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The Mad Sculptor: The Maniac, the Model, and the Murder that Shook the Nation | [Harold Schechter]

The Mad Sculptor: The Maniac, the Model, and the Murder that Shook the Nation

Beekman Place, once one of the most exclusive addresses in Manhattan, had a curious way of making it into the tabloids in the 1930s: SKYSCRAPER SLAYER, BEAUTY SLAIN IN BATHTUB read the headlines. On Easter Sunday in 1937, the discovery of a grisly triple homicide at Beekman Place would rock the neighborhood yet again - and enthrall the nation. The young man who committed these murders would come to be known in the annals of American crime as the Mad Sculptor.
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Publisher's Summary

Beekman Place, once one of the most exclusive addresses in Manhattan, had a curious way of making it into the tabloids in the 1930s: SKYSCRAPER SLAYER, BEAUTY SLAIN IN BATHTUB read the headlines. On Easter Sunday in 1937, the discovery of a grisly triple homicide at Beekman Place would rock the neighborhood yet again - and enthrall the nation. The young man who committed these murders would come to be known in the annals of American crime as the Mad Sculptor.

Caught up in the Easter Sunday slayings was a bizarre and sensationalistic cast of characters, seemingly cooked up in a tabloid editor’s overheated imagination. The charismatic perpetrator, Robert Irwin, was a brilliant young sculptor who had studied with some of the masters of the era. But with his genius also came a deeply disturbed psyche; Irwin was obsessed with sexual self-mutilation and was frequently overcome by outbursts of violent rage.

Irwin’s primary victim, Veronica Gedeon, was a figure from the world of pulp fantasy - a stunning photographer’s model whose scandalous seminude pinups would titillate the public for weeks after her death. Irwin’s defense attorney, Samuel Leibowitz, was a courtroom celebrity with an unmatched record of acquittals and clients ranging from Al Capone to the Scottsboro Boys. And Dr. Fredric Wertham, psychiatrist and forensic scientist, befriended Irwin years before the murders and had predicted them in a public lecture months before the crime.

Based on extensive research and archival records, The Mad Sculptor recounts the chilling story of the Easter Sunday murders - a case that sparked a nationwide manhunt and endures as one of the most engrossing American crime dramas of the 20th century. Harold Schechter’s masterly prose evokes the faded glory of post-Depression New York and the singular madness of a brilliant mind turned against itself. It will keep you riveted until the very end.

©2014 Harold Schechter (P)2013 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved.

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.2 (183 )
5 star
 (31)
4 star
 (47)
3 star
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Overall
3.2 (162 )
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Story
3.6 (161 )
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    William R. Toddmancillas Chico, California United States 08-03-14
    William R. Toddmancillas Chico, California United States 08-03-14 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The Mad Sculptor"
    Where does The Mad Sculptor rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    High but not highest.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    I did not much care for any of the characters.


    Have you listened to any of Peter Berkrot’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No. The narrator is excellent.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    No. It is a straightforward story about a dastardly crime. As far as crimes go, not a particularly interesting one at that.


    Any additional comments?

    Technically, this is a good production. The story itself, however, is not all that interesting. I think the author could have gleaned material more piquant than included herein.

    19 of 22 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michal Potwin, KS, United States 08-12-14
    Michal Potwin, KS, United States 08-12-14 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
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    "Awful!"

    The story jumps around so much you never know who is being discussed. I tried listening for about 3 hours and I still had no idea what the plot line was supposed to be. Don't waste your time or money

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karen Rochester, MI, United States 09-16-14
    Karen Rochester, MI, United States 09-16-14 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
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    "too disconnected"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    Someone from New York, or older than me.


    What was most disappointing about Harold Schechter’s story?

    It did not hold my attention, I felt like it was a few stories held together by a thin thread.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    none comes to mind


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    history of New York true crime story


    Any additional comments?

    it wasn't horrible just not engrossing enough to keep my attention.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Galadriel 03-24-14
    Galadriel 03-24-14 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Forgotten Crime of the Century"
    Any additional comments?

    Like the better novels in this genre, this is a fascinating and creepy look at the shocking crimes engendered by a truly distorted mind, and the ensuing media frenzy that would inspire the classic play (and later films) titled "The Front Page." The author gives us a keen sense of the time and place of these events, enriched by the thoughts of the people who came into contact with both the killer and his victims. One of the best of it's kind.

    15 of 20 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Memyselfhjb Arnolds park, ia, United States 03-23-14
    Memyselfhjb Arnolds park, ia, United States 03-23-14 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "Pick a Topic"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    No. The reason why is simple I hate books I cannot follow, after about three hours I could not figure out why the author was introducing a whole cast of characters that had nothing to do with " the mad sculptor".


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    Well In my humble opinion I thought the book could be a little less chaotic.


    What three words best describe Peter Berkrot’s voice?

    Over the top


    Do you think The Mad Sculptor needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    No


    Any additional comments?

    Loved the title, did not love this book. I love true crime this book was all over the place.

    17 of 23 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Roxanne LePard 09-30-14 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Horrible!"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    Maybe someone more interested in the details than the story.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Harold Schechter again?

    Maybe


    What didn’t you like about Peter Berkrot’s performance?

    Very dry with no emotion.


    Any additional comments?

    I couldn't get through it.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Traveling Munni 08-13-14 Member Since 2014

    culture creature

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    "Decent Experience, but rather jumbled"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    If I had to recommend this to a group of people it would be history/crime buffs who will listen to this with their undivided attention. If you give this book any less than 100%, at least in my experience, you quickly become lost.


    What could Harold Schechter have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    While to subject itself was rather interesting the actual book itself seemed to try and cover two related, but different topics. An extremely large portion of this book was focused on one murder case where to book gets most of it's title "The Mad Sculptor", but then there are random off shoots to other crimes that happened in one particular building. While I enjoyed them it made this book extremely jarring one minute I'm following a killer and then BAM something else is going on.


    What didn’t you like about Peter Berkrot’s performance?

    It was okay, the entire performance seemed really angry though which was off putting. Maybe it was just the genre?


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    My main reaction was disappointment, it really seemed like this should have been two separate books. One focusing on the "Mad Sculptor" case and the other either an over view of all these cases or a book dedicated to all the murders that happened in that complex.


    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sandra 07-06-14
    Sandra 07-06-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Enjoyable and Interesting"
    If you could sum up The Mad Sculptor in three words, what would they be?

    Harold Schechter knows how to write. I have read many of his books but this is the first that I've listened to.


    10 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Charles Salley, SC, United States 04-13-14
    Charles Salley, SC, United States 04-13-14 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great , interesting story!!!"
    What did you love best about The Mad Sculptor?

    I was amazed at the mind of the Mad Sculptor, Bob Irwin and how it operated and managed to stay free and untouched for years.


    What other book might you compare The Mad Sculptor to and why?

    I really don't think a comparison is possible. This is a unique, stand alone novel.


    Which character – as performed by Peter Berkrot – was your favorite?

    Bob Irwin, of course.


    If you could give The Mad Sculptor a new subtitle, what would it be?

    Totally Gone


    8 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nora Pocatello, ID, United States 08-12-14
    Nora Pocatello, ID, United States 08-12-14

    12 n \\\\ Born and grew up in Scotland. No species of book I do not love. Favorite genre History, thrillers, biography, memoirs etc

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "AWFUL!"
    Would you try another book from Harold Schechter and/or Peter Berkrot?

    One of the worst books in a long time. Bought it on sale, NO bargain. Production is flawed and annoying. There is no story really.


    Has The Mad Sculptor turned you off from other books in this genre?

    Yes, Yes, Yes


    How could the performance have been better?

    Very much so.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    NONE


    Any additional comments?

    If you like this genre try another book.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
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