Zodiac (true crime book)

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Book cover
AuthorRobert Graysmith
CountryUnited States
GenreTrue crime
Published1986 (St. Martin's Press)
364.1/523/0979461 19
LC ClassHV6534.S3 G7 1986

Zodiac is a non-fiction book written by Robert Graysmith about the unsolved serial murders committed by the "Zodiac Killer" in San Francisco in the late 1960s and early '70s. Since its initial release in 1986, Zodiac has sold 4 million copies worldwide.[1] Graysmith was a cartoonist for the San Francisco Chronicle and later also wrote Zodiac Unmasked.


This book chronicles the history of the self-named "Zodiac" killer who was active in the 1960s and 70s in California. It describes the investigations of the many law enforcement branches that worked on the case and other murders that might have been committed by Zodiac, including the 1966 Cherie Jo Bates stabbing. Later chapters deal with Graysmith's many theories on the case, and the book eventually cites two possible suspects (who are given pseudonyms) and details some of the circumstantial evidence against them. Graysmith received assistance from police departments that fell within the jurisdictions of the murders, especially from Inspector Dave Toschi from the San Francisco Police Department, who had worked the Zodiac case.[2]

Origin of the book[edit]

Robert Graysmith was a cartoonist working for The San Francisco Chronicle in the 1960s when the Zodiac murders started. The Zodiac sent letters to The Chronicle which he wanted published in the paper. The letters included evidence that he was in fact the Zodiac. Graysmith saw the letters arriving at The Chronicle and became intrigued. For years the cartoonist kept his own scrapbook of evidence, from which he independently attempted to determine the Zodiac's identity. When asked why he began working on the book, Graysmith replied, "I saw it going into obscurity. Nobody is sharing all the different jurisdictions, and all this information. What if I as a private citizen went around and got all this information?" This led to a 10-year period to collect information, and eventually the book was published in 1986 after a number of delays.[3]


The film adaptation Zodiac (2007) is roughly based on Graysmith's books, Zodiac (1986) and Zodiac Unmasked (2002). The film follows the work of Graysmith as a cartoonist in 1969 to several years after the publication of the first Zodiac book in the early 1990s.


  1. ^ Robert Graysmith Was a Cartoonist Until the Zodiac Case Drew Him In. WashingtonPost.com. Retrieved 2010-10-16.
  2. ^ Graysmith, Robert. 1986. Zodiac St. Martin's Press ISBN 0-312-89895-9
  3. ^ Graysmith, Robert. "Zodiac Killer - Robert Graysmith Unmasked". Zodiac Killer Facts. Retrieved October 16, 2010.