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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

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

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!

20 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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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!

47 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

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.

94 people found this helpful

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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.

19 people found this helpful

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~ 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!


9 people found this helpful

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Intriguing. a very fascinating story

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

18 people found this helpful

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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.

3 people found this helpful

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Excellent story telling - Bravo!

I’ve known about the story of Ed Gein for a long time so I almost didn’t pick up this book. I relented and I’m glad I did. Everything about this book is exceptional. The macabre tale of Gein’s crimes is without parallel in the annals of horror - much more so because it is true. The author has gone to great lengths to research the topic of the murders. I was surprised by how much I didn’t know. The best part of the book is the narration. It’s spot-on - matter-of-fact, but not remotely boring. In fact the narrator underscores just how absolutely appalling and twisted Gein was without falling into any overemphasis traps. That takes enormous self-control. He lets the facts speak for themselves without the slightest over dramatization, tear jerking or manipulation. Just perfect. I highly recommend this book.

2 people found this helpful

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Well read!

I thought this well very well written, researched and read. The narrator really fit the writing.

5 people found this helpful

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Interesting Way to Follow a Bizarre Story

I love true crime: novels, audiobooks, podcasts, documentaries, Tv shows, you name it, I'll consume it.

This was a very well written following of a strange man whose life is mostly known through the movies that he inspired. But the truth is stranger than any movie.

I wish the author didn't bounce around the timeline as much and I swear there are sections where he word for word copied paragraphs from other sections to pad the length. But I enjoyed the narrator, even if he pronounced "defendant" in the strangest way (de-fen-dANT).

5 people found this helpful