SOCIAL SCIENCES

The Mad Sculptor: The Maniac, the Model, and the Murder That Shook the Nation

New Harvest: Houghton Harcourt. Feb. 2014. 384p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780544114319. $24. CRIME
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Schechter (American literature, City University New York) shares another rigorously researched true crime story in the latest in his series that delves into American serial killers (e.g., Fatal; Fiend; Bestial; et al.). Dusty court records and archived newspaper articles serve as the cornerstone for a disturbing retelling of three gruesome murders that occurred in Manhattan's ritzy Beekman Place over Easter weekend in 1937 and the subsequent cross-country manhunt, arrest, and trial of Robert Irwin, a twisted artistic genius whose homicidal rampage was predicted years before by forensic scientist and psychiatrist Fredric Wertham. Front-page coverage of the deaths of "art beauty" Veronica Gedeon, her mother, and a boarder in their home by a "sex fiend killer" gripped the nation as Irwin evaded arrest until his surrender to journalists from the same newspaper made famous in the play The Front Page.
VERDICT Resurrecting a huge national tabloid sensation covered by the likes of Walter Winchell, this fascinating tale of a charismatic and savvy madman will thrill historical true crime fans.

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