Eliot Ness and the Mad Butcher: Hunting America's Deadliest Unidentified Serial Killer at the Dawn of Modern Criminology

Eliot Ness and the Mad Butcher: Hunting America's Deadliest Unidentified Serial Killer at the Dawn of Modern Criminology

by Max Allan Collins, A. Brad Schwartz


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In the spirit of Devil in the White City comes a true detective tale of the highest standard: the haunting story of Eliot Ness's forgotten final case–his years-long hunt for "The Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run," a serial killer who terrorized Cleveland through the Great Depression. 

“After helping to put Al Capone behind bars, lawman Eliot Ness came to Cleveland, where he did battle with a vicious killer. ... Even Ness was stumped trying to apprehend the ‘torso murderer’ responsible for a series of ghoulish killings. ... The authors have done Ness justice." —Wall Street Journal

In 1934, the nation’s most legendary crime-fighter–fresh from taking on the greatest gangster in American history–arrived in Cleveland, a corrupt and dangerous town about to host a world's fair. It was to be his coronation, as well as the city's. Instead, terror descended, as headless bodies started turning up. The young detective, already battling the mob and crooked cops, found his drive to transform American policing subverted by a menace largely unknown to law enforcement: a serial murderer.

Eliot Ness's greatest case had begun. 

Now, Max Allan Collins and A. Brad Schwartz–the acclaimed writing team behind Scarface and the Untouchable–uncover this lost crime epic, delivering a gripping and unforgettable nonfiction account based on decades of groundbreaking research.

Ness had risen to fame in 1931 for leading the “Untouchables,” which helped put Chicago’s Al Capone behind bars. As Cleveland's public safety director, in charge of the police and fire departments, Ness offered a radical new vision for better law enforcement. Crime-ridden and devastated by the Depression, Cleveland was preparing for a star-turn itself: in 1936, it would host the "Great Lakes Exposition," which would be visited by seven million people. Late in the summer of 1934, however, pieces of a woman’s body began washing up on the Lake Erie shore–first her ribs, then part of her backbone, then the lower half of her torso. The body count soon grew to five, then ten, then more, all dismembered in gruesome ways.

As Ness zeroed in on a suspect–a doctor tied to a prominent political family—powerful forces thwarted his quest for justice. In this battle between a flawed hero and a twisted monster–by turns horror story, political drama, and detective thriller—Collins and Schwartz find an American tragedy, classic in structure, epic in scope.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062881977
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 08/04/2020
Pages: 576
Sales rank: 239,782
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.70(d)

About the Author

Max Allan Collins is a Mystery Writers of America Grand Master. He is the author of the Shamus Award-winning Nathan Heller thrillers and the graphic novel Road to Perdition, basis of the Academy Award-winning film starring Tom Hanks. His innovative Quarry novels led to a 2016 Cinemax series. He has completed a dozen posthumous Mickey Spillane mysteries, and wrote the syndicated Dick Tracy series for more than fifteen years. His one-man show, Eliot Ness: An Untouchable Life, was an Edgar Award finalist. He lives in Iowa.

A. Brad Schwartz is the author of Broadcast Hysteria: Orson Welles's War of the Worlds and the Art of Fake News, based in part on research from his senior thesis at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. He cowrote a documentary about the War of the Worlds broadcast for the PBS series American Experience. He is currently a doctoral candidate in American history at Princeton University.

Table of Contents

Coauthor's Note xiii

Prologue: Untouchable 1

Part 1 Public Safety

Chapter 1 The Dark City 9

Chapter 2 An Impossible Mission 21

Chapter 3 Showdown 35

Chapter 4 The Mad Butcher 51

Chapter 5 This Is a Raid! 63

Chapter 6 The Butcher's Meat 75

Chapter 7 Perfect Victims 89

Part 2 The Unknowns

Chapter 8 Hero of the Hour 103

Chapter 9 A Modern Dracula 121

Chapter 10 Who Will Be Next? 141

Chapter 11 Doctor X 155

Chapter 12 Butcher Paper 169

Chapter 13 Good Riddance 183

Chapter 14 Mystery Man 197

Chapter 15 Right-Hand Man 213

Chapter 16 A New Suspect 229

Chapter 17 The Right Man? 237

Chapter 18 That's the Man 247

Chapter 19 Whatever Became of Eliot Ness? 263

Chapter 20 The Heat Is On 275

Chapter 21 EN-3 285

Part 3 Private Sector

Chapter 22 Social Evil 301

Chapter 23 The Old Restlessness 319

Chapter 24 Vote Yes for Ness 327

Chapter 25 Head Man Ness 339

Chapter 26 You Should Write a Book 355

Chapter 27 Valuable Citizen 363

Epilogue: A Modern Myth 377

An Informal Afterword 397

Acknowledgments: A Tip of the Fedora 401

Abbreviations 409

Source Notes 413

Bibliography 527

Index 543

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