Mercury journalist Glen Humphries' true-crime book about a serial criminal who attacked women and children in their homes has won a Sydney history prize.
Night Terrors, which won the Bayside Council's local history prize over the weekend, is about the Kingsgrove Slasher case.
Judges called it "an utterly compelling work of true crime".
Between 1956 and 1959 the tabloid-named Slasher (aka David Scanlon) would enter houses in the dead of night and slash women with a razor while they slept.
The age of his oldest victim was 72, while his youngest was just seven years old.
"He attacked 17 people in the late 1950s and suburban Sydney was terrified," Mr Humphries said.
"The case regularly made the front pages of the afternoon papers in Sydney and there was a real sense of relief when the police finally caught him."
Mr Humphries said he grew up in Kingsgrove, in the same family house his father had lived in when the Slasher was prowling the streets.
"Growing up I'd heard the bogeyman-type stories about what the Slasher was supposed to have done, so I finally decided to research the case and sort the facts from the myths," Mr Humphries said.
"The story of the Kingsgrove Slasher is frightening enough as it is - it really didn't need to be embellished.
"If something similar happened today, I think the community would be just as terrified as they were in the late 1950s."
Night Terrors is available from Mr Humphries' website lastdayofschool.net.