From 1978 to 1981, Fred Harlan Coke aka Kevin Coe (after a name change) terrorized the women of Spokane, Washington, raping and assaulting them, oftentimes with a knife generally at night while pretending to be a jogger. The hand down the throat and the asking of questions about the victim’s intimate preferences and sex life, the patting of their backside afterwards were parts of his signature.
From among other sources, Jack Olson’s account is narrative non-fiction derived newspaper accounts, interviews with victims, friends, acquaintances, employers, an ex-wife, and a former girlfriend of Coe and others as well as review of court proceedings and police investigations including interviews with those who worked the investigation.
Son: A Psychopath And His Victims is readable journalistic-style chronological account from Coe’s first victim to his arrest, trial, and sentencing. Much happened in the intervening years with Coe being involuntarily civilly committed by a jury in 2008 indefinitely as a dangerous sexual violent predator. At times, the account gets tedious with the repetition in details of the crimes, the investigation (or the lack of in the early years), and at times during the trial of both him and his mother, Ruth Coe, who hired a hit man to kill the judge and the prosecutor of her son’s case and the family’s ludicrous and for the most part false (or deceptive) defense of mother and son, who were joined at the hip, if not literally, then figuratively. However, those who commit serial crimes tend to be repetitive — it’s in their nature so any account is going to be repetitive.
Son: A Psychopath And His Victims does not have the punch of Michelle McNamara’s I’ll Be Gone In The Dark which is account of the Golden State Killer who began his crime spree as a rapist and turned into a killer terrorizing California in the 1970’s and 1980’s. However, Olson’s account is an after the fact retelling while McNamara’s account published after her sudden death was developed as she took on the herculean task of unmasking the identity of the Golden State Killer aka Joseph James DeAngelo, Jr., who had eluded law enforcement for years while changing territories and type of crime until his arrest in 2018.