Book Review – The Scarlet Mansion by Allan Eckert

   Title:  The Scarlet Mansion

Author:  Allan Eckert

ISBN:  9780553259254

Publisher:  Bantam


Summary (from  A novel based on the life of Herman Mudgett, alias Dr. Henry H. Holmes, one of the most notorious serial killers of all time, who, before the turn of the century, murdered no less than 133 people. A fascinating view of this dangerous person from the time of his first murder, when he is only 12 years old, to his adult years when he has built a huge, 105-room mansion in Chicago, with most of the space devoted to chambers for torture and death. For many years he has a partner in crime named Ben, but when Ben dies under mysterious and very suspicious circumstances, Philadelphia police detective Frank Geyer is assigned to the case and doggedly sets out to track down the serial killer. As Mudgett/Holmes flees, taking with him Ben’s wife and children, it becomes a race to see if Detective Geyer can apprehend him before he kills the other members of Ben’s family.

My thoughts:  One of the first words that comes to mind when I think about this book is “WOW!”  I have read many a psychological thriller, serial killer novel, and the occasional true crime thriller in the past, but this one literally made my jaw drop.  I found myself frequently turning back a page and saying to myself, “He just did what!”  This book chronicles the famous serial killer,  Herman Mudgett, in Chicago during the early 1900’s. The words brutal, sick, and twisted don’t even cover this guy’s hundreds of murders.

I found the book particulary interesting and frightening as I live in the greater Chicago area and recognize a number of the places he describes including one of his houses in Wilmette, Illinois which I drive through every day to get to work.  BOO!  SCARY!  Overall, the book is quite long, rather dense, and takes a bit of a committment to read.  It can be a bit confusing as it tracks his many, many aliases and frequent travels.  As a lover of psychological thrillers, I thought it was worth the read.   If you love a good true crime book, this is the book for you.  However, I must warn you that the book is very descriptive and doesn’t beat around the bush when it comes to describing the murders.  It isn’t overly graphic or brutal, but it isn’t a Disney book either 🙂

I thought the author of this book did a fantastic job of researching this man’s complex history and pattern of murders.

As a note, the book “The Devil in the White City” by Erik Larson talks further about Henry Mudgett, aka Dr. Henry Holmes, and how he lured his victims to their deaths during the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago.  Soon to be a major motion picture release starring Leonardo DiCaprio!

And remember,

Books Are Life,




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Filed under Book Reviews, Mystery, Thriller

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