Depraved: The Definitive True Story of H.H. Holmes, Whose Grotesque Crimes Shattered Turn-Of-The-Century Chicago
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Depraved: The Definitive True Story of H.H. Holmes, Whose Grotesque Crimes Shattered Turn-Of-The-Century Chicago

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  953 ratings  ·  62 reviews
The heinous bloodlust of Dr. H.H. Holmes is notorious -- but only Harold Schechter's "Depraved" tells the complete story of the killer whose evil acts of torture and murder flourished within miles of the Chicago World's Fair. "Destined to be a true crime classic" (Flint Journal, MI), this authoritative account chronicles the methods and madness of a monster who slipped eas...more
Paperback, 418 pages
Published January 27th 2004 by Pocket Star Books (first published 1994)
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Community Reviews

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Kim
So after reading "The Devil in the White City" I wanted to know more about H.H. Holmes, the first American serial killer who no one remembers. I didn't know what to expect from a book called "Depraved", but it's actually very good. If you just want to know about Holmes, I recommend this book, over "The Devil in the White City." It has more detail, less invented scenes, less imposed pseudo-Freudian motivation, and great stuff particularly about the time after Holmes was arrested.

I don't really h...more
Catten
Part of what makes this book by Harold Schechter so good is the setting. The country's first serial killer, H.H. Holmes Har (a.k.a. old Mudgett) roamed the streets of post- Great Fire Chicago. Schechter uses period newspapers and books written about the killer as his sources, weaving an intelligent beginning-to-end account of Holmes's bizarre criminal history. The city is interesting without being a history lesson and one gets a real feel for what life was like just before the turn of the centur...more
Juanita
Brilliant read!!!

Harold Schechter is my favorite author these days and this book is why.

He talks about the serial killer H. H. Holmes and details what this monster did. Even though I knew who the killer was - I'd watched a documentary with Harold Schechter explaining what Holmes had manufactured, so I knew, I thought, everything about him - I was STILL constantly surprised by the revelations of this book! That is all because of the details that Schechter tediously supplied. Yet the read was not...more
Lisa James
This biography of the man who was America's first serial killer was well deserving of a 4 star rating. It was well researched, well written, down to all the gory, dirty details that made the case so sensational, included photos, line drawings, etc taken from the newspapers of the day, & utterly captivating. It was compelling, nearly unbelievable at times of the sheer scope of his audacity & people skills. If you're interested in the crime genre, you'll like this book, if you're a history...more
Terri
I have read bits of HH Holmes' story over the years and they have all focused on his horror castle during the Chicago's world fair. This book goes way beyond that - to his insurance and real estate frauds, even horse stealing. To show that this serial killer was definitely a con man of the highest sociopathic levels. And his continued lies, confessions, recants was all very interesting to read.

His victims were many and spanning multiple states and even Canada. The time period showed how hard it...more
Karol
This book details the life of Herman Mudgett - who took the name Dr. H. H. Holmes (among many other names) and became notorious for the murders he committed in Chicago, Philadelphia and elsewhere in the last decades of the 1800s. Holmes is discussed also in the book "The Devil in the White City", which I read a few years ago.

"The Devil in the White City" focused in on both Holmes and the Chicago World Fair. (50 people who lodged with Holmes during the Chicago World Fair disappeared, but he only...more
Slayermel
Sep 28, 2010 Slayermel rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who enjoys history and true crime
I found this book to be truly fascinating. I knew nothing of H. H. Holmes before reading this, and I stumbled across it in our library.

This is the story of H. H. Holmes, America's first serial killer. He built himself a large house, or castle of horrors I should say. It stretched a block and the pharmacy he owned was located on the ground level along with some stores. The top two floors where a maze of horrors. There were over 100 rooms with doorways leading to dead ends or brick walls, Stairca...more
Jenn
Chicago... had the first serial killer?! I was surprised. I figured it would be New York or even London. This was a suspenseful tale about a man who kills. Everyone close to him. A chilling read.
Emily Wiersma
H.H. Holmes everyone's favorite serial killer or at least mine anyway. He was a very creative and somewhat ingenious killer. He built himself his own "castle" for the purpose of killing unknowing victims. Filled with narrow hallways, huge vaults, and secret passageways that hid his dark side. He was a charmer, bigamist, and money making schemer who was always looking for his next victim. It is unknown for sure how many he actually killed, he made a confession but he was also a notorious liar and...more
Debbie
I became interested in H. H. Holmes by reading "Devil in the White City", his story being the most interesting part of that book. I then saw a well-done documentary on H. H. Holmes which featured the author of this book. This is a thoroughly researched account of a psychopathic serial killer whose sensational crimes enthralled turn-of-the-century America. Anyone interested in true crime should be fascinated with Schechter's book. I did wonder what happened to Holmes' wives and the children of hi...more
Bryan
"Depraved: The Shocking True Story of America's First Serial Killer" is not a true story at all. Rather, it is a sensationalized non-fiction novel that tries to pass off a subject barely historical as informative entertainment. It reminds me certainly of the History Channel, through which "history" is nothing more than a medium of giving an audience a good story. It is a good story, which is why I gave it any stars, but it is not what the title claims it to be. If you read this book, keep this i...more
Traummachine
This was wonderful. I'd read a bit about H. H. Holmes in The Devil in the White City, but this book was a great addition to what was covered there. Really crazy...we think of serial killers as a modern thing, but the "work" of Holmes was at the end of the 19th Century. Makes you wonder...

Schechter does a great job of pulling you in, providing just enough history to put things in context and to keep you in the setting. He's a really good author, and I look forward to reading his other serial-kill...more
Gary
Since I am endlessly fascinated with history and crime (especially violent crime), this was the perfect read. I've been eager to read more about Herman Webster Mudgett (better known as H.H. Holmes and dozens of other aliases) ever since I first read about him in "Devil in the White City". Erik Larsen's story of the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago is a great book, but it barely touches on the horrific crimes of Holmes, America's first (yet little known) serial killer. Holmes' crime spree (which incl...more
♥ Marlene♥
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Candace
I found this book interesting but not entertaining. I liked the section concerning the Worlds Fair in Chicago and the portion describing the detailed police investigations. I though the determination of the investigator looking for the three missing children was amazing. Living in the era of DNA evidence it is sometimes hard to envision investigation techniques of the past and I feel like I have a better understanding of that now.

I liked the authors descriptions but I found it a bit dry and hard...more
Della Scott
Evidently I read this and must not have been too impressed with it because I either didn't finish it, or don't remember it.
Melody
Dec 08, 2008 Melody rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: an fan of true crime
Exciting read. The writer could trust the reader to get ironic moments and meanings without spoon feeding them back to us at times....also, the little sentences like, "but they would never see each other again" (after we've been told already what is to come), would grate on my nerves ...but overall the book was a fascinating story and the author does a good job making it come alive instead of reading like reporting. It is surprising that there hasn't been a movie about this story. There's a docu...more
Gaylesaks
I just discovered Schechter and I read this immediately after "The Poisoner's Handbook."

LOVE Guilded Age crime. I had no idea that this was about the "Devil" from "Devil in the White City," and as soon as I put the connection together, the book became even more intriguing. "Devil in the White City" only gives the tip of the iceberg of how sick Holmes was.

Schecter is really easy to read and I look forward to getting to his many others.

Amanda Silvia
This was a good book about the life of H.H. Holmes, but I think I enjoyed "The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America" better, partly because I read it first, but also because it was very interesting learning about the World's Columbian Exposition, and this book only included a paragraph about it. But it's very well written and makes you realize how truly awful H.H. Homes was.
Bill
Widely considered America's first serial killer in modern sense, Herman Webster Mudgett, commonly known as Dr. Henry Howard Holmes (H.H. Holmes) opened a hotel in Chicago around the time of the 1893 World's Fair for the specific purpose of muder. While he confessed to 27 murders it is widely believed that he was responsible for many more. Another gripping account from expert Dr. Harold Schechter. Impossible to put down.
Wes Young
The knock against everything Schechter write is that it is so rigid and a little boring. This could probably be pasted in each review of his books. That said, the story in this book about H.H. Holmes is immensely fascinating! This guy was a total shyster, scammer and sleazeball, but even more fascinating was that he built an insane complex of tortures in the middle of Chicago and nobody knew!
Soapykitty
I had never heard of H.H. Holmes before I read this book.His house was really interesting to read about (Currently it's now being used as a post office.I wonder if the workers know about it's past history? I'd be to creeped out to work there lol) It was so sad reading about how he would lure people to his home during the Chicago World Fair,and reading about the Pietzel family.
Tim
Excellent follow-up to "Devil in the White City" by Erik Larson. "White City" focused mostly on the Chicago Fair instead of H.H. Holmes. Depraved focuses wholly on Holmes and his heinous crimes. An interesting read for crime enthusiasts. A little protracted near the end of the book wrapping up Holmes capture and trial, but overall another great Schechter book.
Shane Lusher
Ok, so I like true crime now and then. Rating these are difficult, because it always depends on what you're looking for (you can't rate it on prose style, that's for sure, although there are no glaring mistakes or anything, and it certainly is readable). If you like serial killer books, and you want something a bit further in the past, this is the book for you.
Suzanne
I am not even going to worry about the typos in this book - I loved it! It reads just like fiction, but you never forget the horror of the reality. The courtroom scenes are super dramatic. Holmes was like the Lindsay Lohan of his time (if Lilo had been a serial killer) - all excuses and craziness. This is a great read for true crime fans.
Donna Humble
I love true crime books and this one held my interest. It led me down the path of not only the killer , but also the dedicated men who searched for the truth. It was interesting to read the steps taken by the police in a time before electronics. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading about true crimes.
Leslie
Don't waste your time with this overly long, mediocre account of serial killer H.H. Holmes' misdeeds. Instead, read "The Master of the Murder Castle" by
John Bartlow Martin, a longform version which was published by Harper's in 1943. It's a million times better and available online.
James Riggs
I really enjoyed this book, it kept me thoroughly entertained, while at the same time it was very informative. It did make me ask myself if all of the events and murders were historically correct, since there (to my knowledge) has been no undeniable evidence in the actual killings.
Mark Goodwin
WOW - I never even heard of H H Holmes before reading this book. It's been a while since I read it but I still consider it one of the best True Crime books I ever read. How he managed to do some much and confine his actions to his "castle" is unbelievable but nevertheless true.
Dave
An interesting story about a psychopath, but I have to wonder if books like these don't give this type of person exactly what they want. It's comforting to see them captured and sentenced, but perhaps we would do better to be less fascinated with this sort of person.
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51490
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 The Devil's Gentleman: Privilege, Poison, and the Trial That Ushered in the Twentieth Century

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