Author: Stella Sands
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, NY, NY 10010
Copyright: 2011, [ISBN: 0312535896]
Cover: Lisa Marie Pompilla, ZumaWireWorld Photos
Reviewed by: Lynard Barnes, March 18, 2014
Summary: Contestant on the 1978 television program The Dating Game, Rodney Alcala was to be arrested less than a year later for the murder of twelve year-old Robin Samsoe. This book is informative and provides a few details about how a Rodney Alcala can run lose in society. He has been sentenced to death three times over the last thirty years—if that’s a clue. This book is an excellent piece of work.
THE DATING GAME KILLER chronicles the crimes and legal battles of Rodney Alcala. Alcala is better known as The Dating Game killer because he appeared on the television show in September 1978 and was selected by the featured bachelorette as her date. What makes Stella Sands’ rehashing of Alcala’s crimes a cut above the usual is the sense of the times she brings to the narrative. It is a rare quality found in crime books.
To call the period from 1968 to roughly 1982 tumultuous is the wrong descriptor. Similar to the period 1896 to the end of World War I, American society was a turbulent, incongruent world of change. Most of the changes in the air weathered and died. Some survived. The prevailing mantra of social studies at the time was that there were too many people in the world and more were coming. Over-population. It was a feeling. Not science. It was a feeling that could be used to explain a lot of aberrant or undesirable behavior. The science behind the feeling arrived in 1968 when John B. Calhoun conducted a study of mice living in overpopulated pens. He and social scientists extrapolated to arrive at dire consequences for the baby-boomer (1946 to 1960) generation. At the time, 1968, the first-wave of baby-boomers were just reaching or slightly into their twenties. Rodney Alcala missed the boomer designation. He was born in 1943.