Title: American Demon: Eliot Ness and the Hunt for America’s Jack the Ripper
Author: Daniel Stashower
Publication Date: September 6, 2022
Number of Pages: 368
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Genre: Non-fiction, True Crime
Boston had its Strangler. California had the Zodiac Killer. And in the depths of the Great Depression, Cleveland had the Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run.
On September 5th, 1934, a young beachcomber made a gruesome discovery on the shores of Cleveland’s Lake Erie: the lower half of a female torso, neatly severed at the waist. The victim, dubbed “The Lady of the Lake,” was only the first of a butcher’s dozen. Over the next four years, twelve more bodies would be scattered across the city. The bodies were dismembered with surgical precision and drained of blood. Some were beheaded while still alive.
Terror gripped the city. Amid the growing uproar, Cleveland’s besieged mayor turned to his newly-appointed director of public safety: Eliot Ness. Ness had come to Cleveland fresh from his headline-grabbing exploits in Chicago, where he and his band of “Untouchables” led the frontline assault on Al Capone’s bootlegging empire. Now he would confront a case that would redefine his storied career.
Award-winning author Daniel Stashower shines a fresh light on one of the most notorious puzzles in the annals of crime, and uncovers the gripping story of Ness’s hunt for a sadistic killer who was as brilliant as he was cool and composed, a mastermind who was able to hide in plain sight. American Demon reconstructs this ultimate battle of wits between a hero and a madman.
American Demon is my second non-fiction read this month and my first true crime. This book was supposed to be about Elliot Ness and his involvement in the torso murders, but it reads more about his life and career. It turned out to be more political than true crime for me.
Despite that, I must say that I still quite enjoyed American Demon, especially the few chapters that slightly focuses on the murders. I also recommend the audiobook of this because the narrator was amazing; it helped me push through to finishing the book.