In an article for Shepherd.com, Harold discusses his picks for the best novels inspired by true crimes.
"When a genre finally makes it into the hallowed halls of the Library of America, that is a sign of its growing respectability. (Psychological suspense did with my own two-volume set, Women Crime Writers, in 2015.) As a writer, Schechter has done more work and research on historical serial murderers than anyone else (and become, alas, ripe for pilfering by true crime podcasters.) Editing this volume demonstrates the breadth of his knowledge and his astute choices of other nonfiction crime writers and their pet cases. Someday, I hope, there will be a follow-up anthology."
"...Schechter has managed to do a wonderful job researching the subject, drawing from newspaper reports, books and public records, and he synthesizes them beautifully, creating a tight narrative that's hard to put down. Schechter's writing is matter-of-fact and unshowy; while he includes the gruesome details of the bombing's aftermath, he does so with sensitivity — the book is never lurid or exploitative.
"The author displays a talent for mixing lurid pulp narrative, dead-on procedural facts, and tabloid rag copy. Despite a full confession from Irwin, his defense attorney Samuel Leibowitz, “The Great Defender” with a notable record and clients such as Al Capone and the Scottsboro Boys, twisted the jury around his finger and walked away with a draw. Ambitious, bold, and evocative, Schechter’s storytelling grabs the reader in a similar manner to Capote’s searing In Cold Blood."
Harold Schechter recently wrote an article for Library of America about five chilling true-crime classics.
The Mystery Writers of America today announced the nominees for the prestigious 2015 Edgar Awards. Harold Schechter's The Mad Sculptor has been nominated for an award in the "Best Fact Crime" category. Awards will be presented on April 29, 2015.
"Even the most baffled detective may take heart from Sherlock Holmes's sage pronouncement in "The Adventure of the Red-Headed League" (1891): "As a rule, the more bizarre a thing is, the less mysterious it proves to be." The 1937 triple homicide of Veronica Gedeon, an attractive model who posed for artists and crime magazines; her mother; and an English boarder at their Beekman Place apartment on Manhattan's East Side luridly demonstrates Holmes's wisdom.
"This history revives a tabloid sensation of 1937, when a mother and daughter were found strangled in their Manhattan apartment. The fact that the daughter was a twenty-year-old nude model who left behind a "seemingly endless stream of boyfriends" made the case, as Schechter writes, a "perfect storm of prurience." The killer turned out to be sculptor, taxidermist, and failed seminarian who had spent his adult life in and out of mental institutions.
Harold recently wrote an article for HuffPost on famous literature inspired by true-life crimes.
"Schechter (American literature, City University New York) shares another rigorously researched true crime story in the latest in his series that delves into American serial killers (e.g., Fatal; Fiend; Bestial; et al.).
“To become a true tabloid sensation,” Mr. Schechter writes, “a murder has to offer more than morbid titillation. It needs a pair of outsized characters — diabolical villain and defenseless, preferably female, victim — a dramatic story line, and the kind of lurid goings-on that speak to the secret dreams and dangerous desires of the public.”
"Examining the life and surroundings of Irwin, who perpetrated a triple homicide on Easter Sunday 1937, veteran true-crime writer Schechter (American Literature and Culture/Queens Coll.; Psycho USA: Famous American Killers You Never Heard Of, 2012) also offers tales of other grisly murders, particularly the two murders that took place over an 18-month period in exclusive Manhattan’s Beekman Place. They are connected only by geography and the fact that the tabloids embellished the stories with any salacious material they could dig up or create.
"In large part because it sold newspapers, exceptionally lurid reporting of murders often “shook the nation,” especially in post-Depression America. The tabloids sold well if they got the scoop, and if they invented much of it, few cared.