Price, Debbie M.
Price, Debbie M.
Debbie M. Price is the author, with Stephen G. Michaud, of The Devil's Right-hand Man: The True Story of Serial Killer Robert Charles Browne. Before collaborating on this book, Michaud had written other true-crime books, and Price had worked as a journalist and newspaper editor. They combined their skills to tell the story of serial killer Robert Charles Browne and the team of volunteer detectives who worked to unravel the long string of horrific crimes he had committed. Browne was convicted of murdering a thirteen-year-old girl, Heather Dawn Church, in 1991 in the state of Colorado. While serving a life sentence for that killing, he began sending cryptic messages to law enforcement officials, taunting them with hints of other murders. He eventually bragged that he had killed forty-eight people in nine different states, and he seemed to enjoy baiting law enforcement officials about their inability to solve his crimes. Browne's messages were turned over to the "cold case squad," a group of three volunteer workers who work on resolving old, unsolved crimes. Lou Smit was a retired police detective; Scott Fischer was a former newspaper publisher; and Charlie Hess was a retired officer of the Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. For four years, the team worked to gain Browne's trust, corresponding with him and visiting him in prison. They hoped to get information from him that could bring closure to other unsolved murders. Their efforts finally paid off when Browne confessed and pleaded guilty to at least one other murder.
In their book, Michaud and Price include the text of many letters exchanged between the cold-case team and the killer, as well as interviews from subjects who knew Browne—even some of his former wives (he had five). It makes for "chilling" reading, according to a Publishers Weekly reviewer, who further stated: "This unsettling account of the man who may be one of the country's most prolific serial killers is a must-read for true-crime fans." A Kirkus Reviews writer credited the authors with providing "clear, clipped prose and vivid descriptions of the cases" but added that even so, the book did not "bring readers close enough to the killer or his thoughts." Karen Algeo Krizman reviewed the book for the Rocky Mountain News and noted that like Browne's confession, the book's pacing was at times "a long, drawn-out process." Nonetheless, she found that "the meticulous details included here are … riveting."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, September 15, 2007, Mike Tribby, review of The Devil's Right-hand Man: The True Story of Serial Killer Robert Charles Browne, p. 7.
Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 2007, review of The Devil's Right-hand Man.
Publishers Weekly, August 6, 2007, review of The Devil's Right-hand Man, p. 182.
YourHub at Coloradosprings.com, http://www.coloradosprings.yourhub.com/ (June 18, 2008), article about Debbie M. Price.
Rocky Mountain News,http://www.rockymountainnews.com/ (October 19, 2007), Karen Algeo Krizman, review of The Devil's Right-hand Man.