All That is Wicked
The 'Victorian Hannibal Lecter' and the Race to Decode the Criminal Mind
by Kate Winkler Dawson
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Pub Date 06 Oct 2022 | Archive Date 03 Nov 2022
'A master-class in bringing history to life, in all its creepy, twisted glory' - Karen Kilgariff, co-host of My Favorite Murder podcast
'Every true crime fan will be riveted by Kate's master story-telling of this unforgettable tale' - Paul Holes, author of Unmasked: Crime Scenes, Cold Cases and My Hunt for the Golden State Killer
The thrilling story of Edward Rulloff - a serial murderer who was called 'too intelligent to be killed' - and the array of 19th-century investigators who were convinced his brain held the key to finally understanding the criminal mind.
Rulloff was a brilliant yet utterly amoral murderer - some have called him a 'Victorian-era Hannibal Lecter' - whose crimes spanned decades, but by 1871 he was captured, chained in a cell - a psychopath holding court while curious 19th-century 'mindhunters' got to work.
From alienists (early psychiatrists who tried to analyse the source of his madness) to neurologists (who wanted to dissect his brain) to phrenologists (who analysed the bumps on his head to determine his character), each one thought he held the key to understanding the essential question: is evil born or made?
Expanding on her hit podcast, Tenfold More Wicked, acclaimed crime historian Kate Winkler Dawson draws on hundreds of source materials and never-before-shared historical documents to present one of the first glimpses into the mind of a serial killer - a century before the term was coined - through the scientists whose work would come to influence criminal justice for decades to come.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 12 members
Until I came across this book on NetGalley, I had never heard of Edward Rulloff, but the Hannibal Lecter hook in the blurb caught my attention and so, while true crime is not a genre I usually read a lot in, I decided to give it a try. Overall, it was an interesting read. Rulloff was certainly an intriguing figure, and it was also fascinating to hear about the ways different 'experts' of the time attempted to explain him, as a precursor to modern forensic psychiatry and profiling. The story was told in an entertaining way, mingling Rulloff's history with the background and thoughts of those who met and tried to assess him, and when I finished I felt a desire to know more about criminal psychology, so I might check out a few of the books in the bibliography. It gets a solid 4 stars for me and I recommend it to both fans of true crime and those interested in criminal psychology.
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