Becky’s One Hundred and Twentieth Book Review: “Perfect Victim” by Christine McGuire and Carla Norton

WARNING – This review is about a very disturbing book that tells the true story of “The Girl in the Box”

I’m not sure why, but I have a morbid fascination with true crime. I love to read accounts of serial killers, cold cases, and true crime in general. I have a ton of books relating to this subject and I tend to explain it away by saying that it is research since I’m writing a murder mystery novel. Either way, I sinfully indulge in these books and when I got one for Christmas I was overjoyed. (Thanks Ryan!!)

“Perfect Victim” is about ‘the girl in the box’ – a story of a sadistic man who turned an innocent hitchhiker into his personal slave and kept her imprisoned for seven years. There was nothing extraordinary about Cameron Hooker from an outsider’s perspective. However, his wife knew a different man, one who would hang her up and whip her, one who would put his hands around her neck and squeeze until she passed out, one who had an obsession with bondage and pain. Janice learned that her husband wanted to acquire another woman in order to make her completely submissive. He wanted someone in his life who couldn’t say no. Thinking this mean she would be free from his unique torture, Janice agreed to this bizarre request. On May 19th, 1977, Colleen Stan stood on the side of the road looking for a ride and ended up falling victim to Cameron Hooker and his sadistic tastes. 

“Few prisoners have known a confinement more solitary, more frightening, more hopeless than the one Cameron Hooker was fashioning around his newfound slave.” (Perfect Victim, pg 15).

In the book, “Perfect Victim” the story is told from two different times – there is a running narrative about what is happening to Colleen Stan as it is happening and then there are flashes to the prosecution of the case. I found this to be very enthralling and kept me interested. I think if the book had been broken up differently it might not have been such a page turner. As it was, I finished this book in a very short period of time. 

I am not going to sit here and write that the novel in itself was that great – it was well written, sure, but it was by no means an extraordinary piece of literature. Rather, it was the subject matter that really kept me interested. It was unreal to enter into this world where a woman was held against her will, forced to live in a box, fed once a day, and all in all forced to live in a hell of Cameron Hooker’s making. Some of the things that he did to her were unbelievable. He used his power over her to turn her into a completely dependent slave and was able to convince her that he was part of a bigger organization “the company” that would crucify her and kill her family should she ever try to reach out for help. Colleen was given a new name – now known to everyone as ‘Kay’ – and was so terrified of being placed with a master even worse than Cameron that she never said a word, not even when she was allowed to get a job outside the home. It was amazing to read about how thoroughly he brainwashed her.  

I don’t want to give too much away incase you want to read this book, so I’ll jump to the end. Would I recommend this book? Yes – but it is definitely not for everyone. If you enjoy indulging in true crime every once and awhile, this might be right up your alley, however it is a bit difficult to take in so I do want to stress that his book isn’t for everyone. 

“People like to believe in an Einstein or a Beethoven – geniuses – but they hate to believe in their opposites. A genius is a mutant, something unnatural. But just as some people are born with extra intelligence, others are born without much intelligence or without fingers or limbs, or consciences.

“The human body is phenomenally complex, with trillions of cells, and trillions of things can go wrong. Cameron Hooker is a fluke, an accident of internal wiring. His instincts are simply the opposite of yours and mine.” (Perfect Victim, pg 370).

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