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  • Eliot Ness and the Mad Butcher

  • Hunting America's Deadliest Unidentified Serial Killer at the Dawn of Modern Criminology
  • Written by: Max Allan Collins, A. Brad Schwartz
  • Narrated by: Malcolm Hillgartner
  • Length: 11 hrs and 49 mins
  • 2.0 out of 5 stars (1 rating)

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Eliot Ness and the Mad Butcher

Written by: Max Allan Collins,A. Brad Schwartz
Narrated by: Malcolm Hillgartner
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Publisher's Summary

In the spirit of Devil in the White City comes a true detective tale of the highest standard: the haunting story of Eliot Ness' forgotten final case - his years-long hunt for "The Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run", a serial killer who terrorized Cleveland through the Great Depression and tormented Ness to his dying breath. 

"A careening read that’s full of surprises.... Collins and Schwartz deliver a nimble, taut tale. More importantly, they offer a portrait of a complex crime fighter who believed in science and reason at a time when most officers smacked suspects around with a blackjack, a portrait set against a backdrop of ethnic and class collisions, labor unrest, and political intrigue. Catnip for true-crime buffs." (Kirkus Reviews)

In 1934, the nation’s most legendary crime fighter - fresh from taking on the greatest gangster in American history - arrived in Cleveland, a corrupt and dangerous town about to host a world's fair. It was to be his coronation, as well as the city's. Instead, terror descended, as headless bodies started turning up. The young detective, already battling the mob and crooked cops, found his drive to transform American policing subverted by a menace largely unknown to law enforcement: a serial murderer.

Eliot Ness' greatest case had begun. Now, Max Allan Collins and A. Brad Schwartz - the acclaimed writing team behind Scarface and The Untouchables - uncover this lost crime epic, delivering a gripping and unforgettable nonfiction account based on decades of groundbreaking research.

Ness had risen to fame in 1931 for leading the “Untouchables”, which helped put Chicago’s Al Capone behind bars. As Cleveland's public safety director, in charge of the police and fire departments, Ness offered a radical new vision for better law enforcement. Crime-ridden and devastated by the Depression, Cleveland was preparing for a star-turn itself: in 1936, it would host the "Great Lakes Exposition", which would be visited by seven million people. Late in the summer of 1934, however, pieces of a woman’s body began washing up on the Lake Erie shore - first her ribs, then part of her backbone, then the lower half of her torso. The body count soon grew to five, then 10, then more, all dismembered in gruesome ways.

As Ness zeroed in on a suspect - a doctor tied to a prominent political family - powerful forces thwarted his quest for justice. In this battle between a flawed hero and a twisted monster - by turns horror story, political drama, and detective thriller - Collins and Schwartz find an American tragedy, classic in structure, epic in scope. 

©2020 Max Allan Collins and A. Brad Schwartz (P)2020 HarperCollins Publishers

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  • Michael
  • 2020-08-09

Total disappointment!

1) Of the 11 hrs and 49 mins run time, less than an hour is about Ness’ hunt for the Mad Butcher.
2) It’s more of the authors blow-banging Eliot Ness and how great of a Treasury Agent he was. Contrary to popular belief, Ness was not an FBI Agent and FBI Director, J. Edgar Hoover had an intense dislike of Ness.
3) The reader, Malcolm Hillgartner goes a good job with the narration.

My best advice ... save your credit.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Tgeoffy
  • 2021-08-10

Misnamed. Just a Ness biography

The book is well researched and constructed but the title is essentially clickbait. The content regarding the Torso Murderer is scant and presented almost with disinterest. As a Ness biography, it is enlightening and informative. As a contrasting look at the titular case, it is minimalist at best.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Reader
  • 2020-09-01

A Must Read

After reading the tremendous Scarface and the Untouchable by Max Allan Collins and A. Brad Schwartz, I really looked forward to this continuation of the life and work of Elliott Ness, as well as the information regarding one of the early serial murderers in the nation's history. Both authors once again deliver painstakingly researched information that sets the record straight about the good and not so good regarding Ness, in a forthright and concise manner, while presenting it in such a way that you never feel bogged down with information and remain completely engaged. Highly recommended.

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  • Vicky
  • 2022-12-03

Better than I expected.

I enjoyed most of the book. the last third was a little slow. while the epilogue tied up the loose ends it was the hardest to get through.

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  • Andrea
  • 2022-11-02

Well Researched

If you what to know about Eliot Ness and his post “Untouchables” years, this is the book for you. I found the title a bit misleading. I thought there would be a lot more about the “Hunt” for “The Butcher”However, it was still an excellent listen. When it came to policing, Ness was an innovator.

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  • Wendy Cheatham
  • 2022-03-22

pretty interesting

It's well written and narrarated. It's more of a history of Ness' career than his hunt for a serial killer. Being from the area where it all took place, it was good to get the truth about the local lore. If you are looking for the history of his life in Cleveland, this is it.

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  • Bull
  • 2020-08-11

Not a Max Allan Collins novel

If you're expecting something in the vein of Collins's great Heller novels, forget it. The book sounds like a bunch of notes he took researching a new Ness book.

I believe there is a 4 book series by Max collectively known as Eliot Ness in Cleveland. They're not available as audiobooks. One in the series in hardcover is priced at over a thousand dollars at Amazon! No thanks.

The "Mad Butcher" is not the central theme of this book. I guess they put that in the title to get people (like me) to try it (I did). The Butcher's story pops up from time to time, but the mentions are almost incidental.