Serial-killer biographer and mystery novelist Schechter’s compendium on the perpetually fascinating subject that is his stock-in-trade is enhanced by such browser-friendly features as recommended reading lists and sidebars recurring (e.g., “Death Fun Fact”—plenty of those) and singular (“Going Out Viking Style”), not to mention waggish, Gorey-esque illustrations. Useful facts and distinctions abound; for instance, the necrophilia section informs readers of the need to distinguish “necrophiliac homicide”—murder committed for the purpose of having sex with the corpse—from “regular necrophilia,” that being the “more socially acceptable” sex with corpses, the case cited being that of “a female embalmer who had sexual intercourse with 20–40 male corpses.” For the practical minded, Schechter mentions a Web site enabling devotees of life planning to preview epigraph options by creating virtual tombstones, and in “Corpse-napping: Ransoming the Dead,” he assesses the chances of success in that grisly enterprise. Do-it-yourself features include “You, Too, Can Be a Mummy (and So Can Fido)” and a how-to guide to “Victorian Postmortem Photography.” An entertaining if occasionally grim popular reference. --Mike Tribby
About the Author
Harold Schechter is a professor of American literature and culture at Queens College, the City University of New York. He is widely celebrated for both fiction and true-crime writing, including The Devil's Gentleman
and The Serial Killer Files
. He lives in Brooklyn and Mattituck, Long Island, with his wife, the poet Kimiko Hahn.