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Cellar of Horror

3.85  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,089 Ratings  ·  46 Reviews
Serial killer Gary Heidnik's name will live on in infamy, and his home, 3520 North Marshall Street in Philadelphia, is a house tainted with the memory of unbelievable horrors. What police found there was an incredible nightmare made real. Four young women had been held captive--some for four months--half-naked and chained. They had been tortured, starved, and repeatedly ra ...more
Paperback, 277 pages
Published April 15th 1992 by St. Martin's Paperbacks
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Best True Crime
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Community Reviews

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Susan Savidge
Jul 16, 2008 Susan Savidge rated it it was amazing
My Dad is the arresting officer of this guy. His name is mentioned on the very first page and then a few times throughout it. Caution: If you read it, be prepared to probably have nightmares. It's a true story.
Benjamin Sobieck
Apr 16, 2011 Benjamin Sobieck rated it liked it
Sure, it's sensational. But sensational can be interesting if the story is true. "Cellar of Horror" tells the story of Philly psychopath Gary Heidnik. He kidnapped, raped, beat, killed, cooked and force fed women chained in his basement.

The first half covers the madman's criminal exploits. Author Ken Englade takes plenty of time depicting the hyper-sensational insanity. It's by far the most interesting portion of the book. But reader beware. You'll have to clench your teeth to keep the vomit dow
Jody Schnurrenberger
Jun 07, 2016 Jody Schnurrenberger rated it it was amazing
Summary of this Book...
Cellar of Horror: The Story of Gary Heidnik by Ken Englade is a disturbing look inside the life and crimes of one of our nation's most disturbing cases of kidnapping, rape, torture, and murder. With the intent of kidnapping ten women to impregnate them and have a family, Heidnik was caught after kidnapping six women, two of whom were killed before rescue. To further illustrate his derangement, Heidnik fed a mixture of dog food and one of the murder victims to his other kid
♥ Marlene♥
Mar 23, 2013 ♥ Marlene♥ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: True Crime fans
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 29, 2012 Jeannie rated it liked it
Horrible crime that scared the hell out of me but as for his writing, well it left something to be desired. The crime itself kept me interested but I felt the book drug on for too long. Kinda like....let me outta here, tell me the ending.
Sep 05, 2015 Aimee rated it liked it
The portion of the book dealing with the trial was somewhat boring compared to the first part, but the book overall is so short that the boring section didn't feel too dragged-out to me. But then, I'm a fast reader anyway.
I remember seeing this case on the news at the time it happened, in 1987, and it scared me to death at the time.
I was most interested in the thought processes of Josefina Rivera, who was Heidnik's first captive and party to the abuse and murder of the others; she even helped hi
This is the story of the sick fuck who inspired the basement pit in Silence of the Lambs. Gary Heidnik kidnapped six women, raped and beat and imprisoned them. His goal was to impregnate the women and then raise a family in his basement.

Englade covers Heidnik's crimes but he fails in creating a full profile of Heidnik quickly glossing over his childhood and claims of physical abuse at the hands of his father his mother's alcoholism and his multiple hospitalizations for mental illness. On that n
Misty Fogg
May 25, 2015 Misty Fogg rated it really liked it
I can only use Amy Poehler's term "tragedy porn" to discuss this book. I am captivated by tragedy porn and this book fed that beast.

The book is written a little informally about the case as it is not always clear if it is a fact or more of the author's opinion. The case is extensively catalogued from capture through the trial and has plenty of background as well. All anyone really needs to know is it is a horrific story. Truly horrific.
Tera Baird
Jan 18, 2016 Tera Baird rated it it was ok
Yes this guy was sick, it was terrible what he did. I found the book lacking. It jumped around a lot in the beginning. From the present to the past and back. It did that lot. It made it hard to read. I would love to read more about this guy so I might find a different book.
Sep 26, 2011 Nik rated it liked it
I love true crime stories. This was special (and scary!) because it happened kinda locally to me. Real serial killer stories are appalling and page turners all at once. Gary Heidnik was a seriously derranged man whom slipped through the justice systems hands too many times before he was caught. The author had some tongue-in-cheekiness, but since the story itself is so horrid in nature, it wasnt so bad. Read only if you can handle the graphic nature of his crimes. It was not easy for me.
Dec 24, 2015 Jennifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I thought this book was one that mirrored some of the cases you hear in the news now. The girls being kidnapped and then found, but this actually goes a step further, by having the killer not just stop at kidnapping but even killing and cooking the victims and feeding them to the girls. That was sick. I always wonder what's makes people do this?
linda treglia
Jun 04, 2014 linda treglia rated it did not like it
Horrific crime. Too much of the book was about the trial and not about what drove Heidnik or the victims and the aftermath. The book was written in the late 80's when the crime occurred and never updated. A more recent epilogue with events after the trial would be warranted.
Jun 09, 2010 Denise rated it liked it
3.0 out of 5 stars This guy should have been locked in a basement......, August 21, 2008

This review is from: Cellar of Horror: The Story of Gary Heidnik (Mass Market Paperback)

I love true crime and this was an interesting story but to me the real message was that this guy should never have been out in the normal population in the first place. It ended up being more a commentary on the problems associated with housing and treating the severely disturbed and mentally ill people in our society. Th
Russ Bertetta
Jun 18, 2015 Russ Bertetta rated it did not like it
just a poorly written book about a psycho. I've read a few of the Ann Rule books about killers but this was a bad imitation. Waste of time
Rebecca McNutt
This book was really creepy, but it's just a typical true crime novel with not a lot that stands out about it.
Dec 01, 2015 Kim rated it it was ok
The story I didn't find was that well written, but it is horrific the things that this man did. Leaves you with a distaste for him.
Sep 20, 2014 Lorin rated it liked it
First part was great...the trial dragged in the last half of book.
Jan 22, 2015 Contessa rated it really liked it
Very well written. An interesting short (275 page) read
Jun 26, 2016 Joshua rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
Hard copy
Lady Lovecraft
Jan 11, 2016 Lady Lovecraft rated it really liked it
Jan 28, 2014 Marsmannix rated it liked it
Shelves: true-crime
good writing by the author and a grisly story. No pictures in the Kindle edition, though
Kindra Zepeda rodriguez
Pretty good! First 1/2 is details. 2nd 1/2 is about the trial so slowed for me it all good to know. He's so creepy.
Edwina Hall Callan
Jan 16, 2014 Edwina Hall Callan rated it it was ok
Shelves: bookcrossing, 2009
Not as well written as some of the other true crime books that I've read. It seems to have been slapped together in a hurry while the case was still in the headlines.
Jan 18, 2016 Fishface rated it really liked it
A good read about a hideous, hideous case. Full of troubling questions that apparently never got answered. If you want a glimpse at the depths of human depravity, check this one out. I was bothered that there was photo after photo after photo of the criminal and not one of the victims, the survivors or their families.
Feb 11, 2012 Matt rated it it was ok
Shelves: true-crime
The first half of the book discussing this wacko's crimes and long history of schizophrenia was interesting. However the 2nd half dicussing the trial was very boring. All in all I think this had the ability to be an interesting book. The story is just not told very well.
Steve Kemp
Feb 06, 2014 Steve Kemp rated it liked it
Ok book ,if you know nothing of the case . Sadly ,if you have watched any of the television programs about the Heidnik case then you have all and more you will get out of this book. It almost seemed like thats exactly what the author was doing when he wrote it .
Jul 30, 2011 Sheri added it
This crime takes place in Philly, about an hour away from my hometown, so it interested me. It documents an insane man who holds women captive in his cellar for very long periods of time & uses them as sex slaves. It kept my interest.
Steven Shroyer
Apr 07, 2012 Steven Shroyer rated it it was amazing
Very good but gruesome tale of Gary Heidnik, a notorious serial killer. This book is more well written than most true crime I have read and it actually got me rooting for the defense lawyer. I never feel that way! Get this book!
Dec 16, 2014 John rated it liked it
Shelves: serial-killers
Living in the greater Philadelphia area, it was easy for me to connect to this story. It is always the trial that pulls me into these books and this trial was especially interesting.
Lisa Hernandez
Jun 02, 2011 Lisa Hernandez rated it really liked it
The Philadelphia connection was very interesting. However, there are two "unsolved mysteries" of this book that I would LOVE to discuss with anyone familiar with the case...anyone?
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Kenneth F. Englade is a New Mexico-based author who has published nine books dealing with high profile trials. His latest book, Meltdown in Haditha: The Killing of 24 Iraqi Civilians by U.S. Marines and the Failure of Military Justice, will be published in 2015 by McFarland & Co. He also published five historical novels dealing with the pre-Civil War West. His books have been published in Germ ...more
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