The Cleveland Torso Murders big on history, small on research

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The Cleveland Torso Murders chronicles the case of the notorious Cleveland serial killer, the Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run. During the Great Depression the Mad Butcher’s presence caused a stir among the city’s “working poor” (explained as “the working poor usually had to work several low paying jobs just to try to make ends meet”). His first official victim surfaced September 23rd, 1935.

On the book’s cover, “Hoffmann Books” receives the author credit. Malaya and Toni Hoffman founded the small German publishing company which focuses on publishing Kindle books. They released The Cleveland Torso Murders last summer. Amazon lists the book’s estimated print length at 71 pages.

The Bad

While on the shorter side The Cleveland Torso Murders manages to pack in a lot details. Honestly though Hoffmann Books could’ve fleshed out the book by performing more in-depth research. As an example, combing over Cleveland newspaper archives from the 1930s would have provided an enhancement. Such action could fill the pages with direct quotes from law enforcement leading to a better end product.

The Good

The Cleveland Torso Murders contains many details. This makes the literary work a fair introduction to the Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run. Perhaps you caught the Criminal Minds episode (titled “Zoe’s Reprise”) where Cleveland’s notorious serial killer receives mention and now you want to learn more. The Hoffman Books release will serve this purpose.

The Intriguing

Reading The Cleveland Torso Murders offers a peek into how our society today compares to the 1930s. It’s ironic that a book about a brutal serial killer could supply a refreshing perspective on our society. Particularly interesting is the growing open-mindedness toward homosexuality. Apparently back in the 1930s Cleveland law prohibited homosexuality, unimaginable these days, at least in the U.S.

Yet other troublesome societal trends existed nearly 80 years later. The ways strong political ties can hinder an investigation and more importantly justice serves as one example. Investigating prime suspect Dr. Frank Sweeney represented a challenge due to his cousin, powerful congressman Martin Sweeney.

My Verdict

Anyone interested in learning the basics about Cleveland’s Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run or simply interested in how society changed over the past eight decades should find The Cleveland Torso Murders by Hoffmann Books worthwhile.

Star Rating (Out of Five): ***

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Zachary Fenell

Zach is a native Clevelander and full-time writer. He is the author of the inspiring, Off Balanced, called "tremendous" and "a rare book" by critics. Zach identifies writing as both "a career and his life's calling." To see more from Zach, check out his blog, Off Balanced, where he is "putting the 'cerebral' in cerebral palsy."

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