Comprehensive examination of the life and career of America’s first serial killer, using contemporary letters, documents, court records and newspaper articles. The book traces the infamous Holmes through several marriages, medical experiments and early attempts at insurance fraud, to the many individuals he may and may not have murdered.
Adam Selzer leaves no corpse unturned in this fascinating account of evil doctor HH Holmes. The details are at times gory, and include particulars of the deaths of several children, which some readers may find upsetting. The author also has a tendency to repeat himself a little, though as the text runs to a smidgen under five hundred pages, it was useful to be reminded of earlier events and misdemeanours as the story came to its conclusion.
Selzer paints a thought-provoking portrait of Holmes, showing the many and varied versions of himself played out by the killer over the span of a relatively short life. While he was plainly a crafty individual, Holmes does not fit the usual criteria of serial killer and may have simply knocked off people who got in the way of his plans, rather than killing from a psychological or sadistic motivation. Nevertheless, some of his victims – such as the slaughter of several members of the Pitezel family – demonstrate a distinct lack of feeling for his fellow human beings.
A fascinating and well-researched book that will no-doubt sell in shed-loads when the forthcoming Martin Scorsese/Leo DiCaprio movie (The Devil in the White City) is released.