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The Man With The Candy: The Story of The Houston Mass Murders

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  722 ratings  ·  57 reviews
The mass murder of almost thirty young boys in Houston may well have been the most heinous crime of the century. How could such a series of murders go undetected for almost three years before being exposed? The Man with the Candy is a brilliant investigative journalist's story of the crime and the answer to that question.
Hardcover, 255 pages
Published January 1st 1974 by Simon & Schuster
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Paul Bryant
Aug 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: true-crime
The title is misleading, it should have been called The Man Who Really Liked Killing Teenage Boys. That said, this is a beautifully written account of one of the worst crimes in American crime history, which is saying, you know, a lot. And it’s a strangely unknown crime too, not famous at all like your Bundys and Mansons and Gacys. I’m not sure why.

The place was Houston, 4th largest city in the USA now, 6th at that time, the early 1970s. Specifically, the place was The Heights, a poor white sub
Jan 05, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: true-crime
2.5 Stars

The Man With the Candy, to my knowledge (which is often proven incorrect), is one of the first true crime books of the modern era. Perhaps it's better to say that it ushered in a proliferation of true crime books--the ones with plenty of pictures and glossy covers and the occasional sinister title, such as Olson's later book, 'Misbegotten Son,' about Rochester, New York serial killer Arthur Shawcross.

Olson wrote this book when he was around 47 years old. By then he had already had a lon
Rebecca McNutt
May 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Man With the Candy is a really chilling book, not only for the horrific crimes it chronicles, but also the mentality of such a person who would do this. It's a very tragic tale when considering the human beings whose lives were taken by this killer. Shared by the journalist who made sharing this story his mission, this true crime novel unravels what is possibly one of the most shocking murders in America.

The book is quite graphic (it details the torture and sexual assault of many of the vict
Feb 02, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I have read more than my share of true crime and this is by far the most horrifying and frustrating case of them all. Dean Corl," a "candy shop" owner, raped, tortured, castrated, mutilated and murdered TWENTY SEVEN boys from 1970-73 in a shitty Texas town near Houston. Some of the boys were tortured and abused for days before being murdered, by either strangulation, beating or shooting and then buried in Corl's shed. He took a teenage boy under his wing and somehow got him to assist him in the
Aug 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Vintage true crime: dark, unpleasant, but fascinating and unusually well-written. Olsen's interviewing was obviously extremely thorough, and he weaves his investigation into a powerful narrative.

Nothing here is for the faint of heart, including a lot of "period" opinions about matters like sexuality and race that are reported verbatim--and, while not endorsed by the author, not really commented on either. The fact that this case predates John Wayne Gacy but is comparatively unknown is interesti
Russell J. Sanders
Jan 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
After reading Elmer Wayne Henley, Jr., the man who killed serial killer Dean Corll was up for parole (something that likely will not happen,) I was compelled to re-read Jack Olsen’s account of the Houston murders of over twenty young men in the early 1970s. Henley was one of two young men, the other was David Brooks, convicted of helping Corll to procure and murder a string of young men, mostly from a Houston neighborhood known as The Heights. Corll’s story began unraveling when Henley killed hi ...more
Nick Almand
Dec 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I have to say that the most terrifying thing about the Dean Corll case is the fact that it was in large part the attitudes of the Houston Police Department and the overall culture of Houston, TX from 1970-73 that allowed Corll to murder so many for so long, undetected.

To me, the most chilling line in the entire book was a quote from a Houston resident explaining one of the reasons Corll was never suspected as the culprit, despite so many of the disappearing boys having direct ties to him. Accord
Apr 01, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: psychologists
Shelves: crime
Oh, shit! I don't usually read these 'true crime' bks for a slew of reasons. &, now, here I am reviewing them. I'm severely disturbed by knowing about these people b/c I'm hyper-aware that they're really HERE, they're really w/ us, AND they're inside US too. I'm sickened by the people who vicariously get off on these things, who see such crimes as 'entertainment' safely viewed from a distance. There is no safe distance.

Being an introspective person, I study the psychopathology in myself - & rea
Sep 15, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: true-crime
Finally, finally, a book to answer my questions about Deal Corll and Elmer Wayne Henley. Revolting serial-killing case. Well-written and seems pretty complete, despite the many years that passed between the discovery of the bodies and the publication of the book. The victims' lives are conspicuously absent, I have to say.
Aurora Dimitre
I don't know how I feel about this book. On one hand, it was incredibly difficult to get through, not because it was poorly written, but because the author went in-depth on a lot of the victims--which I think, as a true crime perspective is interesting and good. Did make it sad though. On the other hand, this book has definitely suffered from the fact that it came out literally a year after the case happened. When this book came out, this case was fresh. And you can tell.

I would have liked to
Aug 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Four stars with a couple disclaimers - (1) I'm from Houston, live close to the Heights, and lived in Pasadena as a kid about the time the murders took place, so I have a strong interest in the subject matter. (2) This was written in 1974, sounds dated, and his racial terminology can be a little discomfiting.

Otherwise - if you have an interest, great true crime - especially because it was written so soon after the murders took place.
Jun 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Another Jack Olsen classic narrated by Kevin Pierce. Engaging, informative, suspenseful. 4 solid stars.
Greg R.
Sep 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What a hell of a book this was! My version is a 1974 printing, so I'm missing any new updates. However, being familiar enough with Dean Corll outside of this book, I'm surprised to see how little David Brooks is known of in 2017. By Jack Olsen's reporting, Brooks had just as large (if not larger) role as Wayne Henley, Jr as an accomplice during Corll's killings and obsessions yet Henley seems to have always taken the spotlight.
The first part of this book I felt dragged on and on about needless
Jul 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
Fascinating story. Olsen writes like a long-form journalist, exploring the facts while capturing emotion, both of which he does extremely well. My only quibble is that he comes across as condescending in his descriptions of his Texan subjects' lives and lifestyles. He frequently, but not always, phoenetically spells direct quotations in dialect, and it's tough to tell if he's doing so for character or his own bemusement. But that's a quibble. He solicted some extremely candid interviews from the ...more
Theresa Turner
Sep 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Excellent book..a well written true crime story by the talented writer Jack Olsen.. i gave a four star rating for brilliant true crime reporting .. So many boys from the same area called ''The Heights'' went missing and were later killed by Dean Corll and his two teenaged accomplices David Brooks and Elmer Wayne Henley..Jack Olsen really did his research while writing this book as much background imformation is given to the victims families as well as killers themselves .. The Houston Police fo ...more
May 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
I was lost at the beginning of this book until I realized that I was actually enjoying all the background information about the Houston area and how well that background information helped to lay the foundation for how ineffectual the local police were in even putting together that there was a larger crime going on. The book wrapped up with interesting opportunities for interpretation. On one hand, you want to say they blamed the right guy for the murders and his accomplices were punished proper ...more
Jun 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
i read a couple of books and watched a movie or two on this serial killer. since it happened around the time i was born, and most likely when my parents were starting to go to mcfaddin beach area (close to where i grew up), it was interesting to me. the lazy attention paid to missing children for days that led into the fear we live in today is fascinating. also, this killer had numbers that blew other killers away and Gacy admired him so much. very much a must read if you are from SE texas or ar ...more
Veronica Thomas-lee
Sep 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
this book shows how in any neighbourhood anywhere how a killer could stike out against a community , and that things are not what they seem. It also states how the police department let down these families when their sons went missing in the 70's , and how easy it for them to believe that kids do not die, but only run away. It also shows how the community and the neighourhood stood together after the murders where discovered.
Teresa Parker
Sep 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Serial Killer Disguised

The choice of the boys he took reminds me of the missing children in Atlanta, lower middle class to low income homes where often children are bored and roam the streets. Our society needs to do better in adding recreation departments for children to play and I feel some of our larger churches could also set up after school and summer programs.
susan lewandowski
Good book

This all happened during the time my husband was a teen in the Heights area, and Dean lived down the street from him. He asked my husband to go to a movie, my husband said no, and I'm sure glad he did, because my husband probably wouldn't be here today if things had gone another way.
Dara S.
I did not think this was as good as some of the other Olsen books.
Jul 17, 2017 rated it liked it
At this point a lot of true crime novels have made their way to my reading list, some of them have been phenomenal and others have been utter trash. The Man With The Candy was somewhere in the middle, and at different points it leaned more or less in one direction.

I enjoyed the layout of the story, it didn't feel rushed or strange and out of place while managing to cover a wide swathe of time. The people in the story felt mostly accessible, the average neighbors you'd expect in a small town in
Jul 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I did “enjoy” reading this book, although I don’t enjoy murder and death. This story of mass murders has always been one of the most horrifying cases that I’ve heard of. The main reason being the proximity to where I live. I tried to read the book many times but once I read about locations that are only blocks from my house I would stop reading. Finally I finished the book and it is a great book and put together nicely.

What I liked most about the book was how you could put a face and life with
Taylor Hensel
Apr 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Powerful, heartbreaking stuff. Once again, this was a book that I was pointed toward by the Last Podcast on the Left, who did a stunning four-part miniseries on Texan serial killer Dean Corll a few years back. Quite possibly one of the best books (certainly one of the best true crime books) I have ever read, the book gives fully realized and empathetic portrayals of not just the ferocious, despicable Corll, but also of the community which he turned into his own private hunting ground: the Height ...more
Oct 17, 2017 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
There was a lot of focus on the victims of Corll's murderous streak and I liked that a lot. They weren't quite my contemporaries, but the era in which they grew up was well within my memory. It didn't take much for my heart to go out to them or to their parents.

The stories of Corll's accomplices were awful too. This book is the first I've read about the murders, so I was unaware of the connections between Corll and the teenagers that helped him and then escaped his grasp. I'm pretty sure Henley
May 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Man with the Candy
: Jack Olsen

This audiobook tells the story of Dean Corrl/Elmer Wayne Henley and the disappearance and murders of a large number of young boys in Texas, in the 1970's. I don't remember hearing anything about these crimes when they happened. It was a sickening crime spree to say the least.

The narration was well done. The characters were well portrayed. Kevin Pierce did his usual outstanding job!!!

I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily l
May 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This case is well organized and thoroughly researched as far as it goes, but it occurred in the seventies, so there's no excuse for the lack of an outcome. Two confessions were made, but there's no mention of charges, convictions, sentences, or anything else beyond these confessions.

Kevin Pierce delivered his customary outstanding performance.

NOTE: I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.
Jul 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
The ending is especially sad. Checking back in with the parents of the killed boys and seeing how they coped with the news. That was heartbreaking. Also, Houston PD sucked during this whole ordeal (minus a few people). Such indifference.
May 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
This would be a 3.5. This was good but didn't seem to have the detail as some of his others. I'm used to deeper backgrounds from Jack Olsen. Maybe he just didn't have as much to work with. That being said, like all of his work, it's worth the read.
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