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Publisher's Summary

From "America's principal chronicler of its greatest psychopathic killers" (Boston Book Review) comes the definitive account of Ed Gein, a mild-mannered Wisconsin farmhand who stunned an unsuspecting nation - and redefined the meaning of the word psycho.
The year was 1957. The place was an ordinary farmhouse in America's heartland, filled with extraordinary evidence of unthinkable depravity. The man behind the massacre was a slight, unassuming Midwesterner with a strange smile - and an even stranger attachment to his domineering mother. After her death and a failed attempt to dig up his mother's body from the local cemetery, Gein turned to other grave robberies and, ultimately, multiple murders.
Driven to commit gruesome and bizarre acts beyond all imagination, Ed Gein remains one of the most deranged minds in the annals of American homicide. This is his story, recounted in fascinating and chilling detail by Harold Schechter, one of the most acclaimed true-crime storytellers of our time.
©1989 Harold Schechter (P)2016 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Adam on 08-26-16

Has its Moments but Overly Salacious

The first 40% or so of this book was what I found most engaging; the background about the region, Gein's family history and early life, etc., provided some good insights.

However, by about the middle of the book, once Gein's crimes are finally uncovered, the narrative sharply detours into voyeurism of the horrors he perpetrated, with long, tortuous cataloging of the same grotesqueries over and over.

There are aspects of the investigation, trial, and what lay behind Gein's psychopathy that are of interest throughout this second portion, but you have to wade through a lot of wretchedly prurient detail. I would have appreciated more focus on the legal, forensic, and psychological investigations, and less of the horror show.

On the plus side, the book does do a solid job of depicting Gein's persona and demeanor, and setting him in the context of his time and place. Overall, that's probably the book's greatest strength.

One oddity -- the end seems to come rather abruptly and is utterly forgettable. It's only been a week or so since I listened to this and I can't really recall how it wraps up.

The narration is serviceable and well done. No particular aspects stand out as especially noteworthy, but Mr. Bray is clearly a capable professional and delivers a worthy performance. I'd be glad to hear other works by him.

Overall, this work is moderately informative and insightful. Absolutely not recommended if you don't have a strong stomach for accounts of atrocity. If you can tolerate that and you have an interest in this case for the forensics or psychopathology, then it's moderately worthwhile. Definitely not a priority or a must-read though.

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74 of 79 people found this review helpful


By E F on 07-17-16

The best of true crime

Ed Gein is a classic at this point, and this book does his incredible story justice. If you have liked any of the stories he inspired (Psycho, Texas Chainsaw, etc) you have to read this to know where it all began. Parts of this book are very hard to listen to, because it goes into a lot of graphic detail about Gein's corpse mutilations, so keep that in mind. Overall, this is a chilling and entrancing story!

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31 of 33 people found this review helpful

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