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Torso: The Story of Eliot Ness and the Search for a Psychopathic Killer
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Torso: The Story of Eliot Ness and the Search for a Psychopathic Killer

3.75  ·  Rating Details ·  115 Ratings  ·  14 Reviews
The news in Cleveland, Ohio was dominated by two figures between 1935 and 1942. One was a sexy lawman, Eliot Ness; the other was a mysterious phantom killer known variously as the Mad Butcher, the Headhunter, and the Torso Murderer. He was never caught or identified. Freelance writer Nickel has beco
Paperback, 232 pages
Published October 1st 2001 by John F. Blair, Publisher (first published May 1989)
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Katherine Addison
About half of what's wrong with this book is that it was written in 1989. So the book that would actually have been extremely interesting, about the ways that racism, classism, and homophobia shaped the police response to, the press response to, the investigation of, and the failure to find the Cleveland Torso Murderer, is not the book that is actually present. (To be fair, I don't know that any of those things is the reason the Cleveland Torso Murderer was never caught. He seems to have been bo ...more
This book covers the career of Eliot Ness from his days fighting Bootleggers, and Capone in particular, to his decline in the post-Second World War era. In particular it looks at Ness’ involvement in the investigation of the unsolved Torso murders of Cleveland (Victims were butchered and usually the torso turned up first.). The book provided some social history on the 1930’s of which this reader was unaware. It also discussed the building up of the myth of Eliot Ness. The book was an interesting ...more
May 17, 2012 Bob rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not long after his "Untouchables" days, Eliot Ness experienced many successes as Public Safety Director of Cleveland (OH). Unfortunately, capturing the 'Torso Murderer' was not among them. A relatively little known crime, this serial killer haunted Ness' time in Cleveland.

This book is both a look at Ness himself after his Chicago accomplishments, and an examination of one of America's greatest unsolved serial killings. If you are interested in either subject, this is an excellent purchase.
While the story is interesting, anyone without prior knowledge of the crimes in question would likely find the writing itself quite dry. The final chapter, meant to tie up loose ends and speculate about The Butcher, is really just an account of other serial killers and their tendencies, preferences, & etc. This book has made me wonder if our forensic technology today could solve this case, though.
Sep 30, 2009 Scott rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: true-crime
Besides the subject being about one of my heroes - Eliot Ness - and about my hometown - Cleveland - this book is a great read for fans of true crime and the gangster age. Far from being a dry history book, the author keeps you interested by sparsely throwing facts about the areas and people he talks about, as well as enough "meanwhiles" to make sure the subject at hand doesn't get too cumbersome.

Probably the best story about the Torso Murders available today. Highly recommended.
Jennifer Barbee
Sep 16, 2008 Jennifer Barbee rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jennifer by: Stiv
I'm sure that it is likely to be difficult to write a compelling story about an unsolved crime, but it has certainly been done before with Jack the Ripper and the Black Dahlia. Not so here, I'm afraid.
Jan 22, 2016 Fishface rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: true-crime
Very, very well-written, but like all unsolved cases utterly frustrating. Allows us to see the legendary Elliott Ness totally out of his depth, dealing with a case nobody would have an easy time with. Gives a good picture of what the times were like and the difficulties of even identifying the victims in a world of nameless transients.
Dixie Diamond
Nov 09, 2007 Dixie Diamond rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: true-crime, 1930s
I haven't kept up with later analysis of this case so I don't know if this is still considered to be accurate or not, but it is very interesting.

(I understand now that much of the speculation later in the book about the Black Dahlia murder is probably wrong, but what did we know?)
The author was WAY too focused on Ness's history as an "untouchable" and filled in this book, which was, I thought from the title (silly me), supposed to be focused on the Cleveland Torso Murders, with a plethora of Ness's involvement their in. Therefore, it contains, in my opinion, far too much unrelated info on the Torso case. Disappointing.
Aug 31, 2010 Dawn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
After reading Bendis' graphic novel "Torso" I wanted to find out the details behind the case. This book has a lot of interesting information. There is more about Eliot Ness and his fight against corruption than I care to read about, but it was still good.
Lyda Phillips
Jun 17, 2014 Lyda Phillips rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Fascinating history of Cleveland and Eliot Ness's life after Al Capone, and a grisly, still unsolved, series of murders.
Michael Kiersznowski
Excellent "true crime" book. I enjoyed from beginning to end.
Story of a serial killer that terrorized Cleveland in the 1930's with 12 gruesome dismembered bodies, attributed to "Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run".
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