Fiend: The Shocking True Story Of America's Youngest Serial Killer
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Fiend: The Shocking True Story Of America's Youngest Serial Killer

3.64 of 5 stars 3.64  ·  rating details  ·  399 ratings  ·  33 reviews


When fourteen-year-old Jesse Pomeroy was arrested in 1874, a nightmarish reign of terror over an unsuspecting city came to an end. "The Boston Boy Fiend" was imprisoned at last. But the complex questions sparked by his ghastly crim

Paperback, 320 pages
Published October 1st 2000 by Gallery Books
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The Stranger Beside Me by Ann RuleThe Serial Killer Files by Harold SchechterThe Manson File by Nikolas SchreckThe Night Stalker by Philip CarloSerial Killer Series Boxed Set by R.J. Parker
Non-fiction books about Serial Killers
24th out of 74 books — 64 voters
Serial Killer Series Boxed Set by R.J. ParkerUnsolved Serial Killings by R.J. ParkerThe Stranger Beside Me by Ann RuleGreen River, Running Red by Ann RuleThe Manson File by Nikolas Schreck
True Crime--Serial killers
31st out of 71 books — 118 voters

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When Jesse Pomeroy was arrested in 1874, he was fourteen years old. When he was twelve he had abducted and tortured young boys, this lead to him being sent to reform school. He fooled people into believing he had changed, and was released. Returning to Boston, he went to work in his mother’s store, eventually killing two young children. He was dubbed “The Boston Boy Fiend”.

This book covers the life of Jesse Pomeroy, as much as is known, the crimes, the details of the investigation, trial and Pom...more
This book was a complete page turner until its mid-section. Although the newspaper article of the time were necessary for one to fully understand the era, the constant reports of how the people of the era felt got to be a little too redundant. In fact, I stopped reading the book for a while because of this. But once I started again about a week later, the book was devoured.
Schechter is a brilliant writer and always has the ability to tell the story straight while letting the reader reach his ow...more
This book isn't an easy one to read. Jesse Pomeroy's actions before he was finally jailed for his crimes are unspeakably horrific and sickening. He cut, slashed, stabbed, bit, and tortured his victims, killing two, all of whom were very young children. The detail in the beginning of the book, where Schechter discusses Pomeroy's depravity, is quite horrific, making this book not for the faint of heart or the squeamish.

About the only positive thing that can be said about "the boy fiend," as he wa...more
Tara Lynn
Although I enjoyed this book, it often had the feel of reading fiction. I don't know if Schechter's other books follow the same line of fictional seeming narrative, but I often felt that there was too much of the author's personal interest in what was supposed to have been a detailed catalogue of Jesse Pomeroy. I feel that the middle of book dragged a bit as the author had to search for material to pad the detail that he could glean about Pomeroy's life in prison. All in all, it was interesting,...more
Kara Ripley
This was a strange book. I assumed it would be because of the subject, but I found myself feeling totally engrossed in Jesse's story. He was so patheic as well as hateable, I spent half my time feeling sorry for him and half my time wanting him to die. It was very conflicting.

I wish that the author had spent more time on the psychology of serial killers instead of the back and forth legal things that happend in Jesse's case. But all in all a very interesting book (even for non-fiction!)
Wow! What a sad story. Sad because so many children suffered and at least two died at the hands of this sick child. Because mental illnesses were so vague and undefined and mental health was not yet really being studied and understood past the surface, this very sick child was allowed to be released from his first imprisonment after just a few months and return to his neighborhood where he almost immediately took things to a whole new level and killed two children. He really had no remorse or ca...more
This book was okay. It spent a great deal of analysis on the trial and the reaction moreso than the crime. If that interests you, than you will like this book. If not, than I would avoid it. It is great from a psycho-analysis point of view.
The story was interesting but the book was not. I wanted to keep reading to find out more about the boy but the way it was written made it hard to read. I found the writing style was very boring but the content was extremely intriguing.
I finally finished this book. I didn't think I'd make it. I think I can honestly say that after reading this book I know everything there is to know about Jesse Harding Pomeroy. And that that is too much. This book would satisfy Jesse. His life is now recorded down for people to read every last sensational thing he was to be known for. The fact that the sensational things were his criminal acts and that he was probably the first best recorded jailed sociopath of the turn of the century are the o...more
this was way too shocking & disturbing... this is the true story of "america's youngest serial killer" - it's unimaginable, really. a horrific account of a seriously deranged young man in boston who preyed on innocent, young kids in the late 1800''s quite disturbing. i guess a point worth recognizing is that long before columbine or any of the other recent incidents in america where "kids" killed other kids - there were psycho, deranged adolescents doing horrible acts like those docume...more
Deanne Ruedemann
Compelling Read

I did not know anything about this compelling crime story, but reading this book has enlightened me to a past world full of struggling with how to deal with such a person as Jesse Polmeroy. The author does a good job of telling this story in such a way to keep it fascinating. He shows how although times have changed, human nature has not.
Definitely shows that juvenile crime is nothing new under the sun. Wish we'd come further in all these years with regards to stopping it and understanding it. It is amazing how long this man lasted in solitary. It is equally amazing that his name is virtually unknown today.
Oct 22, 2009 William marked it as to-read
Looks like a good book. I read one (teaser) chapter that one of these book websites allows.

I live in South Boston and have pretty much pin pointed all the places mentioned in accounts of Jessy Pomoroy's crime spree. I was afraid the book was going to be the same old story, but it appears to be well written. I'm going to read the book so I can get more precise information.

I know Jessy lived on the 300 block of West Broadway here in Southie.

His mothers dress shop where the 10 y/o girl was found...more
The Cute Little Brown-haired girl
And we thought that teens these days were so horrible. This kid was a serial killer who was finally arrested at age FOURTEEN!!! And you thought YOUR kid was f***ed up. This is sure to bring hope to many parents who thought their kid was a mess. Seriously though, I think it would be a good read because this takes place in the late 1800's--around the time of Jack the Ripper-and so the author pieced together newspaper articles and records of a boy's home to draft this. Wow. It's going to be good to...more
J. Unfun
This book is a interesting read if you are interested in serial killers. It's set in Boston at the turn of the 20th century, it follows true accounts from several different community members police, store owners etc. leading up to the discovery of the crimes committed by one of America's youngest serial killers. Not for the faint of heart. It also reflects the state of the juvenile detention system in America during that time.
I loved the way that this book was written. I have read a few books like this one and only one other one intrigued me the way that this one did. Yes the subject matter held a bit of importance in the overall intrigue, but the way that the story is given must also be taken into account. Schechter was able to make the story seen fictional in its retelling which is much better than a dry textbook type of mystery.
I love Harold Schechter's true crime books and this one is the most fascinating and disturbing I've read. We tend to think of child killers as a modern nightmare, but as Schechter succinctly explains, this isn't so. Nor are killer children anything new. Jesse Pomeroy was a child who killed other children and who began his criminal career with assault and torture. Dark and disturbing to say the least.
An interesting story about America's youngest serial killer, he also takes second place for the longest time spent in solitary confinement. A good read, although it could have done with only one or two instead of five chapters regarding the public debate on whether the boy should be executed for brutally beating and murdering 5 year olds.
Took the book with me on a cruise out of Boston to Bermuda. It is always fun to read a book that occurs where you are traveling. The book is the story of Jesse Pomeroy a serial killer who preyed on young boys in Boston in the late 19th-century. A great summer book for those interested in such topics.
Joslyne Viquez
The title speaks for itself. The story was definitely shocking, it is hard for me to believe there was a child out there committing such heinous acts. Nonetheless, I know there is evil out there and Jesse embodied it to the fullest extent.
April Rose Mossow
I read this book in college back in 2004. I really enjoyed it, as I do all books involving true crime. This book was exceptionally intense becasue of the sensitive subject matter, i.e. the serial killer being a young boy. Very good read.
Heather Link
Highly disturbing. I don't think that I knew what I was getting myself into but, it was an outstanding story from a psychological point of view. I can't believe how young he was!
Jan 13, 2010 Klongo added it
I got this because I know some of the settings. I don't think I'll be reading more "true crime" any time soon. I want to go wash out my mind with a nice light comedy.
Schechter is an amusing, snarky true crime writer who manages to find little-known cases and/or criminals from ages past and bring them chillingly to life.
Read the first 90 pages but didn't have the heart to continue. Schechter is a skilled storyteller though. This read much better than most true crime I've seen.
Amazing book. Loved it. Great narrative from a variety of perspectives, saturated with juicy facts and a 'pick me up' style.
Schechter did a great job with this book. I usually on like fiction, but he held my attention the whole time.
Shocking true story of a sadistic young boy who terrorized his neighborhood.
I couldn't finish reading it. It was horrifying.
Tatiana C
I enjoyes this book hae read twice.
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Aka Jon A. Harrald (joint pseudonym with Jonna Gormley Semeiks)

Harold Schechter is a professor of American Literature and culture at Queens College, the City University of New York. Among his nonfiction works are the historical true-crime classics Fatal, Fiend,Deviant, Deranged, and Depraved. He also authors a critically acclaimed mystery series featuring Edgar Allan Poe, which includes The Hum Bu...more
More about Harold Schechter...
Deviant: The Shocking True Story of Ed Gein, the Original "Psycho" The Serial Killer Files: The Who, What, Where, How, and Why of the World's Most Terrifying Murderers Deranged The A to Z Encyclopedia of Serial Killers Depraved: The Definitive True Story of H.H. Holmes, Whose Grotesque Crimes Shattered Turn-Of-The-Century Chicago

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