978-0-671-01448-3 / 9780671014483

Fiend: The Shocking True Story Of America's Youngest Serial Killer


Publisher:Gallery Books



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About the book:

You've probably never heard of Jesse Pomeroy unless you've read Caleb Carr's 1994 novel, The Alienist, which features a brief prison interview with "America's most famous lifer." But this legendary bogeyman will be hard to forget after you read his life story. Pomeroy tortured and murdered children in Boston in the 1870s. He was himself a child at the time, only 14 when he was finally arrested. Author Harold Schechter, a New York literature professor who has made a name for himself documenting nonfiction accounts of heinous crimes, deftly resurrects the past from newspaper accounts, letters, and other historical documents, including a reform school's massive volume disturbingly titled History of Boys. Schechter doesn't take the easy way out. He could have just pieced together reports and accounts, letting the record stiffly tell the tale. Instead, he blends his research into a seamless story, fascinating in its horror, as well as its ability to turn the century-old characters into real people. The reader will be pleased to find copies of engravings, photos, and sketches of Pomeroy, from his heyday as "boy-fiend," as well as his later days behind bars, when fellow inmates changed his nickname to a less-sinister "Grandpa." Schechter sets out to teach a lesson, and in Fiend he succeeds at reminding us that modern times don't have a monopoly on juvenile terror. --Jodi Mailander Farrell

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