Absolute Madness

Absolute Madness by Catherine Pelonero“A gripping account of a complex and controverial case.”
—John Douglas, former unit chief of the FBI’s National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime

Absolute Madness tells the disturbing true story of Joseph Christopher, a white serial killer who targeted black males and struck fear throughout New York in the 1980s. Dubbed both the “22-Caliber Killer” and “The Midtown Slasher,” Christopher allegedly claimed 18 victims during a savage four-month spree across the state.

The investigation, aided by famed FBI profiler John Douglas, drew national attention and biting criticism from Jesse Jackson and other civil rights leaders. The killer, when at last he was unmasked, seemed an unlikely candidate to have held New York in a grip of terror.

His capture was neither the end of the story nor the end of the racial strife, which flared anew during circuitous prosecutions and judicial rulings that prompted cries of a double standard in the justice system.

Both a wrenching true crime story and an incisive portrait of dangerously discordant race relations in America, Absolute Madness also chronicles a lonely, vulnerable man’s tragic descent into madness and the failure of the American mental health system that refused his pleas for help.


Available in hardcover, ebook and audio wherever books are sold.

An authentic and remarkable approach to a captivating, complex, and compelling investigation…A superior work of investigative journalism.”

-Detective Garry McFadden

I Am Homicide

A fascinating, meticulously researched account of a white assassin targeting New York state’s black communities. A real-life police procedural and a distinguished addition to modern case studies of serial killers.”

-Larry Harnisch

L.A. Daily Mirror

An absorbing journey through the complex and tragic serial murder case of Joseph Christopher. Pelonero’s insightful presentation and vivid storytelling navigates his crimes and his torturous mental health, unearthing the realities of insanity and the struggles of an insufficient criminal justice system in trying to accommodate and address the intricate issues they raise.”

-Fiona Guy

Crime Traveller

Pelonero’s meticulously researched account of a mentally ill man’s descent into the criminal justice system will take you on a page-turning ride through a disturbing and perilous process that is still with us today.”

-Pamela Everett, JD

co-author of Introduction to Criminal Justice and author of Little Shoes

A fascinating and detailed look at a horrifying series of crimes by a truly excellent true-crime author.”

-Lisa Black

forensic scientist and New York Times bestselling author