Saturday, January 5, 2013

SERIES SPOTLIGHT: Treasury of Victorian Murder: Beast of Chicago

NBM Comics Lit
This was a fascinating account of the life of Herman W. Mudgett aka H. H. Holmes. There is no definitive number of Herman's victims, it could be anywhere from 30 to 150. In the summer of 1886 Holmes /Mudgett walks into the Holton pharmacy in the town of Englewood, Chicago. Through a series of events and mysterious disappearances, Holmes takes over the pharmacy which thrives under his care.
Years pass and Holmes business and new marriage continue to thrive. So much so that Holmes buys a vacant piece of land and begins to build a strange edifice, his Castle. This three storied building has a lower level designed for commercial tenants, a third floor with several rooms for rent and a second floor that the builders cant quite explain. It is built to Holmes specific directions. The second floor has windowless rooms, secret closets, hidden doorways and trap doors.
There was also a room sized vault and large tanks in the basement along with a giant furnace large enough for a man to stand in, with cast iron doors.
Holmes castle was finished just in time for the 1893 Columbian Exposition, a event similar to a Worlds Fair that drew thousands of travelers from around the world, all of them looking for clean, affordable lodgings near the event. For a select few the Castle was a dream come true, yet for many, especially attractive young women it was their tomb,
I was so engrossed by this story! I had never heard of it and the facts that came out about Holmes crimes are fascinating and disturbing. Holmes was a true psychotic. He also was a bigamist and a fraud. In a city the size of Chicago disappearances were all too common, add to that the multitudes of out of townees and it was easy pickings for Holmes.
As the Exposition came to a close and Holmes still remained free of suspicion yet possibly nervous he closed the castle, forged a new identity for himself and went on a strange journey through St Louis, Denver and Ft. Worth ridding himself of the remaining witnesses of his former identity.
It  is the trail of bodies and attempted frauds that finally put the police on Holmes tail and finally reveal the horrors of the castle.
This is an amazing detailed rendering of the life of a monster. It is astounding that Holmes stayed out of jail for so long. His cold hearted actions and multiple marriages speak of a man only existing to satisfy his random desires.
Shocking and fascinating a great read!

1 comment:

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