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“The Mad Sculptor: The Maniac, The Model, and the Murder that Shook The Nation” by Harold Schechter, PhD.
Crime historian and author, Harold Schecter PhD, has recently released his tenth historical true crime book, “The Mad Sculptor,” about the 1937 Manhattan murder of a 20 year-old model, her mother and a third individual by a psychologically deranged artist. Released just a week ago, the book already has a 4.5 star Amazon rating based on 22 reviews. The kindle version is just $5.99. The book is not yet available for Nook Book & ePub device readers but a hard copy can be purchased for as low as $11 or $12.
Beekman Place, once one of the most exclusive addresses in Manhattan, had a curious way of making it into the tabloids in the 1930s: “SKYSCRAPER SLAYER,” “BEAUTY SLAIN IN BATHTUB” read the headlines. On Easter Sunday in 1937, the discovery of a grisly triple homicide at Beekman Place would rock the neighborhood yet again—and enthrall the nation. The young man who committed the murders would come to be known in the annals of American crime as the Mad Sculptor.
Caught up in the Easter Sunday slayings was a bizarre and sensationalistic cast of characters, seemingly cooked up in a tabloid editor’s overheated imagination. The charismatic perpetrator, Roger Irwin, was a brilliant young sculptor who had studied with some of the masters of the era. But with his genius also came a deeply disturbed psyche; Irwin was obsessed with sexual self-mutilation and was frequently overcome by outbursts of violent rage.
Irwin’s primary victim, Veronica Gedeon, was a figure from the world of pulp fantasy—a stunning photographer’s model whose scandalous semi-nude pinups would titillate the public for weeks after her death. Irwin’s defense attorney, Samuel Leibowitz, was a courtroom celebrity with an unmatched record of acquittals and clients ranging from Al Capone to the Scottsboro Boys. And Dr. Fredric Wertham, psychiatrist and forensic scientist, befriended Irwin years before the murders and had predicted them in a public lecture months before the crime.
Based on extensive research and archival records, The Mad Sculptor recounts the chilling story of the Easter Sunday murders—a case that sparked a nationwide manhunt and endures as one of the most engrossing American crime dramas of the twentieth century. Harold Schechter’s masterful prose evokes the faded glory of post-depression New York and the singular madness of a brilliant mind turned against itself. It will keep you riveted until the very last page.
About the Author
Harold Schechter is an American true crime writer who specializes in serial killers. He attended the State University of New York in Buffalo where his PhD director was Leslie Fiedler. He is professor of American literature and popular culture at Queens College of the City University of New York. Schechter is married to poet Kimiko Hahn. He has two daughters from a previous marriage: the writer Lauren Oliver and professor of philosophy Elizabeth Schechter.
QUESTION: Describe what it was like writing about serial killers at the height of their popularity. Why do you think people find serial killers fascinating?
Answer from Harold: To some extent, really by happenstance, I guess I caught the wave. Certainly there was a period when the public fascination with serial killers was so intense that I found myself being called on as a talking head by the need media with a fair degree of regularity. Now the boogeyman that haunts the public imagination has shifted from the serial killer to the mass murderer.
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