Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Pyscho USA: Famous American Killers You Never Heard Of

Psycho USA by Harold Schechter is a non-fiction true crime ebook that I received through NetGalley.  In this book, Schechter has compiled short but gruesome accounts of several of the most shocking murderers in United States history.  These men and women were, in their respective times, considered to be the perpetrators of Crimes of the Century - the most vile and atrocious fiends this country had ever seen.  But they have since faded into obscurity.

Now, however, Schechter has brought them back.  Psycho USA is separated into seven sections, each representing different eras, and each chapter within those sections is devoted to one killer.  Section I, for example, covers the period from 1782-1826, and the last section covers from 1941-1961.  Within many of the chapters are also some side-note boxes, covering points of interest that are mentioned in the main text, such as murder ballads or a discussion on the history and/or psychology behind a particular style of murder.  I found these very interesting, and although I call them "side notes," they're really more like mini-chapters in some cases, since they're more than just little blurbs.  They're just not always specifically about the person who was discussed in that chapter.

Schechter also includes a fair few photos and a lot of quotes from the killers' confessions.  Some of these people just look so "normal," that it really makes me think more about how you really can never tell with anyone how flipping crazy they might be just from looking at them.  Reading the words of some of them, however, it kind of slaps you in the face with how obviously unbalanced they were, and you have to wonder how in the world the people who knew them didn't realize this before the person finally got found out and convicted.