cover image The Saga of the Bloody Benders

The Saga of the Bloody Benders

Rick Geary, . . NBM, $15.95 (80pp) ISBN 978-1-56163-498-9

Geary's ninth volume in his violent but informative and well-researched series covers the little known tale of the so-called Bloody Benders, a mysterious family of possibly German immigrants who set up a small grocery/hotel catering to travelers along the Osage Trail in southern Kansas in 1870. The townspeople figure out pretty quick that the Benders are an odd lot (the ethereally beautiful daughter holds séances and claims to be a healer, while the ape-like father barely speaks, and the son seems simpleminded). It takes them quite a bit longer to glom on to the fact that too many travelers, especially those with money, are disappearing near the Benders' place. By the time the locals catch on, the Benders have fled, leaving a multitude of gruesome clues behind. Because much about the Benders remains unknown, the story easily lends itself to fantasy and speculation, and Geary recounts theories about who they really were and what happened to them, presented in a quite credible manner, all accompanied by his usual exquisite art. Geary's riveting writing has a journalistic, matter-of-fact tone, making it quite palatable to adult audiences; though the subject matter may make some school librarians think twice. (July)