The Mad Sculptor: The Maniac, the Model, and the Murder that Shook the Nation by Harold Schechter

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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, Robert 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 seminude 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.

Title : The Mad Sculptor: The Maniac, the Model, and the Murder that Shook the Nation
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 0544114310
Edition Language : English
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 368 pages


Jennifer rated it ★★☆☆☆

June 08, 2015

I realized something about true crime when reading this book. If the author does not give the reader a head's up on what occurred during the murder, who was killed, how they were killed, etc., it becomes a very irritating book to read. This is not a mystery novel. There is no reason to wait until...

Sarah rated it ★★★★☆

February 10, 2015

6/2 - I read Schechter's The Devil's Gentleman some years ago and enjoyed it thoroughly, even with flow-breaking footnotes numbering in the hundreds. I had a quick flip through The Mad Sculptor and I'm pleased to see not a single footnote. While they do add extra information to some complicated p...

Mike rated it ★★★★☆

April 06, 2014

A highly entertaining and well written book recounting the triple murder of Ronnie Gedeon, her mother, Mary Gedeon and their border Frank Byrnes by Robert Irwin, a very talented but highly troubled sculptor. The murder took place in 1937 in the Beekman Place section of Manhattan. Today it is a ver...

Jill rated it ★★★★☆

September 18, 2015

The 1920s and 1930s always seemed to have the "crime of the century"....some we have known (the Lindbergh baby kidnapping, Leopold and Loeb) but many we have never heard of. The lurid newspapers of the time loved that term and the messier the murder, the better. This story concerns one of those c...

Josh rated it ★★★★★

January 05, 2016

Entertaining throughout with enough pulp sentiments to detach the reader from the horrific nature of the murders described within the bloodstained pages. Each character read as if crafted by fiction rather than fact such was the easy manner and heavy pulp overtones used to tell Bob Irwin's story...

Marcia rated it ★☆☆☆☆

September 06, 2016

This book is an absolute wreck. I made it 90% of the way through, to the part where the murderer is transferred from prison, where he was serving a life sentence, to a mental hospital. [I don't consider this a spoiler since this a non-fiction book I'm reviewing.] I simply cannot read anymore. I'm...

Robert rated it ★★★★★

February 28, 2014

This book graphically and thoroughly details the frightful life of the spree-killer, Robert Irwin from his early childhood through his eventual imprisonment for life for the killing of three innocent victims on Mother's Day in 1937. The author carefully depicts Irwin's obsessions and delusions as...

Vince rated it ★★★★★

April 08, 2014 I first encountered Harold Schechter in the mid-’90s at the (sadly) now-defunct Twice-Loved Books in Youngstown, Ohio. My friend Todd and I would travel there often, lost for hours among their three floors of books and playing with the occasional store cat....

Becky rated it ★☆☆☆☆

October 24, 2014

Let me start by admitting that I did not finish this book but that I came oh-so-so-so close. I had purchased the audiobook and was only two hours away from the finish line when I finally said fuck it. I’ve got Shirley Jackson’s marvelous “The Haunting of Hill House” on the side, and its just WOND...

Rachel rated it ★★★☆☆

August 27, 2016

This is a compelling look at Robert Irwin and the murder of Veronica Gedeon (as well as her mother and a male boarder). While I found it really interesting to read about the clear progression of Irwin's psychological issues, I was a little confused about why it was sandwiched between murders that...

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