Reviews)

American Predator is the scariest book I’ve ever read. No exaggeration - the book you hold is bone-chilling. Maureen Callahan explores the black heart of a new kind of American monster - a serial killer that confounded our most elite criminal profilers - and the race-against-time investigation to follow. This is the work of a journalist in her prime, telling you the story the FBI doesn’t want you to hear and delivering an unforgettable tale of evil that will haunt you. Mark my words: This modern true crime classic will stand with the likes of Jeff Guinn’s Manson, Ann Rule’s The Stranger Beside Me, and Michelle McNamara’s I’ll Be Gone in the Dark.” (Susannah Cahalan, New York Times best-selling author of Brain on Fire)

“Investigative journalist Callahan provides a chilling true-crime narrative in this detailed study of Israel Keyes, whom she describes as ‘a new kind of monster, likely responsible for the greatest string of unsolved disappearances and murders in modern American history.’... Through Callahan’s access to many of the key players in law enforcement, she has produced the definitive account of a terrifying psychopath.” (Publishers Weekly

What listeners say about American Predator

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Forced to Stop Listening

I really wanted to like this book. However, just a little way in, I had to stop because the awful fake parodies of male voices by this female reader render it impossible to continue. Given the seriousness of the subject matter, I cannot understand why the performer and sound engineers/director made this abysmal choice. It completely ruins the narration.

18 people found this helpful

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Hard to listen to

The voice turned me off the story. I had a very hard time getting into it as the readers voice was too fake and monotone.

8 people found this helpful

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Engaging book with awkward voice performance

The story is excellent and engaging. It's clearly well researched and is presented in an interesting and easy to follow manner. The only issue I had was with the voice performance, it sounded robotic and the impressions were mocking. Overall it's a great experience and I highly recommend it.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Max
  • 2020-05-01

Fascinating story

The story of Israel Keyes is horrifying and I was really looking forward to learning more from this book.
However, the narration was terrible. At times I wondered if it was computer generated.
On top of that the way she did male voices was irritating and all sounded the same. It was extremely distracting and I wish I had read the hard copy of the book instead.

5 people found this helpful

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Great Book! Couldn't put it down!!!!

The content of the book makes up for the poor narration of the book, which came across as robotic.

4 people found this helpful

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Should have just bought the book

You know what really helps emphasize the terror and suspense of this story!?? Goofy voices.....
Seriously. Had to stop listening because Amy Landon's narrating was so annoying. Only got to chapter 10 :(
The story itself is fascinating though!! Will definitely order the book so I can finish it.

4 people found this helpful

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Great

I listened to this book every chance I got. It was so well made and kept me interested until the very end

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  • Kc
  • 2021-10-03

Good content, terrible narration

I find Israel Keyes very fascinating so I enjoyed this book but the narrator was really awful and it took away from the book.

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That Narrator.. Stick to the Text Version

Maureen Callahan's exposé on a relatively unknown serial killer is excellent. She employs a little too much artistic license (putting hypothetical thoughts into the heads of victims and investigators, for example), but she uses police reports, interviews, and court transcripts to faithfully document a complicated nationwide hunt for a genuine monster. Israel Keyes was a unique sociopath - breaking all kinds of FBI profiling patterns (e.g. hunting far from home). Callahan chronicles a remarkable "good guys eventually win" story.
The balance between giving examples of investigator dedication, demonstrating the twists & turns of considering and clearing suspects, relating legal proceedings, and vividly describing chilling crimes is commendable in 'American Predator'. This is a well-crafted, well-written True Crime book.

The narration from Amy Landon isn't horrible - until she tries to read male voices. True, her overall reading cadence is robotic, but it's corrected somewhat with playback increased to 1.15X. Her tone is suitably serious and her apparent level of interest is actually quite good..
*deep breath*
..and then she reads male voices.. It sounds like she's intentionally doing a cartoonish husky impression of a man to make her friends laugh. As many readers have commented, Penguin Audio needs to consider whether it's even worth it to employ her - Landon either needs to narrate books with an all-female dramatis personae, or find another job.

This would be an 8/10 book - but for the brutal narration. As it stands, it's worth 5 stars out of 10. You're not crazy to spend a Credit on it if you're looking for an overall average-quality audiobook.. but if you're into reading a very good True Crime novel focussed on the nuts & bolts of investigation (gathering evidence; conducting interviews; etc.), buy the paper copy.

[Incidentally: The last chapter documents the amount of work Callahan had to do to get the information to write this book - obtaining court permission to conduct interviews, FOIA requests, etc. It's mindblowing. There is a stink of cover-up and ass-covering in this case that leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Be aware you might lose some respect for Law Enforcement after reading this book]

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wow

I was enthralled. Great book, never boring. Kept me needing to know more. Suggested read.

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  • jofi00
  • 2019-10-23

Why you shouldn’t listen to Reviews

This read is exactly why you have to judge things for yourself & not depend totally on reviews. I almost didn’t buy this from all the “man voice” comments. The reader of this book is so awesome until I have to wonder if people are actually listening to the book or if they’re reading the reviews and simply commenting in kind.
Landon makes this book unputdownable. Please see for yourself. You can barely differentiate between her “man” voice and her narrative woman’s voice. There is only a slight lowering of the voice to show changes btw speakers. Had she not done that it would have been difficult to keep up if you multitask, like me, while listening to books and get distracted for a moment or two. Please LISTEN FOR YOURSELF!

257 people found this helpful

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  • P'an
  • 2019-07-04

A personal plea...

Please, please, for the love of all that is good in this world, Ms Amy Landon, in any future audiobooks you record, PLEASE -- stop doing your "man voice." This would be a fine example of a better-than-average true crime book about a subject that has long needed a comprehensive storyline like this, but oh my gawd. This would be an example of a slightly poorer-than-average narration: robotic, upspeak-ridden, but generally forgivable. But the man voice. Lord almighty, the man voice. This is a book about a man. Most of the investigators are men. There is nothing wrong with a female narrator reading a female author's words from male characters' points of view. Until the reader in question starts putting on a deep, cartoony, buffoonish manspeak affectation for every male who speaks in the book. It's more than distracting. It was almost funny the first time..... this isn't a comedy book. It got unfunny really quickly. I really should have bought the Kindle version.

111 people found this helpful

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  • intric8
  • 2019-11-20

Alexa, Read American Predator

Ever wonder what it might be like to hear a crime thriller as read by Alexa? Wonder no more.

88 people found this helpful

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  • Hunter Harrell
  • 2019-07-19

Great story, below average Narrator

I loved this book and I highly recommend it. my only wish is that it had a better Narrator. This Narrator's mens voice impressions all sound exactly the same, so when she is reading conversations its confusing and sounds like the same man talking to himself. Most Narrator's will slightly adjust the tone or speech pattern, where as this one has 2 voices, a Male impression and her own voice. Like I said she wasn't horrible but that just bugged me. Overall great story and dibs to the author for getting us more details on Israel Keyes.

69 people found this helpful

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  • Kimberly
  • 2019-07-10

not my style, for 2 reasons

I enjoy True Crime nonfictions- I mostly enjoy how they get caught- the forensics, the work and luck that go into finding them and getting them to trial and the final justice- this book, other than the very beginning, provides neither. They start backwards from catching him and then we find out he is treated like a king, while incarcerated, in order to get information from him the investigators and prosecutors letting him call all the shots as he vividly describes the horrors of the murders- all the hour-by-hour terror the victims went through- then they go back to being enthralled by him as gives away more and more to the prosecutors- in the end, his demise is not justice but getting his own way..our system of doting on serial killers in order to find bodies and get local glory for the DA's is wrong-

68 people found this helpful

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  • Kyle
  • 2020-01-06

How did he slip by?

How is it possible that he is not talked about more among true crime enthusiasts? Being raised with constant changing religious views, the isolation of living on the outskirts of small Utah towns, Israel Keyes had not only an interesting upbringing but you can see the many signs that lead him to become the monster that he was. This book I have recommended to many people. If you are interested in true crime this is a must read.

61 people found this helpful

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  • Lydia
  • 2019-07-13

Great research, distracting narration

The “man voice” was distracting and unnecessary in what could have been a great telling of a thorough research job on Keyes. The narration made it very hard to focus on the story.

54 people found this helpful

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  • Sarah Moore
  • 2019-07-23

Narrator sounds like a robot.

it was difficult to pay attention to the text of the book because the narrator sounded like a robot

51 people found this helpful

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  • Zara
  • 2019-07-12

terrible narration

the story was interesting but the narration was way off. the "man voice" was insufferable.

46 people found this helpful

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  • JD
  • 2019-07-16

Scary, dark horrific monster tale, with some flaws

I'd never heard of the subject of this book (whose name I'd rather not further glorify). But clearly, he is one of the scariest and most evil people who's ever walked the earth. He doesn't fit the mold of what we've been told of most psychopaths or serial killers (a doting father who was concerned about the effects of his crimes on his daughter?). Truly chilling, and estimates of his victims are probably significantly understated (he said he was active for 14 years, almost nonstop, but a "mere" 11 victims? Seems unlikely). Honestly the kind of book that makes you want to buy an alarm system for your home. It also teaches you that compliance with violent criminals is a VERY questionable tactic. NEVER get in a car. Better to be shot running away than dragged off to God knows what! Fight, run, and yell! (and hopefully shoot or stab if you are armed).

Some flaws in the book. The narrator is insufferable with her cartoonish male voice. Considering that most of the figures in the book are male, and so much of the book is from actual transcripts, a male reader would have been more appropriate. But this female reader affected the same dumb male voice that almost seemed satirical and anti-male. It was a distraction. We are PAYING for this reading, so freaking do it well!

Also, it was just kind of weird how the book was sourced. I know it was unavoidable, but unlike some other true crime, this was mostly leaked and on background source material, with a definite point of view and axes to grind. I realize that since the investigating agencies were all pretty much non responsive, and you had detectives that couldn't be quoted in the first person (except for interview transcripts) for legal or career reasons, the author was limited in her approach. The transcripts were an interesting perspective; if only they read with a real male voices instead of the same dumb female male impersonator voice!

A nitpick, I could tell the author was a big city, probably liberal girl who'd never been around a gun or a firearms enthusiast or hunter in her life. She made it sound like the fact that the subject of the book was a gun enthusiast and hunter or someone who raised and killed his own livestock somehow selected him for being a serial killer, when 99.99% of gun owners and hunters and farmers are decent law abiding people. I'd imagine the average southern or rural reader will be rolling their eyes at some of the breathless implications Callahan makes about guns and hunting (I'm not a hunter, grew up in a big city, but even I laughed at this). Also her comments about Black Talon cartridges was a real howler. They're just hollow points, not "cop killer" or "mass shooter" bullets.

41 people found this helpful