The Mad Sculptor: The Maniac, the Model, and the Murder That Shook The Nation

Harold Schechter. Amazon Publishing/New Harvest, $24 (384p) ISBN 978-0-544-11431-9
In Manhattan’s once-fashionable Beekman Place, the story of a young photographer’s model, known for her startling beauty in a series of lurid seminude pinups, found dead in her bathtub, stuns the big city, mired in post-depression gloom, with sensational tabloid stories. Using archival research and confidential records, Schechter (The Serial Killer Files) reconstructs the grisly triple homicide of Veronica Gedeon, her mother Mary, and a boarder, on Easter Sunday 1937. The confessed killer, Robert (“The Mad Sculptor”) Irwin, was a sexually troubled lad with a penchant for nicking his penis with a razor blade as well as binding up his male parts tightly with a strong rubber band. The author displays a talent for mixing lurid pulp narrative, dead-on procedural facts, and tabloid rag copy. Despite a full confession from Irwin, his defense attorney Samuel Leibowitz, “The Great Defender” with a notable record and clients such as Al Capone and the Scottsboro Boys, twisted the jury around his finger and walked away with a draw. Ambitious, bold, and evocative, Schechter’s storytelling grabs the reader in a similar manner to Capote’s searing In Cold Blood. Agent: David Patterson, Foundry Literary + Media. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/16/2013
Release date: 02/18/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
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