Fiend: The Shocking True Story of Americas Youngest Serial Killer

Harold Schechter, Author Pocket Books $16 (320p) ISBN 978-0-671-01448-3
From serial killer expert Schechter comes a grisly, hopped-up, but surprisingly well-executed narrative of the vicious crimes and long imprisonment of Jesse Pomeroy, the notorious 19th-century ""Boston Boy Fiend."" Schechter argues that ""killer kids have always been with us,"" but even in the context of a history of horrifying examples of youth violence, the case of Pomeroy is appalling. An abused, deformed, impoverished child, he graduated at age 12 from animal cruelty to the ritualized torture and mutilation of younger boys. In 1872 he was caught and sentenced to six years in a reformatory. He presented a rehabilitated facade and, following his shrewish but loyal mother's campaigning, was released after 16 months. Six weeks later he killed a neighborhood girl; an indifferent constabulary failed to discover her body until after Pomeroy was apprehended for a second vicious child-murder. This confluence caused unprecedented outrage; ultimately, Pomeroy received a life sentence in solitary confinement. While Schechter has displayed a career enthusiasm for what Hannibal Lecter termed ""louche"" subject matter (Schechter's books on serial murderers have been titled Bestial, Depraved, Deranged, etc.), he is a deft writer and does well at re-creating from documentation the thoughts and perspectives of long-dead figures; even Pomeroy is rendered subtly, with creepy verisimilitude. Schechter ably portrays the ""living death"" of Pomeroy's captivity (he served 53 years, making repeated escape attempts, and had become a media curiosity by the 1920s), and captures the poignancy of the infirm Pomeroy's release, in 1929, to a prison farm, where he remained until his death in 1932. This is a memorably gothic tale of sadistic psychosis and social vengeance--true-crime lovers will not want to miss it. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/02/2000
Release date: 10/01/2000
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 320 pages - 978-1-4767-2913-8
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