The Savage Trail of a True American Monster

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San Francisco, the 1920s. In an age when nightmares were relegated to the fiction of Edgar Allan Poe and distant tales of the Whitechapel murders, a real-life monster terrorized America. His acts of butchery have proved him one of history's fiercest madmen.
As an infant, Earle Leonard Nelson possessed the power to unsettle his elders. As a child he was unnaturally obsessed with the Bible; before he reached puberty, he had an insatiable, aberrant sex drive. By his teens, even Earle's own family had reason to fear him. But no one in the bone-chilling winter of 1926 could have predicted that his degeneracy would erupt in a sixteen-month frenzy of savage rape, barbaric murder, and unimaginable defilement -- deeds that would become the hallmarks of one of the most notorious fiends of the twentieth century, whose blood-lust would not be equaled until the likes of Henry Lee Lucas, John Wayne Gacy, and Jeffrey Dahmer.
Drawing on the "gruesome, awesome, compelling reporting" (Ann Rule) that is his trademark, Harold Schechter takes a dark journey into the mind of an unrepentant sadist -- and brilliantly lays bare the myth of innocence that shrouded a bygone era.
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Book Details:
  • Gallery Books | 
  • 352 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780671732189 | 
  • September 1999
List Price $32.00

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

It was not claimed that Durrant was insane, yet that there was something morally defective in his make-up is apparent. Cases like his do not, most happily, often occur, but their occurrence is frequent enough to show that "man is joined to the beasts of the field by his body," and may become something worse than a beast of prey, when he flings aside conscience, love of humanity and God, and resolves, no matter at the expense of what crimes, to gratify his bestial tendencies.

Matthew Worth Pinkerton,
Murder in All Ages (1898)

To all outward appearances, Theodore Durrant ("Theo" to his friends) was a fine,... see more


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