Reviews of the Second Edition

Criminologist Anthony Meoli, author of Diary of the D.C. Sniper, was the first to review the Second Edition of The Making of a Serial Killer:

Ground-Breaking work: Amazing new slants to one of the rawest, most realistic, true crime accounts
London broke ground two decades ago when this book was first released. She had been ridiculed by the press and even treated unfairly (dare I say illegally) because what she faced has not been seen BEFORE or SINCE the first edition.

London, unapologetically, and rightfully so, brought to us a true crime book that is indeed not for everyone. If you do not like a well-researched book – this is not for you. If you do not like a first person account from the killer himself – this is not for you. If you do not like truly NEW information, a retrospective and thoughts about the case as she reflects on her intimate and revealed look into Danny's mind – this is not for you. If you do not want what I consider to be the rawest, most uniquely-styled, utterly comprehensive look into the Gainesville murders (and Louisiana as well) – this is not for you.

For those who are still reading this review, the newest version is the best. You get a different look, a more compact version, different original drawings are now included (while retaining some of Danny's more disturbing ones) and you get the explanation of what occurred to Ms. London.

Finally, we get a "reveal" to what I deem as the FIRST "Making of a Serial Killer" because it truly is NOVEL, not a novel, but NOVEL in its concept, how close she was to Danny Rolling mentally, physically, psychologically, and how all of this was needed to get the information contained herein.

This is a BARGAIN given all the work that went into it – never mind the legal battles over the first one. I thoroughly recommend this book, if over eighteen (as this is not for children) and for those who appreciate true crime and what it leaves behind.

London explains in thoughtful detail the loss of the five students and Grissom family, but in many ways she lost as well – becoming yet another victim. While in no way do I compare London's loss to the families of the victims, Sondra London should be applauded for this raw, uncut version – because these are Danny's words – and they are brutal – but they are real.

If you want a real look into Danny's mind, the most engaging, this is the ONLY book for the true story behind the five University of Florida student murders in 1990. Their memory lives on at 34th street, their names often repainted but never forgotten. London reminds us of this as well.

God Bless the souls of the five victims and the three members of the Grissom family...

When a Killer Speaks

by Kevin M. Sullivan
Author of The Bundy Murders: A Comprehensive History
On August 20, 1990, triple murderer Danny Rolling got off a bus in Gainesville, Florida, and while he had no enemies here, and did not hold a grudge against anyone in this small college town, he would, after four days, unleash his madness on five unsuspecting college kids preparing for their futures. And what he would do here was nothing short of diabolical.

And now, in The Making of a Serial Killer, Second Edition, you’ll read the chilling words of Danny Rolling himself, as told to journalist Sondra London.

Make no mistake about it, this is not an easy book to read. But at the same time, it’s a must-read for those attempting to understand what makes these monsters tick.

And even if you’ve read the first edition, there’s so much more in this corrected and expanded volume, including more illustrations drawn by the killer himself; and these too are a window into the mind of the murderer.

If you want a more in-depth look at Danny Rolling, this is the book for you.

Reviews of the First Edition

Feral House published the First Edition of The Making of a Serial Killer in 1996, saying:

  • The book you are holding tells its story from the vantage point of murderer Danny Rolling and his former love interest, Sondra London. The five murders Rolling committed in 1990 caused hundreds of students to flee a Gainesville, Florida college campus in terror.

    The author admits committing horrendous crimes, but blames them on demonic entities possessing his body. Rolling wrote about these demons in a way that convinced Colin Wilson, an expert on occultism and crime, that Rolling was dealing with something greater than a mere nightmare. In Rolling’s words: “‘I was resting on my iron bunk when this thing that appeared like a gargoyle pounced on my chest, pinning me to the mattress. It had both claws pressing against my shoulders.”

    The man convicted of the vicious murders of five college students in Gainesville, Florida, discusses his motivations and actions in committing the crimes, reflects on what made him into a killer, and his struggle to come to terms with what he did.
Cato Conroy says, in "Must-Read Books Written by Serial Killers":
  • Danny Rolling is the most infamous serial killer to live in Florida since Ted Bundy, and is currently incarcerated for the murders of five different people. He is, by every definition, a classic case of a serial killer — and in The Making of a Serial Killer, Rolling explains how he became a monster in his own words.

    Rolling discusses why he killed his victims, what went through his mind, and how he currently struggles to come to terms with what he did now that he's in jail. This book is seriously disturbing, and to keep the authenticity of his writing intact, has a lot of spelling errors.

    That being said, many people claim that The Making of a Serial Killer is a book meant to drum up sympathy for the devil, as he discusses his childhood abuse as a reason for his becoming a killer. However, it's hard to tell if it's a sympathy ploy, or not.

    Is it a play to gain sympathizers, or is it an honest-to-God reflection into what made him into a murderer? No one will ever know the truth, except for Danny Rolling himself, and his co-writer, Sondra London.

Readers at Amazon left several reviews.

  • Melanie Kirdasi: It is a difficult book to discuss because I was a co-worker with this person prior to his crimes. I was not able to bring myself to read it until after his execution. The content is an accurate account of a disorganized mind, including his grasp on time which is in linear disarray. The compulsive and repetitive focus of a narrow scope of thought is accurately demonstrated and is in keeping with what is know about criminal pathology. The misanthropic framing of reality and perception of self as a victim is also clearly evidenced. Warning to any would be readers, this is explicit material. He was not diagnosed as having DID, instead being found to have NPD, Borderline, and histrionic traits, all in the extreme. For this reason the book may be of interest to psychology majors with a concentration in clinical or abnormal psych, or to CJC students.

  • Passenger B: It proves quite challenging to rate this book, because while I appreciated the insight into a serial killer's and Danny Rolling's mind in particular, it had its flaws.

    First of all, the Introduction by True Crime author, as well as Gerard John Schaefer's ex-girlfriend and Danny Rolling's ex-fiancée - read just as bizarre as say, The Book Of Revelations in the Bible. (No offense to the Bible or Christians in general but undoubtedly "Revelations" is "the LSD clusterfuck of religious texts," as one of my pastor friends once put it.)

    The second Introduction was written by author Colin Wilson who calls himself a rational, scientific man and then writes about spirits and ghosts and possession in his other books.

    Likewise both authors went deep down the rabbit hole of personality, delusional and mood disorders basically being nothing but "demonic possession." A few Christian buzzwords and phrases like precious blood and savior, hellfire and heaven are thrown into the mix and voilá, this is how you kill a book and my last nerve too by the way.

    Rolling is shockingly, brutally honest about his murders and as a deeply religious man convinced that he is possessed by evil forces.

    It's not surprising that he might think so because schizophrenia and other types of delusional and mood disorders run in his family as was reported. **spoiler** For example his grandfather got up from the dinner table and in the presence of young Rolling slit the latter's grandmother's throat, then calmly sitting back down to finish his meal. That Rolling's own father turned out to be a violent alcoholic with one or more mental illnesses is not surprising hence. **end of spoiler**

    It's fascinating to see yet another killer recount in detail his childhood and where their urge to control and then kill came from, how they initially tried to ignore, then suppress then redirect this urge and ultimately failed.

    So in that sense Rolling writing about believing to be demonically possessed because he created at least two alter egos to better handle the abuse, or stress in general, is of course quite intriguing to me. I just do not believe the co-author and author of the Introduction should have indulged him in these supernatural fantasies as this led to another swift mental decline which ultimately cost Rolling his life.

    While I appreciate how detail oriented this book is in all other areas, in my personal opinion London did her protégé a tremendous disservice in including the entire gruesome and unsavory specifics of the rapes and murders in the book. I'm serious, if you are an abuse survivor or you are even just a tad of a sensitive character do not read these accounts or perhaps even the entire book.

    I understand wanting to be candid and owning up to your crimes but this read very much like fetish fiction, except that there is nothing fictional about it, which is simply stomach turning.

    So why four stars when half of this review is a bit skeptical? Because we learn a LOT about the man, who might annoy me personally, but it's true that this is the only book about Rolling that really and truly explores the man from birth to death, including everything in between.

  • Rachel: The Gainesville Ripper is the inspiration for Wes Craven's Scream films. His killing spree left 5 students dead and the way he stalked into their homes and brutally raped and murdered his victims was shocking and evil. I am fascinated with true crime, horror, serial killers and things of that nature and I like to read different accounts. The fact that Rolling was so involved in the production of this version of events intrigued me. It is not a pleasant read, obviously. There were times I was sucked into the story but that is exactly what it felt like - a story. I felt like I was reading a crime fiction novel rather than something that really happened.

    The introduction immediately had me skeptical about the book's quality. Colin Wilson talks about how Danny Rolling was possessed and that he had three separate personalities with the third being a demon that took over. Wilson explains his belief that it is possible for the serial killers who claim to be possessed by a demon, are in fact possessed as they "have been accustomed to swayed by negative emotions" so "they have opened themselves up to the possibility of being influenced by some of the nastier denizens of the 'spirit world'." It isn't something I believe in. But I am willing to be open-minded and read what Rolling and London have to say.

    Yes, Danny had an awful childhood and if even half of what Danny says is true, then his father should have been locked up instead of being a police officer! But it all seemed very extreme and tried to play Danny as a very sensitive soul who was mistreated and so warped into a split personality who grew as time went on.

    Ennad was the peeping tom, the rapist, the bank robber. Throughout the book, he is referred to in such terms as you'd think he was played by Clint Eastwood or something. He is handsome, with strong muscles and all the women he meets want him. He can take a bullet. He can kick butt. He scared off the African-American convicts who wanted to rape him. It sounds like overcompensating - like he is rewriting what happened to him to make him sound better. It's a contradiction from the weak and innocent image he tries to portray in his early life.

    The murders are described quite early in the book - they are not for the faint-hearted and I'm sure many readers stop reading at this point. It is interesting in terms of hearing the voice of a serial killer but content-wise it seems to be an extension of this killer's delusions as he tries to craft himself into a true American bad boy.

    It didn't leave me convinced that he was possessed. He was certainly traumatized by his childhood and had mental issues.

  • Nicole: I corresponded with this man during his incarceration. While the book is disturbing, it really takes you into the mind of a serial killer, in his own words. This account is written by him with a coauthor. I recommend this book for criminal justice majors, psychology majors, and those going into social services.

  • Holly Smith: I don’t generally elect to read true crime books for various reasons, number one being the writers often sympathize with the perpetrators. Obviously, this is true in The Making of a Serial Killer, as Sondra London and Danny Rolling express their love for one another.

    Secondly, how many incidents can you read of sickos brutally murdering and dismembering their victims? Yes, Danny was tortured as a child, as many inmates have been. He was physically and psychologically tortured. He had an unfortunate childhood. However, not everyone who experiences what he did ends up being labeled a serial killer. I believe there are many times in his younger life where he could have been salvaged. I say salvaged because the damage he incurred at the hands of a frigid and abusive father was likely too extensive and deep to overcome one hundred percent.

    That being said, I believe Sondra put into words what few others could have because of her relationship with Danny; he trusts her. Many areas of the book read like a case files (psych reports, etc…).

    Having worked in prisons as an Educational Psychologist for many years, I can say much of what Danny writes is typical inmate jargon. Inmates have all of the time in the world to write, draw, and think. He writes the typical inmate poetry, the draws the typical inmate images containing angels, dragons, and naked women. He speaks of Jesus, the underworld, and writes love letters to anyone he can attract (Sondra in this circumstance). Many inmates are like this. It’s kind of their “M.O.” What else do they have to do?

    I was captivated by the various personas. It kept me reading. Danny obviously got off sexually by committing the crimes. I just hope he didn’t have the same pleasure writing the book. He says it was a painful process for him, and one could only hope it was.

    It would have been interesting to read more about Danny’s ideas for revamping the prison system, which I also believe is a great need. As a society, if we choose to lock someone away for life, we must be humane about it. I believe Danny poses some great ideas that could be used to improve the way we do business. Additionally, death row shouldn’t be a place where people sit for 20 or 30 years. Inmates shouldn’t live their lives there until they die from old age. It should be more streamlined.
    Even with my objections and questions, I do believe the book is well written.

  • Jen: This is probably one of the most bizarre books I've ever read. The subject has interested me because it all happened so close to home & there was a giant media circus. In addition, the killer was captured in the woods across from the apartment where I'd come to live soon after all this happened.

    I have read the book, "The Gainesville Ripper," but Rolling discounts much of the book, calling it fabrication. This book is reportedly the only true account, but you have to decide for yourself whether you can believe the words of a serial killer.

    We learn a lot in this book about Rolling's childhood. If these stories are true, it's no wonder he turned out the way he did. That's no excuse for the burglaries & rapes & murders, but it does explain why he became so dark and evil.

    The book had an appendix that offers some tips to people to stay safe. I think I'm going to copy it down & stick it on every wall in the house for my teenage daughter to see. She's the age these girls were who were killed at the hands of Danny Rolling in August, 1990. At the time of the murders, I was their age. That's probably another reason all this is so fascinating to me.

    The book is filled with artwork & poetry & songs all created by Danny Rolling. I can't say the guy would have been something if he had been raised in a different environment, but he surely had talent and I am impressed by some of his work.

  • Tommy Walker: My experience of this book came back to me when asked by the Bizarro group moderator what was the strangest book I had ever read, but really I thought it stranger for its sheer existence than for its content. Surely I would have seen more like it if I were permitted to. Drawing on the star-rating guidelines, I found it 'amazing' for its presence on a bookshelf and for Danny Rolling's childhood dream, "The Gargoyle of Heaven," which I tout at every turn as the most abjectly beautiful short piece I've ever read. I was a bit less impressed with the soft porn treatment of his earlier career as a rapist, though as a window into a self-deluded mind it remained plenty interesting. Rolling's terrorized mother, at the hands of his father, lashing out blindly from the bathroom floor when Danny sought to comfort her was an image I won't forget.

  • Kim: It's pretty hard to say you liked this book as it is so disturbing. I remember when these killings happened and the terror that spread in the Gainesville community. I saw this book at a garage sale, picked it up and devoured it over one weekend. It was a chilling read as the killer was so unabashedly sadistic to the victims and took such pleasure in their murders. I had trouble sleeping for months after reading this. Very disturbing story, yet fascinating in trying to understand the mind of a such a psychopathic and prolific killer such as Danny Rolling. Five gruesome murders in just a few days.

  • Nicole recommends it for: Peeps who luv serial killer and true crime books. I give this 4 stars for its level of terror. This book will make your skin crawl and will heighten your levels of serial killer paranoia if you have it. I don't recommend this to peeps who are squeamish or those that have faith that all people are inherently "good."

  • Maria: The book is what it claims to be, which is told from the perspective of a serial killer. It interested me as I was trying to understand why a serial killer acts the way he or she does. Therefore, this book is great in the way of understanding the mindset of the subject.

  • Andrea: Fascinating to see the workings of the mind that penned this. Still unsure on Sondra London's role in this, as it reads like a stream of consciousness by the author. No editing or taming the words in evidence.

    This is not a book for faint of heart, or those looking for a quick escape. This is a book I will probably come back to over and again, as far too disorganized to read in one smooth sweep; but does give some insight into the disorganized killer's thought process. Fascinating!

  • Faith Taraskus. I read this book 5 years ago and it still gives me nightmares. It's the reason I lock my doors and close my shades at night. Don't ever read it if you're even slightly prone to paranoia. If I believed in burning books, I'd set fire to every copy ever made.

  • Chelsea Priest. Could not put it down. I listen to the podcast Sword and Scale and this story intrigued me. You just never really know the true someone! From shitty childhood to finding God and then back to your demons. Speechless!

  • Shannon. Disturbing!!!
Readers at Thrift Books left their comments, all of which are credited just to "User."
  • User: Perfect! All You Want To Know About The Case. I have to say this is the best book I read about this case so far, and it has all the juicy details! It starts out with a little background info and then works up into one of the most amazing, incredible true-life stories I've ever read. All the most fascinating things you wonder about with regard to Rolling and his murky past are revealed here. I think they did a good job here and they should make a movie out of this book! On a scale of one to ten I give it a Perfect Ten. Amazing details that had me on the edge of my seat - once you pick it up you won't be able to put it down until you're through!

  • User: A thrilling ride with the Gainesville serial killer. as u read it feels like u r right there with him as he relives his crimes for the readers. He also tells of previously unknown details of his abusive childhood - his father stomped his puppy to death right in front of him as a small boy - and his stint in the air force. his brilliant artwork, songs and poetry r also featured in his final work. truly a collector's edition!

  • User: Guilty pleasure. It's an enjoyable read. It isn't verbally over-stuffed and psychologically fluffed. It is what it is... if you can take it as such. And much like a bad train wreck, one is somehow drawn to slow down and give it a look. I liked it a lot. It's an easy read. Put it on the coffee table if you're not afraid of scaring away the neighbors. Then again... hmmmm. ;)

  • User: Good Book!!! This is the best true crime book I've ever read. Not the least bit sugar coated, very factual. I'd recommend this book to anyone who likes true crime.
And over at Good Reads, readers checked in.
  • Holly Smith. I don’t generally elect to read true crime books for various reasons, number one being the writers often sympathize with the perpetrators. Obviously, this is true in The Making of a Serial Killer, as Sondra London and Danny Rolling express their love for one another.

    Secondly, how many incidents can you read of sick-o’s brutally murdering and dismembering their victims? Yes, Danny was tortured as a child, as many inmates have been. He was physically and psychologically tortured. He had an unfortunate childhood. However, not everyone who experiences what he did ends up being labeled a serial killer. I believe there are many times in his younger life where he could have been salvaged. I say salvaged because the damage he incurred at the hands of a frigid and abusive father was likely too extensive and deep to overcome one hundred percent.

    That being said, I believe Sondra put into words what few others could have because of her relationship with Danny; he trusts her. Many areas of the book read like a case files (psych reports, etc…).

    Having worked in prisons as an Educational Psychologist for many years, I can say much of what Danny writes is typical inmate jargon. Inmates have all of the time in the world to write, draw, and think. He writes the typical inmate poetry, the draws the typical inmate images containing angels, dragons, and naked women. He speaks of Jesus, the underworld, and writes love letters to anyone he can attract (Sondra in this circumstance). Many inmates are like this. It’s kind of their “M.O.” What else do they have to do?

    I was captivated by the various personas. It kept me reading. Danny obviously got off sexually by committing the crimes. I just hope he didn’t have the same pleasure writing the book and reliving the scenes. He says it was a painful process for him, and one could only hope it was.

    It would have been interesting to read more about Danny’s ideas for revamping the prison system, which I also believe is a great need. As a society, if we choose to lock someone away for life, we must be humane about it. I believe Danny poses some great ideas that could be used to improve the way we do business. Additionally, death row shouldn’t be a place where people sit for 20 or 30 years. Inmates shouldn’t live their lives there until they die from old age. It should be more streamlined.
    Even with my objections and questions, I do believe the book is well written.

  • Jen Marceaux. Bizarre, but attention-grabbing. This is probably one of the most bizarre books I've ever read. The subject has interested me because it all happened so close to home & there was a giant media circus. In addition, the killer was captured in the woods across from the apartment where I'd come to live soon after all this happened.

    I have read the book, The Gainesville Ripper, but Rolling discounts much of the book, calling it fabrication. This book is reportedly the only true account, but you have to decide for yourself whether you can believe the words of a serial killer.

    We learn a lot in this book about Rolling's childhood. If these stories are true, it's no wonder he turned out the way he did. That's no excuse for the burglaries & rapes & murders, but it does explain why he became so dark and evil.

    The book had an appendix that offers some tips to people to stay safe. I think I'm going to copy it down & stick it on every wall in the house for my teenage daughter to see. She's the age these girls were who were killed at the hands of Danny Rolling in August, 1990. At the time of the murders, I was their age. That's probably another reason all this is so fascinating to me.

    The book is filled with artwork & poetry & songs all created by Danny Rolling. I can't say the guy would have been something if he had been raised in a different environment, but he surely had talent and I am impressed by some of his work.

NOW AVAILABLE IN PAPERBACK & KINDLE

The Making of a Serial Killer

THE MAKING OF A SERIAL KILLER 2D ED

Prologue | Reviews | Recall | Troll | Gemini | Media | Last Words

RUNCIBLE TALES | SONDRA LONDON DOTCOM

The True Story of the 1990
Gainesville Student Murders
in the Killer's Own Words.
Murder confessions & drawings
done on Death Row in Florida
during the early 1990's.
Second Edition.