Eliot Ness investigates the Cleveland Torso Murderer, who left thirteen bodies scattered across the city in the 1930s in a historical true crime story from the biographer, historian and award-winning author of The Hour of Peril. 75,000 first printing. Illustrations. - (Baker & Taylor)
New York Times bestselling author and Edgar Award-winner Daniel Stashower returns with American Demon, a historical true crime starring legendary lawman Eliot Ness.
Boston had its Strangler. California had the Zodiac Killer. And in the depths of the Great Depression, Cleveland had the Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run.
On September 5th, 1934, a young beachcomber made a gruesome discovery on the shores of Cleveland’s Lake Erie: the lower half of a female torso, neatly severed at the waist. The victim, dubbed “The Lady of the Lake,” was only the first of a butcher’s dozen. Over the next four years, twelve more bodies would be scattered across the city. The bodies were dismembered with surgical precision and drained of blood. Some were beheaded while still alive.
Terror gripped the city. Amid the growing uproar, Cleveland’s besieged mayor turned to his newly-appointed director of public safety: Eliot Ness. Ness had come to Cleveland fresh from his headline-grabbing exploits in Chicago, where he and his band of “Untouchables” led the frontline assault on Al Capone’s bootlegging empire. Now he would confront a case that would redefine his storied career.
Award-winning author Daniel Stashower shines a fresh light on one of the most notorious puzzles in the annals of crime, and uncovers the gripping story of Ness’s hunt for a sadistic killer who was as brilliant as he was cool and composed, a mastermind who was able to hide in plain sight. American Demon reconstructs this ultimate battle of wits between a hero and a madman.
- (Macmillan School
Publishers Weekly Reviews
Edgar winner Stashower (The Hour of Peril: The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War) provides the definitive look at the case of Cleveland's Torso Killer, who claimed at least 12 victims in the 1930s. The killings happened on the watch of Eliot Ness (1903–1957), who became the city's director of public safety in 1935 after his much vaunted, and exaggerated, role in bringing Chicago gangster Al Capone to justice. The killer's victims seemed to have been randomly selected, and their dismembered remains were left in a poor neighborhood with a large vagrant population. Ness's failure to catch the killer was devastating to his career and reputation. Stashower presents a warts-and-all portrait of Ness, who achieved some success in combating corruption in Cleveland but was unfaithful to his wife and less than fully engaged in the hunt for the Torso Killer. Despite that, Stashower manages to engender empathy for Ness, who was out of his depth dealing with a kind of murderer law enforcement in general was ill-equipped to handle, and who died at 54 after being reduced to working in a bookstore to earn some money. The combination of a baffling unsolved crime with a nuanced portrayal of an American icon adds up to another winner for this talented author. Agent: Susanna Einstein, Einstein Literary Management. (Sept.)
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