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Psychopath (Crimescape)

Psychopath (Crimescape) - Katherine Ramsland,  Marilyn Bardsley In Psychopath, Dr. Ramsland discusses the criminal history of H. H. Holmes, a cold and skillfully manipulative serial killer who took advantage of the chaos of the 1893 World Fair to go on an undetected (at the time) killing spree. That's probably what he's best known for these days, thanks to Erik Larson's The Devil in the White City.

Holmes pulled a lot of cons and committed many murders aside from the ones that took place in his "Murder Castle," though, and it was one of those unrelated cons that finally got him caught. Dr. Ramsland starts with that case of insurance fraud, follows Holmes's arrest, the subsequent investigation into his other crimes, and his incarceration and trial, and uses her background in criminal psychology to paint a picture of Holmes's probable mindset during that time. She also explains his attempts to manipulate the public before and during his trial, and digs a little into the possible root causes of psychopathy in general.

The book includes some discussion of phrenology -- a pseudoscience that was fashionable in the early 1800s -- and touches on neuroscientific research into psychopathy and the ethics of punishing true psychopaths, but mostly it functions as a "true crime"-type story.

It's a quick read, short and compelling. I don't know whether I LIKED it, I mean, it's a horrible story, but that has nothing to do with Dr. Ramsland's writing or storytelling style, which I did like.

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