“A detailed, well-constructed account of a diabolical real-life Dexter. Lillebuen has written a riveting, true crime page-turner about aspiring filmmaker Mark Twitchell, who turned his obsession with fantasy into horrible reality.”
-Robert Remington, co-author of Runaway Devil
“A shocking story, rich with detail and full of surprises, The Devil’s Cinema adds up to a great read.”
-Stevie Cameron, author of On the Farm: Robert William Pickton and the Tragic Story of Vancouver’s Missing Women
Reality and fantasy collide with shocking results in this riveting account of the notorious case of Mark Twitchell – and the police investigation into one of the most bizarre murders in recent memory.
In October 2008, Johnny Altinger, a 38-year-old Edmonton man, was on his way to a tryst with a woman he had met on an online dating website when he emailed the directions to their rendezvous to a concerned friend. He was never seen again. Two weeks before Altinger’s disappearance, independent filmmaker Mark Twitchell began shooting a low-budget horror film about a serial killer who impersonates a woman on an online dating website to lure his victims to their gruesome deaths. But these are just the starting points of the stranger-than-fiction case of Mark Twitchell, a man with a startling plan to turn his life-long love of fantasy and desire for fame into reality.
Did Twitchell, in a horrific example of life imitating art, act out the grisly premise of his own script?
Obsessed with Dexter, the popular TV show and book series about a fictional vigilante serial killer, Twitchell assumed Dexter Morgan’s profile on Facebook. But how far did he intend to take his fascination with Dexter?
Is the shocking document “S.K. Confessions” a graphic work of fiction that, as Twitchell claims, he wrote to promote his film? Or is it a diary he kept of his transformation into a killer, and proof that the police stopped a prolific serial killer at the very beginning?
Veteran reporter Steve Lillebuen provides a gripping investigative account of the nesting doll intricacies of the case, plunging us into the world of pop-culture fanaticism and into the mind of a self-professed psychopath. Drawing on extensive interviews, Lillebuen illuminates what can happen when some of our culture’s darkest obsessions are pushed to extremes.
“THE DEVIL’S CINEMA: THE UNTOLD STORY BEHIND MARK TWITCHELL’S KILL ROOM is a well-written and researched exploration of a very dark side of a young would-be filmmaker who is perhaps a tad over-influenced in his life and actions by the fictional TV character, serial killer Dexter Morgan. The horrific crimes and the trial of Edmontonian Mark Twitchell is deftly presented by Steve Lillebuen in a book that is a well-paced, hard to put down, real-life thriller.”
–Arthur Ellis Prize, jury citation
“A compelling and frightening account. . . . Lillebuen takes readers deep inside the mind of this creative pathological liar who blurred the lines between fantasy and reality. The author creates a fascinating and detailed narrative, from the killer’s and victim’s early lives to the dramatic and bizarre courtroom trial. With its ties to online communities, dating sites, pop culture and modern filmmaking, The Devil’s Cinema is a terrifying and intriguing account of murder in the digital age.”
–Winnipeg Free Press
“Lillebuen excels at weaving detail into the larger picture in pursuing his larger goal – understanding the man who committed murder.”
–St. Albert Gazette
“Lillebuen . . . should be proud of his work. The book is being heralded – including by police – as fair, factual and careful not to re-victimize. It’s not a piece of tabloid journalism, or an opinion . . . but an attempt to carefully tell an Edmonton story involving psychopathy and the increasingly easy-to-smudge lines between invented and real in the Internet age.”
“A most excellent book. … extraordinary … chilling. A good read.”
–John Silvester, Underbelly series co-author
“It is the insight into the killer’s personality, the perspective of the victim’s friends, and the unfolding of the police investigation and court case that makes this read more than simply true crime reportage. … The skill of the author makes it hard to put down.”
–Newcastle Herald (Australia)
“Truth really can be stranger than fiction — and more fascinating too.”
–The Daily Telegraph (Australia)
Winner of the 2013 Arthur Ellis Award for Best Nonfiction
Shortlisted for a Ned Kelly Award (Australia’s top prize in crime writing)
McClelland and Stewart, North America, March 2012
Penguin, Australia, July 2012