Paul Bernardo is Canada’s most notorious serial killer. In 1995, Bernardo was convicted on two counts of first-degree murder and one count of manslaughter. He was sentenced to life imprisonment with a Dangerous Offender designation, giving him zero chance of parole. Bernardo also confessed to committing violent rapes—perhaps over thirty. Today, he’s in solitary confinement at Millhaven Institution, a maximum-security penitentiary near Toronto, Ontario. And this week, Paul Bernardo hit #1 on the Amazon BestSeller list by self-publishing an eBook spy-thriller titled A MAD World Order.
So HTF did this happen?
Before threatening to set Amazon on fire with what’s left of my hair, I decided to check out what Bernardo wrote. Here’s Amazon’s product description:
The top echelons of the Russian government lament for the glory days of their superpower status. Resorting to desperate and nefarious means, a secret cabal has strategized a plan to return Russia to a world power. By a fate not of his choosing, one man finds himself caught, and involved in the Russian plot. Mason Steele with his best friend Kyle Boorem founded Social Mall. It is a 3-D social media website. It is targeted by the by the Russians for a hostile takeover to get the off-the-books financing for their operation, and the FSB uses the local Russian Mafia as its covert operatives. NSA has picked up al-Qaeda chatter of an impending catastrophic strike against the United States. Given the size and sophistication, it is concluded small dirty-bombs are involved. Mason prepares a plan to rescue his co-founder, revenge the attacks against them, and stop the theft of his company. Unrestrained by rules or laws, he takes the battle to the Russian Mafia in San Francisco and across the globe.
Yeah, whatever I thought. Different flavor on an old ice cream bucket. But I wonder if the guy can actually write?
Now, I’m sure as hell not going to buy this monster’s work, but I did have a free “Look Inside” on the Amazon site. After skimming the first twenty pages, my impression was Hmmm. Crappy cover. Story kinda sucks. Not much of a hook. Slow… not sure how this is gonna keep anyone in it for the advertised 631 pages. But the editing’s pretty good—especially for a self-pub. It’s fairly clean for punctuation. Grammar’s okay. Don’t see any obvious spelling mistakes. And the formatting is professional. Can’t see how anyone sitting alone in a jail cell did this, so there’s no doubt Bernardo had some experienced help putting this thing on the market.
Now setting aside the legal, moral, and ethical issues of a human piece-of-shit like Paul Bernardo being allowed to publish from a jail cell, let me remind you what this animal did before becoming a BestSelling novelist.
Bernardo was the Scarborough Rapist who viciously attacked women in the Greater Toronto area in the early 1990’s. A pretty-boy who later score 35 out of 40 on the psychopathy checklist, he tangled up and married an equally evil Karla Homolka. The pair compounded each other’s sick fantasies which led to them drugging, raping, and killing Homolka’s younger sister.
14 year-old Leslie Mahaffy was their next victim. They abducted Leslie and took her to their house where they videotaped themselves raping and murdering her. Then they cut Leslie’s body apart with a circular saw before encasing her pieces in concrete and dumping them in a lake.
Kristen French, 15, was third. Bernardo and Homolka filmed Kristen’s terror over a three day period, then dumped Kristen’s naked body in a ditch.
Bernardo was caught through DNA. Before the video tapes were discovered, the prosecution cut Homolka a deal, letting her cop to a 12-year manslaughter sentence in exchange for testifying against her now-divorced husband. And that’s the sum of the Paul Bernardo story.
How—in a sane world—is cesspool scum like Bernardo allowed to still breathe, let alone be allowed to profit from his mind? His eBook lists at $5.97 USD so he pockets $4.18 per copy. How many copies is he selling? Well, as I write this, A MAD World Order is #1 on Amazon.ca in the Spy Thriller category and #45 on Amazon.com in the War Fiction category. To me, that says a lot of sold books and a lot of coin.
And it’s getting a ton of reviews—over 600 on Amazon’s Canadian site, so far. The vast majority are 1-Star hates, but some people are sticking up for the right of free speech and uncensorship.
Here’s a sample of what they’re saying:
By Paula McLeod — Hello to the powers that be at Amazon… seriously what were you thinking??? I realize that as an American company that you have very little interest in what goes on north of the border. I also understand the extra work involved in checking up on a vendor prior to allowing them to flog their wares on your site is time consuming but come on…really??? In case you were not aware; there is the little thing called “Google”. How about it??? Do not allow this waste of a life to profit in any way after all of the horrific things that he has done. I do not make idle threats…I will not spend my hard earned money on products that are sold by a company that support a sadistic piece of trash, serial killer, serial rapist, dangerous offender. You must remove this immediately or I will cancel my account and never purchasing anything from your site again.
By Robert Truszkowski — It’s not so simple. Amazon publishes OJ Simpson’s “If I did it”, Charles Manson’s autobiography, Hitler’s “Mein Kampf”, and many other deplorable works, and/or works by deplorable people. We live in a society that is so conflicted. We want to be safe from hateful garbage, and we seem willing to fight in far off lands for freedom and democracy, but it’s a catch-22. Don’t want to read crumby fiction by a twisted freak? Don’t! But it’s a slippery slope once you start banning books.
By Sandy M. — WTH Amazon would even allow this b@stard to sell anything on their site, shows me that Amazon is very sick. Anyone that would support what that good for nothing a-hole has blood on their hands from the 3 girls he murdered after raping them repeatedly, as well as all the other women he raped but were fortunate to get away before he killed them too. Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka should not be breathing. DON’T BUY INTO THIS SICK B@STARD’S CRAP! Murderers and rapists should not be making money from anything!
By Sarahon — To all the upset with the following book…get over it. Yea he is in jail…yes he committed a crime..and now he is serving that time. For life. Yes he is going to make money..however he will never get to touch it because he is incarcerated..those not familiar with the wat it works..if you make revenue while in prison.. You can’t have it until your out. Not to mention the amount of money he would still owe for victims restitution. That money will never reach his hand. Further more at least he is not wasting tax dollars abusing the system. He is at least doing something. The book..amazing read. Loved to story. Very interesting and intrigued me. Buy the book based on the description.. Not the author. Lets help pay those victims family’s for what’s happened.
By Mica — Too bad there isn’t a minus star! Cannot believe Amazon/ca would publish a book by a convicted killer/rapist currently serving 25 years without parole and allowing him to pander to his self-grandizement. Did anyone bother to check out the name when he came into the system or does anyone work for Amazon old enough to remember the horror of what he and his then wife did? I remember. I remember the total state of disbelief most Canadians felt over what this perverted psycho did. I will seriously look at changing my shopping source for ebooks if this book remains on your available list.
By Amazon Customer — Kudos to Amazon! I am so HAPPY ,that Amazon decided to carry this book on their site, without prejudice. It is up to readers (buyers) to decide whether a certain book is appropriate or not. That is NOT the job of Amazon. Thank you Amazon for recognizing the difference. I will continue to buy items from Amazon because of this. Thank you Amazon for carrying Hitler’s Mein Kampf as well. By the way, I haven’t bought this book. I have not decided yet. I may or may not. That decision is still mine. Oh yes, I am Canadian.
By Amazon Customer — Amazon, you are taking too long. The damage is growing by the minute.
By Amazon Customer —Ignore the people who choose to hate. To deny someone access to selling their work just because of criminal convictions is criminal. Plain and simple. Amazon, all the power to you.
By Scott M. — Had it not been for all the bleeding hearts bringing attention to this book, I would have never known it existed nor would I care. Now that you all have, I think I’ll buy it as a collector item. Not because I really care about the content of the book, but as a reminder of the notorious, heinous crimes he committed and people like him still exist in our world. Yes, had we brought back capital punishment when we had the chance, this wouldn’t be an issue. The best way to boycott is not give it attention. Now every news media outlet is letting the world know. This could very well now be Amazons new best seller. Good job everyone.
Hey! Scott M. The voice of reason! (I know this guy from chats around the net. He’s a bright dude.) Scott’s 100% right about the capital punishment issue, but I’m not going to turn this into a death sentence debate. And I’m not going to turn this into a free speech debate either. To me, there’s something bigger that’s the real issue. That’s HTF was a convicted serial killer in isolation inside a maximum security, federal institution allowed access to outside help to self-publish?
And there’s no doubt that Paul Bernardo had some help. I’m no stranger to self-publishing and I can tell you that his manuscript reeks of higher help.
So what’s Corrections Canada’s position on this?
Here’s their official statement:
The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) has been made aware of the (Bernardo’s) e-book that has been published and understands the content may be offensive to some. Offenders are not permitted to profit from recounting of their crimes, however, we are advised that this e-book is a fictional piece that does not relate to this offender’s specific crimes. Materials contained in this book may provide additional information relevant to decision-making regarding the offender. While inmates incarcerated in federal correctional facilities have limited access to computers, they do not have access to the internet or email. They are able to communicate with members of the public in writing and are entitled to privileged correspondence with their legal counsel.
My understanding of A MAD World Order is that the content does not refer to Bernardo’s personal crimes and that’s fine. It’s a novel and many novels are graphically violent. (You should read mine.)
But come on, Corrections Canada. Limited access to computers? No access to the internet or email? Only communicate with outsiders by writing? Except with their lawyer?
I’m calling bullshit.
It’s taken me four years to become a relatively competent fiction writer and that involved thousands of internet hours in learning the craft of fiction writing and researching material. Hundreds more in drafting a manuscript in Word. Hundreds of emails in networking with editors, proofreaders, formatters, cover designers, marketers, and peer writers. And the time learning the computerization necessary to upload to Amazon…
Nope. Paul Bernardo had help. Lots of help. From the outside, which he didn’t get telepathically. Remember—this guy was already locked up before Amazon was formed.
Jeff Bezos didn’t visit Bernardo in jail to self-publish this novel. Bernardo sent it to them, ready to go, and Amazon is perfectly within their rights to keep selling it for him. I hope Amazon acts morally and takes it down, but don’t bet on them trashing a BestSeller.
The real issue is the failure of the system to control incarcerated serial killers like Paul Bernardo.
Corrections Canada. Do your fuckin’ job!