Depraved: The Shocking True Story of America’s First Serial Killer
Reviewed by Nov 16th, 2009

Much as few pick up a porno mag for the scholarly articles, I’d venture to say that few pick up a true crime book without some interest in the sordid details of the crimes. And with a title like Depraved, readers are probably expecting a sensational, and indeed, “Shocking True Story.” The same can be said of Schechter’s books Deviant and Deranged, which managed to make Ed Gein and Albert Fish seem boring.

On the upside, you have to hand it to him that he pays amazing attention to detail. So much attention to detail that I felt as though I’d lived in Chicago in the 1800s when Hermann Mudgett (he called himself H.H.Holmes… wouldn’t you?) was sending asphyxiated bodies down greased chutes into vats of acid in the basement. This is also probably Schechter’s most readable book, and the description of the building Holmes used for his murders is fantastic. He would hire and fire construction workers constantly, and no one was allowed to see the blueprint in its entirely, lest they wonder about the stairs leading to nowhere and the strange, man-sized chutes leading from the rooms. I hadn’t really read much on Holmes before, and this book made me wonder why that was. It’s fairly entertaining, definitely the best of Schechter’s book that I’ve read.

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