The Wilderness of Ruin: A Tale of Madness, Fire, and the Hunt for America's Youngest Serial Killer

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9780062273475: The Wilderness of Ruin: A Tale of Madness, Fire, and the Hunt for America's Youngest Serial Killer

In late nineteenth-century Boston, home to Herman Melville and Oliver Wendell Holmes, a serial killer preying on children is running loose in the city—a wilderness of ruin caused by the Great Fire of 1872—in this literary historical crime thriller reminiscent of The Devil in the White City.

In the early 1870s, local children begin disappearing from the working-class neighborhoods of Boston. Several return home bloody and bruised after being tortured, while others never come back.

With the city on edge, authorities believe the abductions are the handiwork of a psychopath, until they discover that their killer—fourteen-year-old Jesse Pomeroy—is barely older than his victims. The criminal investigation that follows sparks a debate among the world’s most revered medical minds, and will have a decades-long impact on the judicial system and medical consciousness.

The Wilderness of Ruin is a riveting tale of gruesome murder and depravity. At its heart is a great American city divided by class—a chasm that widens in the aftermath of the Great Fire of 1872. Roseanne Montillo brings Gilded Age Boston to glorious life—from the genteel cobblestone streets of Beacon Hill to the squalid, overcrowded tenements of Southie. Here, too, is the writer Herman Melville. Enthralled by the child killer’s case, he enlists physician Oliver Wendell Holmes to help him understand how it might relate to his own mental instability.

With verve and historical detail, Roseanne Montillo explores this case that reverberated through all of Boston society in order to help us understand our modern hunger for the prurient and sensational.

The Wilderness of Ruin features more than a dozen black-and-white photographs.

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From the Back Cover:

An enthralling tale of madness and murder, set against the backdrop of Boston's Great Fire and America's Gilded Age

In 1871, young children were disappearing from Boston's working- class neighborhoods. The few who returned told desperate tales of being taken to the woods and tortured by a boy not much older than themselves. The police were skeptical—these children were from poor families, so their testimony was easily discounted. And after the Great Boston Fire of 1872 reduced much of downtown to rubble, the city had more pressing concerns. Finally, when the police apprehended Jesse Pomeroy for the crimes, he, like any twelve-year-old, was sent off to reform school. Little thought was given to the danger he might pose to society, despite victims' chilling reports of this affectless Boy Torturer.

Sixteen months later, Jesse was released in the care of his mother, and within months a ten-year-old girl and a four-year-old boy went missing, their mutilated bodies later discovered by police. This set off a frantic hunt for Pomeroy, who was now proclaimed America's youngest serial killer. When he was captured and brought to trial, his case transfixed the nation, and two public figures—Herman Melville and Oliver Wendell Holmes—each probed the depths of Pomeroy's character in a search for the meaning behind his madness.

Roseanne Montillo, author of the acclaimed The Lady and Her Monsters, takes us inside those harrowing years, as a city reeling from great disaster reckoned with the moral quandaries posed by Pomeroy's spree. What makes a person good or evil? How do we develop as moral beings? At what age do we hold someone responsible for violating society's moral code? And what does our fascination with such ghastly deeds reveal about us?

The Wilderness of Ruin is a dazzling combination of true-crime thrills, a fresh perspective on mental illness, and a fascinating look at American class turmoil that captures the spirit of a turbulent age.

From the Back Cover:

“Supremely creepy. . . . As thrilling as it is disturbing.” —Boston Globe

In 1871, young children were disappearing from Boston’s working-class neighborhoods. The few who returned told desperate tales of being taken to the woods and tortured by a boy not much older than themselves. The police were skeptical—these children were from poor families, so their testimony was easily discounted. And after the Great Boston Fire of 1872 reduced much of downtown to rubble, the city had more pressing concerns. Finally, when the police apprehended Jesse Pomeroy for the crimes, he, like any twelve-year-old, was sent off to reform school. Little thought was given to the danger he might pose to society, despite victims’ chilling reports of this affectless Boy Torturer.

Sixteen months later, Jesse was released in the care of his mother, and within months a ten-year-old girl and a four-year-old boy went missing, their mutilated bodies later discovered by police. This set off a frantic hunt for Pomeroy, who was now proclaimed America’s youngest serial killer. When he was captured and brought to trial, his case transfixed the nation, and two public figures—Herman Melville and Oliver Wendell Holmes—each probed the depths of Pomeroy’s character in a search for the meaning behind his madness.

Roseanne Montillo takes us inside those harrowing years, as a city reeling from great disaster reckoned with the moral quandaries posed by Pomeroy’s spree.

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Book Description William Morrow Company, United States, 2015. Hardback. Book Condition: New. 231 x 157 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. In late nineteenth-century Boston, home to Herman Melville and Oliver Wendell Holmes, a serial killer preying on children is running loose in the city--a wilderness of ruin caused by the Great Fire of 1872--in this literary historical crime thriller reminiscent of The Devil in the White City. In the early 1870s, local children begin disappearing from the working-class neighborhoods of Boston. Several return home bloody and bruised after being tortured, while others never come back. With the city on edge, authorities believe the abductions are the handiwork of a psychopath, until they discover that their killer--fourteen-year-old Jesse Pomeroy--is barely older than his victims. The criminal investigation that follows sparks a debate among the world s most revered medical minds, and will have a decades-long impact on the judicial system and medical consciousness. The Wilderness of Ruin is a riveting tale of gruesome murder and depravity. At its heart is a great American city divided by class--a chasm that widens in the aftermath of the Great Fire of 1872. Roseanne Montillo brings Gilded Age Boston to glorious life--from the genteel cobblestone streets of Beacon Hill to the squalid, overcrowded tenements of Southie. Here, too, is the writer Herman Melville. Enthralled by the child killer s case, he enlists physician Oliver Wendell Holmes to help him understand how it might relate to his own mental instability. With verve and historical detail, Roseanne Montillo explores this case that reverberated through all of Boston society in order to help us understand our modern hunger for the prurient and sensational. The Wilderness of Ruin features more than a dozen black-and-white photographs. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780062273475

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