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This is my first review of a book on Amazon and one worth writing about. Prior to reading BLOODSTAINS, I had read pretty much everything in print on the subject of H.H. Holmes from the all-around excellent DEPRAVED and THE TORTURE DOCTOR to the widely read DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY to lesser known works such as those compiled in THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. H.H. HOLMES, including the actual prison confession of H.H. Holmes and his "autobiography." I also read every old newspaper clipping I could find online.
Once you get started, it's next to impossible not to venture down the rabbit hole of this little known piece of U.S. history.
Naturally, when I heard that a real-life descendent of Herman Webster Mudgett (H.H. Holmes was one of many aliases) was writing a book about his inheritance of the killer's diaries I was simultaneously astonished and deeply skeptical. History says Holmes was hung in 1896, so when did he write these diaries? And why?
As all of the above mentioned works illustrate, there's a lot of holes in the documented story of "America's first serial killer." The recorded history of Holmes is as shrouded in mystery and ambiguity as the man himself. Discovering the TRUTH of who he was and why he did what he did was the object of blind speculation during his own time with the sensationalistic reporting of newspapers during the advent of yellow journalism. If discerning fact from fiction back then was difficult, the passage of time has only served to muddy the waters.
* Was Holmes simply demented and mad with bloodlust or were there possibly a hidden genius and a private scientific pursuit behind the odd construction of his murder castle?Read more ›
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This is a must read book!!! "Bloodstains" is one of the most chilling and riveting books written about notorious serial killer Dr. H.H. Holmes that I have ever read. In fact, it may just be the most uniquely written book on the subject matter. The premise that author Jeff Mudgett inherited personal diaries that he discovered belonged to the serial killer while being unaware of his ancestral relationship to Holmes makes for a thoroughly captivating tale. The chapter where the author learns at a family dinner that H.H. Holmes is his great-great-grandfather is indescribable. The author says that it was like, "Mr. Hyde and Dracula rolled up into one convenient ball, bouncing up after all these years right onto the family's front porch. They had gone from wanting to be related to Civil War General Robert E. Lee to having the distinct lineage of Jack the Ripper." Author Jeff Mudgett's gripping and mesmerizing writing style makes this story a real page turner. It's a real credit to the author. He uses his ingenuity in masterfully placing a true story within a heightened dramatic context. The author's journey is like a harrowing descent into a dark and demented rabbit hole. Jeff Mudgett's search for the truth is a thrill of a lifetime. It is a book you will never forget. You almost feel as if the author is hypnotizing as he pulls you deeper and deeper into this twisted and sordid tale. It is not unlike how H.H. Holmes hypnotized his victims placing them under his spell before torturing and murdering them in his castle. And, that's what makes "Bloodstains" so utterly frightening and overwhelmingly compelling. It makes you feel as though Holmes has lived on within the author. It is like the monster has reached out to us from beyond the grave, using his great-great-grandson as his instrument.Read more ›
Let us say, as one reviewer posits, that the story as told of Jeff Mudgett's Great-Great Grandfather, H.H. Holmes, is pure fiction. "Bloodstains" still holds up as a compelling story well told. The fight between good and evil and the battle to overcome that which exists in all of us forces readers to connect with their own evil potential. And isn't that self discovery, that ability to relate, the basis for most good books?
In "Bloodstains" we follow a man in search of his ancestor whose journal he inherits from his Grandfather, Bert, whom he hates. Was this one last whack on the head from the old geezer whom he disrespectfully calls 'Uncle'? Or was it something else? Was Bert Mudgett trying to tell his Grandson, Jeff, in death what he could not mention in life? Does unraveling the mystery of the journal have an unexpected final result? Is there a final gift from his "Uncle" cum Grandfather not the journal but the journey? Was it a profound act of love and sacrifice or a dirty trick?
This portrait of yet another charming and socially adept serial killer makes one wonder, do we really know the people around us? Can we really rely on our own instincts to protect us from those truly bent on evil? Read "Bloodstains" and you will never trust your delightful neighbor again. Yes, this simple book forces the reader to ask themselves uncomfortable questions, see their reality through different eyes.
Let us believe that "Bloodstains" is, in fact, true. We are left with a disturbing tale of a notorious serial killer, perhaps America's first to be recognized as such, and offered a glimpse into his world. We are teased with segments from the actual, verified journals of H.H.Read more ›