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Wayne State University Press

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Luke Karamazov

Conrad Hilberryforeword by Emanuel Tanay

American History, Michigan, Psychology, True Crime

Published: August 2016
ISBN: 9780814342886
Pages: 192 Size: 6 x 9

In this well-written account of a psychopathic personality, the author is probing our common humanity, especially its darker side.

— Michigan Historical Review

Was it because they were subconsciously trying to kill the drunken, violent man that was their father that brothers Luke Karamazov and Tommy Searl from Kalamazoo became serial murderers?

Addressing this and other questions, author Conrad Hilberry presents an unusually vivid and detailed portrait of two contrasting psychological types in this account. In 1964, Luke confessed to a five-week murder spree in which he killed five men. Tommy was convicted of the rape and murder of four women in 1972.

Hilberry investigates the relationship between the brothers, as well as their feelings about their parents, about the prison staff, and about the woman who has been married to each of them. With the drama of fiction, the resulting story is bizarre, somewhat grisly, but always psychologically revealing.

Conrad Hilberry is the author of several books of poetry including Until the Full Moon Has Its Say (Wayne State University Press, 2014) and Sorting the Smoke, which won the Iowa Poets’ Prize. Now retired, Hilberry has had a long career teaching literature and creative writing at Kalamazoo College.

In this well-written account of a psychopathic personality, the author is probing our common humanity, especially its darker side, in ways reminiscent of many of the 'dark' classics of modern literature. Searl is to Hilberry what Kurtz is to Marlow in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. . . . [A] sympathetic study of the unfortunate ways that his psychopathic subject goes about finding his own form of heroism [. . . ] and reducing the universe to a size that allows him to control it. . . . It is a fascinating portrayal; its fascination is at least partially due to Hilberry's refusal to stereotype or oversimplify his subject.

– Stacy W. Thompson, Michigan Historical Review

Two infamous Michigan brothers serving life prison terms for murder are the subject of a new book by a Kalamazoo College professor and poet who said it took him ten years to finish because he was so repulsed by their story. . . . Although their names are changed, the book is the story of Kalamazoo brothers Larry and Danny Ranes. . . . Larry Ranes has since legally changed his name to Monk Steppenwolf — the model name for Luke Karamozov.

– Detroit Free Press