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House of Horrors: The Shocking True Story of Anthony Sowell, The Cleveland Strangler
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House of Horrors: The Shocking True Story of Anthony Sowell, The Cleveland Strangler

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  164 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
11 Vulnerable Women...One Charming Predator

To his neighbors, Anthony Sowell was a friendly and helpful former Marine who played chess and hosted summer barbeques. But they didn't know about his dark side -- or the gruesome secret inside his house.

Sowell's secret life was exposed to the nation on Oct. 29, 2009 when a Cleveland Police SWAT team entered his house to arrest h
Paperback, 216 pages
Published October 29th 2012 by Kent State University Press (first published January 1st 2012)
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Feb 01, 2013 rated it did not like it
This was interesting only in that I enjoy true crime stories. The story itself was disturbingly fascinating, but the book itself was lengthy and often repetitive. I actually quit reading 240 pages before the end, because the author was basically repeating facts from previous chapters and essentially recapping every conversation in the courtroom. I found it repetitive and dry with the only good points being statements from friends and families of the victims.
Oct 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: true-crime
This book made me so heartsick that I had to take a break from reading it for a while before I could finish. I learned more about the victims, more about their relationships to each other, and above all more about the timeline of events, filling in gaps I didn't know existed after reading Nobody's Women: The Crimes and Victims of Anthony Sowell, the Cleveland Serial Killer. The author was able to get farther into the nooks and crannies of the story than I dared to hope. Both the books I've read ...more
Mary Thoms
Dec 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A great read for true crime fans. For me, the author did an amazing job of maintaining objectivity and restraint in depicting the gruesome crimes of Anthony Sowell. We learn about the lives of Sowell's 11 victims, and the factors that led to their interactions with him, and their tragic fates, but the book doesn't rely on sensationalism. What I liked most was the weaving of the victims' lives with the life of Sowell. While we can never understand what drives a serial killer, this book sheds some ...more
Jan 11, 2013 marked it as to-read
Shelves: first-reads
"*** I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads ***
** The Giveaway was Listed By Robert **
* I received my copy on Wed Jan 16, 2013 *

Gena Koehler
Jan 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: true-crime
A detailed and well researched account of the horrors of Anthony Sowell. One of the best true crime books I have read.
Charmaine Elliott
Jun 17, 2017 rated it liked it
A documentary. Yes indeed the author spent 3 years excavating facts to report. The result is probably a faithful account. Accuracy unfortunately seems to have won over creativity, imagination and insight. Would have preferred less pedantic timelInes and more commentary around the man's psyche, personality, motives etc. So many themes and incongruent events went unexplored. Cleanliness vs filth. Functional vs dysfunctional behavior. Family membership vs isolation etc. etc.
Oct 13, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: true-crime
This is a thoroughly written and informative book. This is a true crime book, so its based on facts, making the read a little intense at times. Some could learn a thing or two from reading this book. I have a degree in Psychology, and though I don't use it as those who set out in the field, I find having studied the mind caused me to stop being surprised by human behavior long ago.
Tyson E. Dewsnup
Oct 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Very interesting, comprehensive story. But, it was quite redundant in several areas. I kept looking back to see if I'd read that part before.
Jasmin Danielle
Nov 02, 2017 rated it did not like it
The book repeated itself a lot which made this an annoying read
Mar 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
Captivating horrific story well researched and well written by the author. I have read so many of these true crime books and it just boggles my mind how long killers like this can continue to apply their trade and no one puts two and two together. Why does his home smell like dead rotting carcasses? Must be the clean, well run sausage plant down the street that neighbors never complained about until he moved in. How many neighbors have to be seen visiting with this guy just before they disappear ...more
Chuck Thomas
Mar 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Robert Sberna provides a well researched and very detailed book about Anthony Sowell and the rapes and murders he committed at his home at 12205 Imperial Avenue, in Cleveland's Mount Pleasant neighborhood. If you enjoy reading true crime books, you will enjoy this one. But be warned, often times the book goes into graphic detail about the sexual assaults that occurred. If you can stomach those details, you'll be fine. In my opinion, I think Sberna had to include those details because it gives th ...more
Geneva C. Elkins
Addicted women treated with decency. Story well told and researched well

This book really fascinated me. As one reviewer bluntly stated "drugs!!!" I certainly have to agree. As a recovered alcoholic/addict for 11 years and not a psychiatrist, my lowly opinion is Sowell was eaten up with resentment and his brain by drugs. Most people cannot fathom the intense soul sickness of addiction which is the root of addiction. From the stories of his childhood to his time in the marines, he sought no help a
Nov 12, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: true-crime
This book was a good look into Anthony Sowell's crimes. It gave life to the victims and the awful reality of drugs and life in the poor community of Cleveland. The author did a good job explaining how the victims found themselves involved with Anthony Sowell. The case was thoroughly researched using tools ranging from court documents to interviews with friends and family from both the perpetrator and the victim. I gave this book three starts only because the story itself is gripping and disturbi ...more
Claudia Taller
Feb 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
I never read true crime. I didn’t want to know what happened in the house on Imperial Avenue in Cleveland. Despite my reluctance to read the book, once I started reading House of Horrors, The Shocking True Story of Anthony Sowell, the Cleveland Strangler by Robert Sberna, I felt I was in good hands as a reader. I trusted the narrator’s voice. Intelligent and thoughtful reporting, good word choices, and the experience of discovering the story with the author make for a good true crime book. It to ...more
Jan 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
What is most interesting about serial murder Anthony Sowell is not so much the man himself, but rather the setting that allowed him to terrorize one of the most vulnerable cohorts of our soceity for so long. Author Bob Sberna is extremely respectful and comprehensive, without being overly sympathetic, as he examines each victim, all poor african american women, often struggling with addition. Why police and human services agencies allowed someone with a long sorted history of violence against wo ...more
David Lemoyne
Jun 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I'm not going to write an official review. But after reading the book, I was inclined to hop on here and voice my opinion of it.
I have been researching the Sowell story ever since it started.
Mr. Sberna has done an excellent job of compiling all of the available information as well as the information from his interviews with Sowell.

The book is an extremely easy read. I bought it one afternoon and had it finished by lunch the next day. Total time reading the book was about 3-4 hours.

If you like tr
Ronnie Cramer
Jul 27, 2015 rated it it was ok
An interesting book, though it gets repetitive at times and the author mixes past and present tense throughout (often on the same page). Police in Cleveland were criticized for not investigating more aggressively (which is probably true), but there's plenty of blame to go around. Neighbors incorrectly assumed that a local sausage factory was responsible for the stench in the area (of course it was actually decomposing bodies in the killer's house); several women were attacked but escaped, then d ...more
John Ferak
Jun 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
House of Horrors is a compelling read, and it's told very matter of factly by Robert Sberna, a talented and experienced investigative journalist who knows Cleveland inside and out.

When you read House of Horrors, you will get the eerie feeling like you are standing on Imperial Avenue back in October 2009, when all of the badly decomposed bodies were discovered on Anthony Sowell's property.

House of Horrors is a definite must read for fans of true-crime. I highly recommend that you read this book.
Dec 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
House of Horrors is a well-written and detailed account of one of the most gruesome events in Cleveland's history -- the murders of 11 women by Anthony Sowell. The author provides an abundance of personal details and graphic descriptions of Sowell and his victims, which draws the reader into the narrative. The photos in the book, including pictures of the house where the attacks occurred, as well as the photos of the 11 women lend a compelling realism.
The book includes copies of prison letters
Dec 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I have to admit that I did not know anything about Anthony Sowell and his crimes; however, after I read this book, I felt as if I had received the true, comprehensive story of the killer, his victims, the community and the court case. The author did a wonderful job covering every aspect of this terrible episode in Cleveland's history. I take my hat off to the author for his well-written and researched book.
Faye Oney
The story of Anthony Sowell is a modern day horror story. Instead of sensationalizing the events portrayed in the media, Robert Sberna wrote the book from the victims' perspective. This is a compelling story of how one man preyed on women who had no loved ones to speak for them. Sberna also delves into the mind of Anthony Sowell, and we learn how his dysfunctional childhood contributed to his criminal behavior. This is a must-read for anyone interested in true crime stories.
Tom Schulte
The crimes of this disgusting serial killer - living among the rotting corpses of his victims and the attracted insects - are deeply described and researched. This ends up being an exemplar of the killer that plies his trade over years because his victims are already ostracized by society: largely transient black women addicted to crack. The book goes all the way to Sowell's conviction and imprisonment.
Katie Hoffman
Dec 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
I've been a fan of true crime for awhile. This read true to a Buglosian style of objectivity. Sadly these crimes were completely preventable, ignored, and overlooked let alone completely senseless. I'll be moving onto lighter reading for awhile - there are no heros in this story. Except the woman who ultimately reported him - she deserves a huge medal.
Jim Flora
May 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Very good overview of a sad, important case. Sberna is committed to providing a clear-eyed, well-rounded assessment of the case. His explorations of the lives of the victims show great compassion, while also refusing to gloss over flaws. Overall, a very good true crime book.
Sep 12, 2015 rated it it was ok
Not sure why I decided to try reading this. Didn't make it all the way through. Why does Ohio have so many serial killers anyway?
Jul 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
A pretty good book with many details about the cases and the criminal profile , i wonder why all the serial killers come from Ohio
Maybe the audiobook is not meant to be listened to in one setting, but I found it repetitive - both in facts and in some cases entire sentences repeated.
Kyle LaPorte
Jan 11, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2017
Badly written.
Paul Garcia
Jan 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Horrifying crime story, the telling of which loses steam as it goes along. The writing at times is flat and the reporting of the details of the crimes become repetitive.
rated it liked it
Feb 05, 2013
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I'm a journalist based in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. I started my career covering the police and court beats for newspapers in the Midwest. Since 2000, I've contributed articles to a wide variety of publications, including the Washington Examiner, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Crain's, Ohio Magazine, and Neoconomist.

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