I just finished reading The Most Dangerous Animal of All by Gary L. Stewart. It is very hard to review this. The book is basically three stories in one novel. The true story of Gary Stewart's abandonment and adoption make up one part of the book. This part of the book is interesting and an inspiring read. The second "story" is all about the Zodiac killer. The third "story" is about how Gary Stewart comes to be convinced that his birth father, and the Zodiac killer, and the same person.
The reader, from the beginning, is lead to believe that Mr. Stewart has proven with DNA that he is the son of the Zodiac. The sad fact is, that is never proven. Most of Mr. Stewart's claims, are just that, claims, that cannot be backed up with proof. Mr. Stewart's birth mother gives several versions of stories and seems to be confused on what actually happened in her past. Several of the birth father's relatives refuse to even talk to Mr. Stewart. I believe that some part of him wants to know his father so much, that he will take any information he finds and twist it to fit his fantasy. Some of his results, upon scrutiny, just don't stand up. Some of his "proof" is so generalized, it could fit a million different men.
The second part of the book takes what is known about the serial killer "The Zodiac", and places Stewart's birth father into his shoes. This part is written like a novel with assumptions and possibilities that could never be established as truth, because his birth father is deceased. I did not like this part of the book at all and found it distracted from the other two "parts" of the book.
The story of Stewart's birth and raising and finding his family, is worth reading. His story is inspirational. People need to know that abandonment should not stop you from becoming a good, valuable person. It is also good to know that we are not our parents, and we don't have to make the mistakes they made. This section is a wonderful reminder that adoptive parents can raise wonderful children, even those who come from terrible parents.
The third part of the book should be called "Why I Think My Dad Was The Zodiac". The majority of these claims are not backed up with substantial evidence. Some of the claims are so far fetched that you will find yourself wondering how the ideas even got into the author's head. The credibility of the author is very lacking throughout this section of the book.
As you can most likely tell from reading this review, the combining of the three parts into one story leaves you with a disjointed, hard to follow, story. I really wanted to like the book. I certainly feel sympathy for Gary, and for anyone who looks for their birth parents and gets an answer that they didn't want. Anyone who is the child of a serial killer deserves our sympathy. I'm just not convinced that Gary Stewart is the child of a serial killer.
I certainly love a good true crime read. I would not classify this book as true crime. Maybe this should be in the memoir section. Maybe the writer should have held off writing this book until more proof for his claims was obtained.