The Zebra Murders

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What to expect

This true-crime police procedural is the riveting story of the racially-motivated serial killings that terrorized San Francisco from 1973 to 1974 and how they were solved. Code named the Zebra Murders, the case involved a series of random violent attacks by African-American men against whites, resulting in fifteen deaths. Author Prentice Earl Sanders, the SFPD’s first African-American police chief and one of the lead detectives on the case, takes us back through his investigation as he tried to determine whether the murders were to be considered mere serial killings or acts of political terror. At the same time, he describes the racial discrimination within the police force and how that influenced his investigation. The Zebra Murders is a fascinating look at an era of social and political turbulence and how justice was sought amidst its most violent eruptions.

Critics Review

  • “A riveting read…The Zebra Murders is notable for its steady, measured prose, and its unblinking reporting of the people, cultures, and events of that turbulent time…Much more than a straightforward true crime report.”

    Lisa's List, WHRO Radio
  • “A look at a largely forgotten reign of terror in San Francisco…a useful introduction to the case.”

    Publishers Weekly
  • “Thomas offers an intelligent reading and is completely convincing as Sanders, the first African-American chief of police in the SFPD…Thomas’ performance is faithful to Sanders and Cohen’s account, which alleges rampant racism in the SFPD and outlines the ongoing struggle to give African-American policemen equal rights while recounting the disturbing killings that pushed San Francisco to the edge of a race war.”

  • “A gripping tale of murder and mayhem, a police procedural with racially charged overtones, and a true story—this production delivers it all with a narration equally praiseworthy…Along with telling a sensational story, Sanders’ analysis of the fear and frustration of a newly integrated department attempting to solve such a racially charged situation is brilliant. His tone is moderate and fair, understanding the tensions on both sides and noting with sadness that most of the Caucasian victims were those least deserving of racial hatred. Stage, film, and television actor G. Valmont Thomas’ smooth-voiced narration is icing on the cake of a tragic but fascinating piece of history, well told and well interpreted.”

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