Eliot Ness and the Mad Butcher: Hunting America’s Deadliest Unidentified Serial Killer at the Dawn of Modern Criminology

Max Allan Collins and A. Brad Schwartz. Morrow, $29.99 (400p) ISBN 978-0-06-288197-7
This meticulously researched but often gloomy account of the life and times of Eliot Ness from Collins and Schwartz (Scarface and the Untouchable: Al Capone, Eliot Ness, and the Battle for Chicago) focuses on the legendary lawman’s career starting at the end of Prohibition when he became Cleveland’s Safety Director (essentially, police chief). In this position, Ness led the hunt for the Mad Butcher, a serial killer who terrorized Cleveland by killing and dismembering mostly indigent men and women and leaving their heads and other body parts around town. But the killer, who was never apprehended, ceased his attacks in 1938—less than halfway through the book. The rest is less true crime than a catalogue of Ness’s far less dramatic endeavors as a bureaucrat: his destruction of Cleveland’s shantytown, which displaced thousands of homeless people; labor racketeering probes that detoured into bingo and pinball gaming; and even crackdowns on traffic congestion and jaywalking. Ness’s move into the private sector in 1945 begins a chain of foolish decisions that eventually cost him his reputation, his sobriety, and his solvency. Readers will wish that the authors had consigned Ness’s post–Mad Butcher career to an epilogue. Agent: Ross Harris, Stuart Krichevsky Literary. (Aug.)
Reviewed on : 06/04/2020
Release date: 05/01/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 400 pages - 978-0-06-288199-1
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