Nigel Jones

Jack the Bad

The Vienna Woods Killer: A Writer's Double Life

By

Granta Books 350pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

Jack Unterweger, the subject of this cautionary tale, was born in 1950 to an unknown American GI father. Abandoned by his Austrian mother to be raised by his grandfather deep in rural Styria, Jack grew up a runty 5′ 6″, with cold button eyes.

From his earliest years Jack exhibited psychopathic tendencies, rat-like cunning, an ability to charm women and an obsession with prostitutes. In 1974, on the road in Germany, he casually murdered an eighteen-year-old girl in front of his then girlfriend – his victim’s neighbour – in a fashion that became his trademark: handcuffing her hands behind her back, battering her with his fists, driving her to isolated woodland before marching her to the site of her own death, and then slowly strangling her with her bra tied in an unusual knot to draw out the process as painfully as possible.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Lecture on war and peace in 19th-century Europe by Professor Sir Richard Evans, Thurs 25 Oct, 6.30pm Europe House… ,
    • 'Why, throughout the world, are so many people fascinated by the fiction and reality of espionage? And why of all p… ,
    • . here on books, Muriel Spark and life's tangled dance ,
    • RT : There aren't enough aggressive subtitles these days: ,
    • Churchill's on the cover of the October edition of the magazine. Piers Brendon reviews two new books about the Brit… ,
    • 'Readers have no more power to predict where the next story is going to take them than the prisoners had to determi… ,
    • 'Ho was no Soviet or Chinese puppet. He was a nationalist first and foremost. Had the Americans just realised this.… ,