The heinous bloodlust of Dr. H.H. Holmes is notorious -- but only Harold Schechter's Depraved tells the complete story of the killer whose evil acts of torture and murder flourished within miles of the Chicago World's Fair. "Destined to be a true crime classic" (Flint Journal, MI), this authoritative account chronicles the methods and madness of a monster who slipped easily into a bright, affluent Midwestern suburb, where no one suspected the dapper, charming Holmes -- who alternately posed as doctor, druggist, and inventor to snare his prey -- was the architect of a labyrinthine "Castle of Horrors." Holmes admitted to twenty-seven murders by the time his madhouse of trapdoors, asphyxiation devices, body chutes, and acid vats was exposed. The seminal profile of a homegrown madman in the era of Jack the Ripper, Depraved is also a mesmerizing tale of true detection long before the age of technological wizardry.
Herman Mudgett, born in New Hampshire in 1860, purportedly achieved worldwide notoriety as the serial killer Dr. H. H. Holmes. He certainly made an impression in Chicago, where he built a ``castle'' filled with soundproof rooms, stairways that went nowhere and chutes leading to huge vats in the basement. How many women died there is unknown. Ironically, a case of insurance fraud that was no fraud at all resulted in Holmes's arrest, conviction and hanging. He had talked his aide, Ben Pitezel, into getting an insurance policy on his own life, assuring Pitezel that they could render a cadaver unidentifiable, pass it off as Pitezel and collect $10,000. Then he killed Pitezel and, subsequently, three of his five children. Schechter ( Deviant ) has done a masterful job of reconstructing Holmes's killing spree and detailing the detective work that led to his apprehension. Illustrations not seen by PW .
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