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The Beast of Chicago: An Account of the Life and Crimes of Herman W. Mudgett, Known to the World As H.H. Holmes
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The Beast of Chicago: An Account of the Life and Crimes of Herman W. Mudgett, Known to the World As H.H. Holmes

(Treasury of Victorian Murder)

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  610 ratings  ·  89 reviews
He was the world's first serial killer and he existed in the late 19th century, operating around the Chicago World's Fair, building a literal house of horrors, replete with chutes for dead bodies, gas chambers, surgical rooms. He methodically murdered up to 200 people, mostly young women. The infamous H.H. Holmes is the next subject of Geary's award-winning and increasingl ...more
Hardcover, 80 pages
Published August 1st 2003 by ComicsLit (first published 2003)
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Average rating 3.85  · 
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 ·  610 ratings  ·  89 reviews


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Start your review of The Beast of Chicago: An Account of the Life and Crimes of Herman W. Mudgett, Known to the World As H.H. Holmes
Jan Philipzig
Sep 19, 2014 rated it liked it
Of all the Victorian Murder volumes I've read, this is the one most focused on the actual murder case, rather than its broader historical context. To be sure, historical accuracy is as important to Geary here as ever, and the book's rigid visual style does a great job evoking the period's more traditional mindset and slower pace. Still, the spotlight is on the macabre details of the protagonist's meticulously planned, increasingly deranged activities--an approach that makes The Beast of Chicago a more typica ...more
David Schaafsma
So I have finally read one of Geary's true crime Victorian murder graphic novels, about Holmes, who killed at least 27 people, here in my Chicago, and got more famous thanks to Larson's The Devil in the White City. Careful researched, meticulously drawn pen and ink. He has a style he seems to keep for all of his work, I note at a glance. We don't get very inside the story or the man, feels detached, almost clinical, like a YA level introduction to the story, just the facts, and it's not really v ...more
Sam Quixote
Jul 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is the case of H H Holmes, the "Beast of Chicago". Told succinctly but thoroughly and always clearly, despite the often complicated situations Holmes created, Geary has written a highly engaging book on the man labelled as "America's first serial killer".

H H Holmes scammed insurance companies to raise enough money to build his own hotel labelled by locals, "the castle". He hired different companies to build different parts of his hotel with the overall scheme of the building known only to
...more
Dov Zeller
I love Rick Geary's tales of murder. I learn not only about the criminals but also about the time and the place. He does a great job of contextualizing and in this one we meet Herman Mudgett aka H.H. Holmes (just one of many names this one used to swindle and chop) right around the time of the Chicago world's fair of 1893. Geary never sensationalizes (though I suppose there is no need to given his subject matter) and he always draws the architecture of the times with great care. His books have a ...more
Lindsay♫SingerOfStories♫
This book is exactly as the title promises: An account of the life and crimes of...H.H. Holmes. In case you don't know, H.H. Holmes is known as America's first serial killer. I first became interested in him when I was in college and living in Chicago, where Holmes built his "murder castle" during the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago.

So basically I already knew the story of Holmes but now in graphic novel form? Exciting! I sat down to read the story of the man and his grisly crimes. Indeed, the cri
...more
Susan
Feb 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
It's hard to say which is creepier...Erik Larson's Devil in the White City juxtaposition of the Chicago's World's Fair construction with the construction of Herman W. Mudgett's (a.k.a. H.H. Holmes)murder factory in Englewood, or Rick Geary's collection of Victorian picture postcard-esque illustrations accounting Mudgett's infamous deeds. Geary does not attempt to embroider or bridge in the accompanying text the same way that Larson does, and what results is a chillingly matter-of-fact chronology of ...more
Sara Tantlinger
May 15, 2019 rated it liked it
A cool concept overall if you’re into knowing more about H.H. Holmes. The facts are pretty straightforward and flow well. The graphics are fairly simple, but work well with the narrative and contain some interesting details. I think this concept could have been a little more exciting either with the info or the imagery, but I did enjoy it overall.
Jace
Mar 24, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: comics
I first learned about H. H. Holmes from an old edition of "The TIME/LIFE Book of Serial Killers" that my roommate got at a garage sale. (Yes, there really is such a book--go look it up on eBay.) Holmes' crimes are interesting for a few reasons: he was the first documented serial killer, his methods were extremely elaborate, and he operated for a long time without drawing suspicion or getting caught. For anyone looking for a basic account of Holmes' atrocities, this graphic novel is an entertaini ...more
Jess
Oct 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Well after loving Rick Geary's interpretation of Lizzie Borden's tale, I was eager to seek out more of his Victorian murder mysteries. Despite remaining unsolved, the Borden murders were finite and the mystery around them contained to a handful of players in Fall River. Holmes's story stretches across the Northeast and Midwest, traveling from Chicago to Toronto to Boston. Holmes confused to murdering 27 people (though he later recounted this confession), but he was tied to the disappearance of m ...more
David
Aug 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Rick Geary's Treasury of Victorian Murder series is so meticulously well-done, it's hard to imagine treating the subjects any other way. The distinctive inking style and attention to detail seems to highlight the horror of the events the series covers, while at the same time affording a sober look at the banality of evil. This volume, dealing with H.H. Holmes, now generally regarded as America's first serial killer, is a particularly fine example of Geary's singular obsession. Although it suffer ...more
Allie
Another fun (well not fun but entertaining. You know what I mean.) historical murder from Rick Geary, and certainly a much faster read than The Devil in the White City. Is it weird that I wanted more of the grizzly details?
Daniel A.
"[H.H.] Holmes is generally thought to be America's first serial killer. Rather, he was the first American to be caught and convicted for having committed multiple murders over a period of time. Surely others went before him whose crimes remain, as yet, unrecognized."—from author Rick Geary's introduction


"[H.H.] Holmes is generally thought to be America's first serial killer. Rather, he was the first American to be caught and convicted for having committed multiple murders over a period of time. Surely others went before him whose crimes remain, as yet, unrecognized."—from author Rick Geary's introduction


The Beast of Chicago: An Account of the Life and Crimes of Herman W. Mudgett, Known to the World As H.H. Holmes is yet another in a line of excellent true-crime graphic novels by Rick Geary; in fact, it may well be the best I've read so far.

Most of what I've said about volumes in these lines that I've previously read applies here as well; however, what really stood out about The Beast of Chicago was the palpable tone of menace and dread throughout Geary's narrative; perhaps fitting for the subject matter—serial killer H.H. Holmes, a man whose murders were so chilling, particularly for the era in which they occurred (or, more accurately, were sensationalized), that they've made for multiple bestselling nonfiction narratives, more about which below—Geary's own narrative focuses less on the historical context of Holmes'/Mudgett's crimes as the crimes themselves. Geary (obviously) didn't have access to Erik Larson's award-winning The Devil in the White City, much less Adam Selzer's later H.H. Holmes, the latter of which perhaps definitively contextualizes the subject matter (as well as, apparently, strips the 19th-century narrative of much of the misinformation and sensationalism that surrounded the case heretofore), but the sources Geary does use seem to have been pretty much definitive insofar as Geary's narrative seems exhaustive vis-à-vis what information was available. It's also the more ancillary details in The Beast of Chicago that make the book so compelling, most notably among them the oblique references to the corruption that has continually plagued the city, as well as some basic information regarding the World Columbian Exhibition of 1893 that provided the means and opportunity for Holmes' spree.

Geary has carved out something of a niche for himself of nonfiction graphic narratives with simultaneously cartoonish and realistic artwork, as well as an inimitable narrative voice that excellently captures the context of the story, as well as the story itself. As I said above, The Beast of Chicago is, so far, the best of Geary's true-crime graphic novels I've read; as always, Geary provides an excellent, brief introduction to the subject matter—and provides the sources to delve further. A smashing book.
...more
Scott Southerland
May 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
I chose to read The Beast of Chicago: An Account of the Life and Crimes of Herman W. Mudgett, Known to the World As H.H. Holmes because I have read Devil in the White City by Erik Larson and wanted to see how well the graphic novel held up to it's actual novel inspiration. Actually I'm not sure that the novel inspired the graphic novel as they both came out in the same year, but I assume the graphic novel was based on the novel.

The graphic novel does do a very good job conveying the information
...more
StrictlySequential
He was the creepiest of all serial killers. You will find out why when you read this.

Killers that do it for years with the insane motives that drive them interest me so much because I cannot even begin to understand how their minds work which make them far scarier than fiction could possibly achieve- no matter how twisted! I had known about Mudge from a documentary that included Carl Panzram- someone I wish Geary (or anybody near his talent) did a graphic novel on! His story is blurry from being s
...more
Audrey Grunwaldt
Jan 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
The Beast of Chicago, by Rick Gary
ComicsLit, 80 pages,
August 1st 2003

The Beast of Chicago was very interesting to read, it tells about how he grew up and of who he killed, where he did it, and how he did it. He was a very smart murderer and it surprised me how many people he deceived and tricked and for how long he did it. He was a strategic psychopath and was the best at what he did.

I really liked this book. I like the way its written, it tells you the main j
...more
Amanda
Oct 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'm intrigued by the fact that people, myself included, are so enamored with these gruesome stories. Is it our desire for horror and the macabre? Is it the need for those sensational stories that invite suspense and terror and the unexplainable into our lives? Perhaps a blend of both?

I was familiar with the story of H.H. Holmes and his life of lies, infidelity, destruction, and death, however, I did learn even more from Geary's account. I can't say that I'm a huge fan of the artwork.
...more
Samantha
I loved the idea of this book. A graphic novel depicting the life and crimes of one of America’s first serial killers?! I’m in!
Unfortunately this book has too many errors in historical knowledge for me to actually love this book. I would’ve liked the author to more thoroughly research his subject because some of the information is glaringly inaccurate for those who have studied Holmes and the Fair of 1893. If the facts had been correct my rating would’ve been higher. Again great concept, bad im
...more
Ian Coutts
Dec 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Scary and effectively drawn tale of H.H. Holmes, the man frequently referred to as "America's first serial killer." Geary's style suits the Victorian era, and I was fascinated that Holmes, someone I always associated with Chicago also had a Toronto connection.. Holmes remains an enigmatic figure at the end of this fast little read, but that isn't Geary's fault. He had to work with the historical record, and I suspect that people in those days were less concerned with figuring out the motives of ...more
Michael Brown
Jan 09, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: series-reading
Graphic afternoon at the library. The book City of Lights presents the contrast between the efforts to build the Chicago World's Fair and the mystery of the missing visitors. This graphic tale centers on the serial killer and his many little plots and efforts to raise funds and kill those he has targeted. So while the novel jumps from venue to venue we get here a steady presentation of the Castle of Death and the man who murders for fun.
Ted
Jun 04, 2017 rated it it was ok
I'm surprised that no other reviewer here has noted that Gerard writes that the murder trial of Holmes was held on 28 October 1895 and he was subsequently hanged on 7 May 1895. Hanged five months before his trial? That was fast justice!
Noninuna
3.5 stars

I am familiar with this case and nothing much that I able to learn from this graphic nonfiction. However, the story about H.H.Holmes was presented in the simplest way that for someone who're new to this monster, they would able to follow.

Andrea
Jul 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really liked this one. I liked how it had all the diagrams of the Murder Castle. I would have liked more info on the building itself, but with how short the book is overall, I can see how that could have been a book in and of itself.
Laurie
Mar 20, 2019 rated it it was ok
Interesting, but not my fav. The illustrations were just okay and there wasn't much of a "story." More like, this happened, then this, then that. And then it just ended super abruptly. I mean, I learned some things I didn't know, so sure, but it was just ok overall.
Emily
Jul 01, 2017 rated it liked it
sweet little graphic novel about murder most foul.
Sarah Starkiller
Jul 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Enjoyable enough but not the best.
Lisa Kizer
Apr 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
And thank you for not drawing all the gory details of his time at the castle. I do not want to imagine much less "see" what happened to the poor souls that died there.
Jamie
Jul 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great graphic novel depiction of serial killer H. H. Holmes. If you are into such things that is.
Angie
Mar 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
Read this along with The Devil in the White City.
Sahara Knapp
Dec 01, 2017 rated it liked it
The Beast of Chicago:

The book takes place in Chicago. The point of view is 3rd person. The major characters are H.H Holmes. The central conflict is that H.H Holmes moves to Chicago and buys a apartment building from an old lady and turns it into a murder hotel. With various trap doors, secret hallways and holes in the floor big enough to fit a body into, H.H Holmes becomes America's first serial killer.

I think that the author did prove his point by listing all of the fact
...more
Tary
Feb 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Love Rick Geary's Treasury series. They're so detailed, descriptive, and well drawn and there's always those elements of the unknown mysteries where historically there is no answer. These books always make me want to uncover and learn/read more about the real cases/people. Only criticism is I wish Geary could have given us a drawing of the house as a whole to get a better idea of what it was and looked like as a whole but I understand that the house no longer exists and no plans were ever kept-- ...more
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RICK GEARY was born in 1946 in Kansas City, Missouri and grew up in Wichita,
Kansas. He graduated from the University of Kansas in Lawrence, where his first cartoons were published in the University Daily Kansan. He worked as staff artist for two weekly papers in Wichita before moving to San Diego in 1975.

He began work in comics in 1977 and was for thirteen years a contributor to
...more

Other books in the series

Treasury of Victorian Murder (9 books)
  • The Borden Tragedy: A Memoir of the Infamous Double Murder at Fall River, Mass. 1892 (A Treasury of Victorian Murder)
  • Jack the Ripper: A Journal of the Whitechapel Murders 1888-1889
  • The Fatal Bullet: The Assassination of James A. Garfield
  • The Mystery of Mary Rogers
  • The Murder of Abraham Lincoln
  • The Case of Madeleine Smith (A Treasury Of Victorian Murder)
  • The Saga of the Bloody Benders
  • A Treasury of Victorian Murder