Real Hannibal Lectors, Brain disorders, and A New Book

I’ve been asked what I am writing now and while many authors are reluctant to talk about projects before they are completed, I am going to share some news with you. My new book is tentatively called The Serial Killer Whisper  and will be published by Simon and Schuster next year. 

I don’t want to give away too much because there should be tremendous media interest when the book is released and I do not want to undercut that.

But here are some highlights.

The story is about a typical teenage boy who suffers a traumatic head injury during a boating accident. En route to the emergency room, the youth dies three times but is revived and hospitalized in a coma.

Head injuries are tricky stuff and I have been surprised while doing research for this book by how common and devastating they can be. One of the warnings that this boy’s parents were told after the accident was that their son might not recognize them when and if he emerged from his coma.  His personality might be so altered that he could be a stranger to them in their home.

If nothing else, doing research on this book has opened my eyes to the dangerousness of traumatic brain injuries and has made me wonder how many of our returning troops will have problems because of TBIs.  These soldiers may look fine on the outside, but have brain damage from exposure to explosions.

Back to my new project. The boy does eventually come out of his coma and he does recognize his parents, but his personality is forever altered and the lives of his parents and brother are changed dramatically.

Because of the TBI, the young man has trouble controlling his emotions and unpredictable outbursts of rage. At one point, he becomes house bound. Bored and lonely, he takes up an unusual hobby — writing to serial killers.

Over the next several years, he becomes close friends with dozens of infamous murderers. He becomes so close to them that he believes they are his true friends and he wonders if he might be a serial killer because of his own feelings of anger and rage.

With years of therapy and unwavering parental support, he eventually gets through this period of self-suspicion, sees the killers for the psychopaths that they are, and begins using his access to them to learn about Cold Cases.

I realize this sounds more like a novel (fiction) than non-fiction, but it is true story and I have spent nearly two years mired in the world of serial killers. Because of the horrific crimes these monsters have committed, this book is not going to be for the squeamish. But for those who can look beyond the rape, torture and worse — there is a compelling story to be read about a family’s courage, TBIs and how good can be found in even the darkest circumstances.

In the past few months, I have been searching through woods, crossing creeks and digging in fields in search of forgotten victims, including a ten year-old girl whose case has never been solved. I have felt a roller coaster of emotions. Clearly, I wanted the hero of my story to solve Cold Cases, but having heard what the serial killers did to their victims, I felt heartsick for their loved ones and cautious about pleasing the serial killers with even more attention.

Books such as The Silence of the Lambs make interesting reading but dealing with the real Hannibal Lectors is difficult.

Do we find bodies? Do we solve Cold Cases? What happens to the young man with the TBI?

Stay tuned.


A tidbit.

I have been speaking to a retired Chinese journalist who hopes to buy the rights to several of my books for publication in China.  He is especailly interested in my books about John Walker Jr., the Navy spy, and his family of spies, and also Aldrich Ames, the CIA traitor.

For years, China has been notorious for pirating books. A friend of mine, who is a best selling novelist, visited China and discovered that her latest novel was a huge success there — yet she had never sold the rights to it in China. This was typical. Someone in China would obtain a book and simply begin publishing it.

The fact that China is now talking to authors and buying the copyright to books is an encouraging sign and also a signal of how China is opening up to the West.

About the author:

Pete Earley is the bestselling author of such books as The Hot House and Crazy. When he is not spending time with his family, he tours the globe advocating for mental health reform.

Learn more about Pete.


  1. This sounds very interesting! Your books always have an impact on me and I'm sure this one will too. I look forward to its release.

  2. Pete, I'm not sure I'll want to read this story……but I will.
    Thanks for your commitment to the untold story.
    Lisa Sheridan