All That Is Wicked: A Gilded-Age Story of Murder and the Race To Decode the Criminal Mind

Putnam. Oct. 2022. 320p. ISBN 9780593420065. $27. CRIME
Edward Rulloff’s claim to fame is an unusual one; he had one of the largest brains on record. Rulloff was a brilliant teacher and academic, a smooth-talking con man, an armed robber, and above all else, a serial killer in Gilded-Age New York City who captivated everyone around him. Dawson (journalism, Univ. of Texas, Austin; American Sherlock) seeks to answer how such an intelligent man could commit such heinous crimes. She takes readers from Rulloff’s childhood through his death, filling up the middle with every act Rulloff was known to have committed. Well-researched and executed and engaging, this book gives readers details of his past through the people that knew him best, including his in-laws and friends, and also through the reporters and scientists who were doing what they could to learn about the psychopathic mind and evil. Lovers of true crime and its history will likely find this read engrossing and shocking.
VERDICT With every twist it takes, this true-crime tale remains riveting to the very end.
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