"Even when the rainbow seems to pass right by me....I'm still finding Gold in the clouds....."

01 September 2017

2017 Book Review #26: Terror in the Adirondacks

After my dad died, my sister was cleaning out some of his things and came across this book.  She asked if I had read it and I said no but that I had wanted to.

The reason was because I was 13 and 14 when all of this was going on not far from my parents' summer camp in Northville, NY!!  In fact, I clearly remember my mother driving us 3 girls to camp one morning while this guy was on the run in the area.  We were on the Benson Road when all of a sudden a man wearing a red hunting jacket, baseball cap and carrying a rifle jumped out of the woods along the side of the road. My mom screamed and I remember her pressing her foot to the gas and taking off fast.  When we got to town, just before the bridge crossing over the Great Sacandaga Lake, our car was stopped by the state troopers who were checking every car trunk. It was a scary time and I remember my mom praying that we would be safe in our camp.


This book is a biography of the life of Robert F. Garrow, the most notorious criminal in New York State and specifically the Adirondack Mountains.

He committed 5 murders and many rapes and it is believed that he actually committed more than that in the years leading up to 1973.

It was the summer of 1973 and it would take 5 years of court room battles, prison transfers, and an escape before he was finally shot to death while on the run from his break from the prison south of Albany.

That July, this serial killer went on a rampage throughout the southern and central regions of the the Adirondack mountains.  He terrified thousands of residents and vacationers, among them hikers and people who owned camps.  It was a summer of terror unlike anything the mountains had ever experienced.

Before he was actually captured, it was the longest manhunt in Adirondack history, and of the longest the state of New York has ever seen.  The trial was very bizarre and shocked people from coast to coast.

Robert Garrow grew up poor in a  farming community in the eastern part of the Adirondacks (I have hiked 2 mountains near his hometown!).  He suffered from horrible physical abuse by the hands of his parents.  He had a secret life of crime as an adult and was able to manipulate the legal, medical, and correctional professionals right up to the state level!!  He actually had everyone convinced, including medical professionals from Albany Medical Center, that he was paralyzed after being shot at upon his capture.  This was later found to be untrue and it was not discovered until his autopsy FIVE YEARS LATER!  Unbelievable.

This case also birthed a nationwide debate about legal ethics.  It is now discussed in just about every college course that teaches legal ethics and client confidentiality.  The movie, Sworn to Silence, is based on the ineptitude of the 2 lawyers defending Garrow.

He was a serial rapist and killer and the number of victims will probably never be known.  He did admit to several of those crimes and even led detectives to some of the scenes were bodies were buried.  But many others are now cold cases from central NY all the way to the northern border with Canada.

This is not a pretty part of the Adirondack history.  But it is a part of it.


This book was written by a man who was only 20 when Garrow was on the loose in the mountains.  He was a hiker and became intrigued with digging into the real life of Robert F Garrow.

The hard part for me was learning about the horrible abuse he suffered as well as some of the horrible things he did with farm animals.  That totally turned me off, reading about that part, but I can see where it formed the mental illness he so clearly suffered from.

The thing I did enjoy was reading about the manhunt because he was on the loose in areas where I have hiked as an adult!!  In fact, I want to go back to some of the trails along the road where he was hiding out.  It is very interesting to me that he was able to elude that many state troopers and FBI professionals as long as he did.  He literally was on the run for a month and never really ventured all that far from his 2nd murder victim!  In fact, I drive past the road where he was outing out all the time when hiking up in that region of the mountains.

This book does do a good job depicting what went wrong with the legal system and prison system and how this serial killer affected NYS and our beloved mountains.

In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 17 and older due to very graphic content.

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, I rate this an 8.

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