A Treasury of XXth Century Murder Compendium
I’ve already reviewed the three books reprinted in A Treasury of XX Century Murder Compendium:
so I was surprised at how much I was affected by re-reading them. They’re perhaps the most outstanding of the many volumes in Rick Geary’s Twentieth Century Murder series, although all of the books are informative and thought-provoking.
Geary tackles famous murders, obviously, but each case sheds light on more than just who was killed and why. Often, we don’t even know the latter, as most of his books deal with unsolved crimes. That’s one of the reasons they still fascinate us.
The Lindbergh Child started this new series (after his A Treasury of Victorian Murder series), and that choice makes sense, since that kidnapping and murder incorporated so many of the defining elements of the 20th century: celebrity, publicity, immigrants, and the mob, all during the Great Depression.
Madison Square Tragedy is one of Geary’s very best, continuing on similar themes with a triangle of showgirl Evelyn Nesbit, architect Stanford White, and spoiled, potentially crazy heir Harry K. Thaw. Added in this story is the complicating factors of sex and money. How could Nesbit make a living off her beauty? And what did White’s behavior with women say about gender roles and expectations of the day?
The Terrible Axe-Man of New Orleans is the one (pictured on the cover) that really creeped me out. I probably shouldn’t have been re-reading it just before bed, in the dark, but I got chills thinking about how many people died in horrible fashion, and no one still knows why.
This Compendium presents the three stories as they were originally published, just under one cover in a compact, sturdy omnibus hardcover at a discount price. There are a few preview pages at the publisher’s website. (The publisher provided a review copy.)