Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Bestial: The Savage Trail of a True American Monster” as Want to Read:
Bestial: The Savage Trail of a True American Monster
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Bestial: The Savage Trail of a True American Monster

3.7  ·  Rating details ·  721 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
From the author of 'Depraved' and 'Deviant', 'Bestial' is the dark journey into the mind of an unrepentant sadist. In the winter of 1926 Earle Leonard Nelson erupted into a 16 month long frenzy of savage rape, barbaric murder and blood lust.
Paperback, 368 pages
Published February 24th 2004 by Pocket Star Books (first published 1998)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Bestial, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Bestial

Community Reviews

(showing 1-10)
Rating details
Sort: Default
May 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Harold Schechter is quite a writer. His research is awe-inspiring and the way he can turn a tale told by an outside narrator while cuing the reader as to the times of the era that he's writing about is truly a gift. He spends very little time on the setting up the scene and this makes the read more enjoyable while moving the story along. He can transform the view of the reader from the current times to a time most know very little about. Schechter makes the reader think about not just the serial ...more
May 06, 2013 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Sickos like me
A serial killer in the 20s who killed a lot of women, mostly landladies. It's beautifully researched but sadly not that interesting because he's no Ted Bundy; he's more in the retarded / head injury / bipolar mode. Why did he kill? Who the hell knows. His MO was to go to houses displaying a "room to let" sign, strangle the landlady as she showed him the room, then rape her, and shove the body into a closet or under the bed. He started in San Francisco and San Jose (which was interesting for me b ...more
Sep 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed Harold Schechter's writing style. The John Douglas books are just packed with facts and insights which no one seems to be able to equal and on the other end of the spectrum is Truman Capote's In Cold Blood which reads like a novel and could be the best True Crime book ever. Schechter is a very good mix of the two. Considering, first, the time period it happened. It was long ago and being able to get together the facts and make it interesting for the reader is a gift. Secondly, N ...more
Mar 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
I love how Schechter ties historical events into his stories. You can learn about history while enjoying a fascinating true crime tale.
Jul 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really good read

This isn't a trashy rehash. It is a very well researched true crime book. The book is readable and really flows. It's a great weekend read, and an interesting insight into the 1920s in the U.S. and Canada.
May 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Three stars only because I'm a weirdo and really wanted it to be more graphic. Interesting read though.
Theremin Poisoning
May 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Creepy. He's like the Ted Bundy of 1926...
3.5 stars:

Four years ago, if you had asked me whether or not I'd enjoy reading books about serial killers, I'd have said no. There's a big difference between reading horror, and knowing it's fiction, and reading about the suffering of a real person. But it's really not very different from reading any other non-fiction story where someone suffers or dies. It caught me by surprise when I read The Devil in the White City. The 'Death Castle' of H.H. Holmes intrigued me, so I read Schechter's Deprave
Feb 25, 2015 rated it liked it
1. I have never read a true crime book by Schechter before, but will consider reading more books by him.
2. I have never heard of Earle Nelson, "The Gorilla Man" or any of his crimes. After reading this very informative book, I come to 2 conclusions...1. I don't think he committed all the murders attributed to him, some were just so not right...can't really explain it, just, it didn't fit..and 2. Ted Bundy studied him, because he very much copied Earle, the bludgeoning, strangling and raping afte
Robert Miller
Mar 04, 2014 rated it liked it
The author painstakingly logs the murders of 22 victims (all women except one) occurring from February 20th, 1926 to June 10th, 1927. He tracks the killer's movements from Northern California, Washington, Iowa, Missouri, Pennsylvania, New York, Michigan, Illinois, and finally, Winnipeg in Canada. The women, for the most part, are seeking renters to supplement their income during troubled economic times. Once safely inside the rooms he rented, he strangles them and inflicts brute and lethal blows ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Cannibal: The True Story Behind the Maneater of Rotenburg
  • Lethal Marriage: The Unspeakable Crimes of Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka
  • A Death in White Bear Lake: The True Chronicle of an All-American Town
  • Erased: Missing Women, Murdered Wives
  • Cellar of Horror: The Story of Gary Heidnik
  • The Darkest Night: The Murder of Innocence in a Small Town
  • The Road Out of Hell: Sanford Clark and the True Story of the Wineville Murders
  • The Boy in the Box: The Unsolved Case Of America's Unknown Child
  • Bad Boy: The True Story of Kenneth Allen McDuff, the Most Notorious Serial Killer in Texas History
  • Invisible Darkness
  • The Italian Boy: A Tale of Murder and Body Snatching in 1830s London
  • Cruel Deception
  • The Devil's Rooming House: The True Story of America's Deadliest Female Serial Killer
  • A Beautiful Child
  • Hunting the Devil: The Pursuit, Capture and Confession of the Most Savage Serial Killer in History
  • The Complete Jack the Ripper
  • Doc: The Rape of the Town of Lovell
  • Female Serial Killers: How and Why Women Become Monsters
Aka Jon A. Harrald (joint pseudonym with Jonna Gormley Semeiks)

Harold Schechter is a true crime writer who specializes in serial killers. He attended the State University of New York in Buffalo, where he obtained a Ph.D. A resident of New York City, Schechter is professor of American literature and popular culture at Queens College of the City University of New York.

Among his nonfiction works are
More about Harold Schechter...
“The wayward morality of the country’s “flaming youth” was blamed, at least in part, on their easy access to enclosed automobiles, which one outraged critic described as “bordellos on wheels.” 1 likes
“In America, the advent of the modern serial killer coincided absolutely with the coming of the automobile.” 1 likes
More quotes…