The chilling true story of a serial killer who preyed on men, women, and children desperate to escape Nazi-occupied Paris.
On March 11, 1944, police were called to investigate foul-smelling smoke pouring from the chimney of an elegant private house near the Arc de Triomphe. In the basement of 21 rue Le Sueur, they made the first of many gruesome discoveries: a human hand dangling from the open door of a coal-burning stove.
Proceeding to the rear of the home, detectives found rib cages, skulls, and internal organs strewn across the floor and large piles of quicklime mixed with fragments of bone and flesh. The Gestapo had two offices in the neighborhood—were Hitler’s henchmen responsible for the carnage? Or was it the work of French Resistance fighters purging Paris of traitors and German spies?
As the investigation unfolded, a more sinister possibility emerged. The building’s owner, Dr. Marcel Petiot, was a handsome and charismatic physician whose past was littered with bizarre behavior and criminal activity. When he was finally captured eight months later, Dr. Petiot claimed he was a loyal member of the Resistance who helped kill Nazi collaborators. Prosecutors charged that he was a sadistic mass murderer who lured at least twenty-seven innocent people to their deaths with promises of escape. Estimates of the actual number of his victims ran as high as 150 men, women, and children.
From the first stages of the investigation to the sensational trial in which Dr. Petiot’s superior intelligence and perverse wit were on full display, author Thomas Maeder meticulously reconstructs one of the twentieth century’s most fascinating and lurid murder cases. Drawing on classified police files and interviews with surviving participants, The Unspeakable Crimes of Dr. Petiot is a riveting true crime saga that that “reads like a shocking psychological thriller” (Newsweek).