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Deviant: The Shocking True Story of Ed Gein, the Original Psycho Paperback – October 1, 1998
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Harold Schechter is a historian: he takes old files and yellowed newspaper clippings, and brings their stories to life. Deviant is about everyone's favorite ghoul, Ed Gein--whose crimes inspired the writers of Psycho, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and The Silence of the Lambs. Schechter deftly evokes the small-town 1950s Wisconsin setting--not pretty farms and cheese factories, but infertile soil and a bleak, hardscrabble existence. The details of Gein's "death house" are perhaps well known by now, but the murderer's quietly crazy, almost gentle personality comes forth in this book as never before. As Gary Kadet wrote, in The Boston Book Review, "Schechter is a dogged researcher [who backs up] every bizarre detail and curious twist in this and his other books ... More importantly, he nimbly avoids miring his writing and our reading with minutiae or researched overstatement, which means that although he can occasionally be dry, he is never boring."
Also recommended: Schechter's books about Albert Fish (Deranged) and Herman Mudgett a.k.a. Dr. H. H. Holmes (Depraved).
"Top-drawer true crime."
Top customer reviews
Gein was an unlikely killer, a simpleton with a mother complex but also someone who hid his crimes in plain sight. His ability to function more or less normally in the American heartland at the same time he was committing horrific crimes occupies a significant portion of this book, and the examination of how he succeeded and how he ultimately got caught is riveting and well-done.
One of my college professors opined that what made Victor Frankenstein's creature a monster in our imaginations is the fact that he has no — and will never have any — human connections. With the exception of his cruelly overbearing mother, who may, indeed, have been Victor to Ed's monster, Ed Gein had no meaningful human connections. That he sought such connections in the grisly way he did, can only make us wonder at our human nature, at the definition of "evil", at our capacities to stun and horrify.
Deviant is a highly worthwhile read.
So what will this book give you? You'll get Eddie's background and family relationships (the soil from which he grew), Plainfield, Wis. and its people, the crimes, the capture, and, just as intriguing and predictable, the aftermath with all its craziness. In effect, the whole enchilada as far as it's known. Many times not that exciting and still standing as a very good source from our modern eyes to all the madness of Plainfield in 1957. The Kindle book is pricey and still worth reading...recommended.