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  • Deviant

  • The Shocking True Story of Ed Gein, the Original "Psycho"
  • Written by: Harold Schechter
  • Narrated by: R.C. Bray
  • Length: 8 hrs and 16 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (120 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

From "America's principal chronicler of its greatest psychopathic killers" (Boston Book Review) comes the definitive account of Ed Gein, a mild-mannered Wisconsin farmhand who stunned an unsuspecting nation - and redefined the meaning of the word psycho.

The year was 1957. The place was an ordinary farmhouse in America's heartland, filled with extraordinary evidence of unthinkable depravity. The man behind the massacre was a slight, unassuming Midwesterner with a strange smile - and an even stranger attachment to his domineering mother. After her death and a failed attempt to dig up his mother's body from the local cemetery, Gein turned to other grave robberies and, ultimately, multiple murders.

Driven to commit gruesome and bizarre acts beyond all imagination, Ed Gein remains one of the most deranged minds in the annals of American homicide. This is his story, recounted in fascinating and chilling detail by Harold Schechter, one of the most acclaimed true-crime storytellers of our time.

©1989 Harold Schechter (P)2016 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What listeners say about Deviant

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

An Impressive- Albeit Sensationalist- Biography

I have to admit I was expecting more of a conventional True Crime chronicle when I purchased this audiobook - and it delivers on the promise of particulars of crimes, courtroom transcripts, and police reports -  but Harold Schechter provides a more all-encompassing book. He painstakingly researches the upbringing, habits, and obsessions of perhaps the most famous psychopath in American history. This book is less of a documentary and more of an immersive look into a disordered mind: 'Deviant' delves into Ed Gein's psychopathology, for example.. fortunately while avoiding becoming too-technical.
Schlechter is exceedingly well-read, his vocabulary is impressive, and he paints a vivid picture of life in Plainfield, Wisconsin during and after the shocking discoveries. Despite a few awkwardly-worded sentences, this treatise is eminently readable.. it's a well-written and insightful book.

R.C. Bray's talents are wasted somewhat on this project. He is best suited for fiction (and shines most where dialogue is involved). This book actually provides very little opportunity for Bray to exhibit his talents, but his narration is clear, easy to consume, and interested. He is undoubtedly one of the best readers in the business, but Bray's sombre performance here is perhaps best characterized as consummately "Professional".

Altogether, this is an excellent biography examining a fascinating real-life ghoul. The book is a little too focussed on the macabre aspects of the case, but Ed Gein is almost too creepy to believe - his pathology is jaw-dropping. 'Deviant' rates 8.5 stars out of 10 - it's easily worth your Credit.

1 person found this helpful

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SCARY AS HELL!!!

Don't listen to this 'story' if you get nightmares easily! I can't stress that enough!!! This listen was tough...really tough, but the narrator was a big draw for me.....I really like listening to Mr. Bray.....but this story will stick to the front of my mind for sometime to come! To know that this is a TRUE story makes it that much harder to forget....very well written....very well read....NEVER to be forgotten!!

1 person found this helpful

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Don't listen in the dark!

This is one of my favourite audible books when I need something spooky. It's so well written and the narrator really adds to the scariness that is Ed Gein. Out of all the books I could review this is the one that I reread the most often. #Audible1

1 person found this helpful

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Well written and narrated.

Well written and narrated. . . . . . . . . . . * #

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  • GWO
  • 2022-01-19

All meat, no fat

A completely engrossing listen from start to finish. Bray’s deep tones are the perfect compliment to Schechter’s comprehensive peeling back of the layers into Gein’s dark underbelly. A must listen for anyone with an appetite for the creepy and disturbing.

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Absolutely Fascinating

This might be one of the single most fascinating audiobooks I have ever listened to. Besides the PERFECT narrator for this story, I just never expected to listen to a book on a notorious serial killer and come out of it with incredible empathy for him.

The deep dive into Ed Gein's childhood, adolescence and descent into madness is truly just a story about how he was a very, very mentally ill man who truly never stood a chance to live a normal life. I was completely addicted to this story and it is a MUST for true crime lovers.

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Serious

this reading was both serious and respectful. It went into quite a bit of depth regarding Ed Gein’s early life, in fact, into his father’s life even. The part wherein the police enter his house was just chilling. If you like true crime but are a bit tired of the stereotyped series that are around, I’d suggest this story.

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Trine crime starts here

if you are looking to get into true crime books then this is the best one, incredible well researched and unbiased. looking forward to listening to it again.

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Creepy,

I was on the fence about this one, but finished it. Some parts were very hard to listen to. Very well written and narrated. I had honestly never heard his name before and without this book, probably would've thought the whole story a myth or the figment of someone's psychotic imagination.

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  • A1
  • 2018-09-19

First 3/4 good, ending not so much.

Very detailed account although as others have mentioned it kind of Peters out towards the end. I was familiar with the name of Ed Gein but not the story behind him. This is an informative albeit macabre account of s descent into madness. I found the childhood part of his story nearly as disturbing as what he did with the bodies.
#Audible1

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Adam
  • 2016-08-26

Has its Moments but Overly Salacious

The first 40% or so of this book was what I found most engaging; the background about the region, Gein's family history and early life, etc., provided some good insights.

However, by about the middle of the book, once Gein's crimes are finally uncovered, the narrative sharply detours into voyeurism of the horrors he perpetrated, with long, tortuous cataloging of the same grotesqueries over and over.

There are aspects of the investigation, trial, and what lay behind Gein's psychopathy that are of interest throughout this second portion, but you have to wade through a lot of wretchedly prurient detail. I would have appreciated more focus on the legal, forensic, and psychological investigations, and less of the horror show.

On the plus side, the book does do a solid job of depicting Gein's persona and demeanor, and setting him in the context of his time and place. Overall, that's probably the book's greatest strength.

One oddity -- the end seems to come rather abruptly and is utterly forgettable. It's only been a week or so since I listened to this and I can't really recall how it wraps up.

The narration is serviceable and well done. No particular aspects stand out as especially noteworthy, but Mr. Bray is clearly a capable professional and delivers a worthy performance. I'd be glad to hear other works by him.

Overall, this work is moderately informative and insightful. Absolutely not recommended if you don't have a strong stomach for accounts of atrocity. If you can tolerate that and you have an interest in this case for the forensics or psychopathology, then it's moderately worthwhile. Definitely not a priority or a must-read though.

102 people found this helpful

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  • E F
  • 2016-07-17

The best of true crime

Ed Gein is a classic at this point, and this book does his incredible story justice. If you have liked any of the stories he inspired (Psycho, Texas Chainsaw, etc) you have to read this to know where it all began. Parts of this book are very hard to listen to, because it goes into a lot of graphic detail about Gein's corpse mutilations, so keep that in mind. Overall, this is a chilling and entrancing story!

50 people found this helpful

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  • Keith
  • 2016-08-05

A Fascinating Page Turner

Exceptionally well written and equally well performed, both the writer and storyteller have managed to cover such an hideous set of events commited by an insane, and pitious monstor, yet interject at times just enough humor to tickle the mind even while pondering the mind-numbing and gross nature of what is happening. Bravo!! I can't imagine how this story could be any more well told!

24 people found this helpful

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  • D. Linn
  • 2016-10-11

Well Researched... But too much 'little man"

Where does Deviant rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Definitely one that I have listened to several times. One complaint is that the author uses "the little man" phrase far too often instead of using Gein's name or another noun. After a while it became annoying.

What did you like best about this story?

Great account of Gein's whole life story but not sure if it touches enough on Gein's reasoning and psychology of the crimes.

What about R. C. Bray’s performance did you like?

Earthy, gritty tone was perfect for this tale of horror.

21 people found this helpful

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  • chris
  • 2016-05-12

Intriguing. a very fascinating story

very gruesome details about a very mentally Disturbed individual and his deranged relationship with women

19 people found this helpful

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  • Derek
  • 2016-05-06

interesting story. average book

this didn't tell the story so much as regurgitate the facts of a peculiar man who did unspeakable things.

16 people found this helpful

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  • POLLY POIZENDEM
  • 2016-12-17

~ A Boy's Best Friend Is His Mother ~


I thoroughly enjoyed the narrator...his deep voice was the perfect blend for this dark (and VERY detailed) telling of the horrific crimes of Ed Gein. Grave robbing, corpse mutilation, murder and more! An excellent spooky story for sure! Perfect for listening to on a dreary stormy night! You can almost envision how things were back then (50+ yrs ago) - a much simpler time, and life in a small country town where nothing out of the ordinary really happens.

Ed, a middle aged, somewhat shy "keeps to himself" kind of guy living all alone in his old run down farmhouse with no electricity, had LOTS of time to himself to do what pleased him most - indulge in his obsession with death and women. Preferrably dead women. He was also the "home crafter" type ...who derived great pleasure fashioning practical household items and creative objects d'art obtained from his late night cemetery runs, which he enjoyed displaying and using in various ways.

This has always been one of my favorite true crime "stories", and I never tire of it ...always hoping to glean just ONE more tiny fact or tidbit that I hadn't known about before. I'd have to say that this book gave me a few of those subtle but exciting for me "ooohhh I didn't know THAT" moments. I'm giving it a solid 5 Stars across the board, because its a GREAT audiobook. Needless to say, of *course* I will be relistening to this one again. And again. Lol. Classic True Crime!


12 people found this helpful

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  • Trevor
  • 2016-04-28

Decent

This was a decent book to pass the time and it was interesting but... It didn't dive that far into the actual crimes committed or more personal information about Gein. that would have made this book way better but still worth a listen.

11 people found this helpful

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  • Midwestbonsai
  • 2017-01-06

the fiction of Psycho doesn’t come close

Who doesn’t love a true crime story? This book recounts the life and crimes of Edward Gein, the man behind the murders that inspired the cult horror film 'Psycho'.

It’s very well organised, firstly laying out the story of his parents and their relationship with each other. It then briefly covers the known portion of his childhood and adulthood, then on to the gruesome details of his crimes.

This is where the fiction of Psycho doesn’t come close to the horror of this true story. For whatever reason; mental illness, receptiveness to outside influences, evil – Eddie Gein dug up corpses and did unspeakable things to them (well, not literally unspeakable – this is an audiobook review, after all!) and kept little souvenirs in his home. His little spree comes to an end when he finally goes the extra step and kills a popular local woman in broad daylight.

The book then covers his court case, his incarceration and other interesting aspects, such as his psychological evaluations and the impact his crimes had on his small time and the course of their future long after he’d been locked away.

All this is very interesting but I did find it a bit sensationalist, adding a bit of artistic license when it came to his motives and some of his crimes, which feels unnecessary when the bare facts are morbidly fascinating in and of themselves.

What I also found interesting is that the psychological evaluations of the experts of the time are still considered to be gospel. Seeing as his crimes were committed in the 1940-50s, psychology has come forward in leaps and bounds since then – it might have been interesting to include a new professional take on his crimes and motivation.

R.C. Bray was a little dry for my taste and didn’t really do much to hold my attention, despite this book being in my wheelhouse. While there is a fine line to tread between dispassionately telling the facts and being too enthusiastic about the mutilation of dead women… I’m not sure the balance was really reached.

As true crime novels go, this wasn’t really my favourite – I’m sure there’s a way that this could have been presented to capture my imagination without giving me nightmares for the rest of my life.

Audiobook was purchased for review by ABR.

Please find this complete review and many others at my review blog

[If this review helped, please press YES. Thanks!]

6 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Nate_D
  • 2016-12-08

Sad....horrifying and sad.

The tale of Eddie Gein is not one for the faint of heart. Some of the details I knew, but there is quite a bit of the story that I had not heard before. While it was quite shocking to listen to the details of the events that transpired, it left me with an over-riding feeling of sadness. Gein obviously did not have use of a sound mind, and the events of his childhood and early adulthood set him up with some serious mental illnesses.

A couple other things kept coming to my mind as I read this book. Gein was anything but a master deceiver. He could have been, and even SHOULD have been caught numerous times along the way, but the world was a different place in the 40's and 50's, and these kinds of occurrences and even ideas were not in the public psyche like they are today with our overload of disturbed media. Also, it was amazing how many of the modern literary and movie "monsters" come from the story of Ed Gein. Hannibal Lechter and Norman Bates would have never come to be without Mr. Gein; not to mention the many spin off's of these psychopaths.

R.C. Bray is amazing as the narrator, and adds a creepy, professional tone to the narration.

5 people found this helpful