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The Wilderness of Ruin: A Tale of Madness, Fire, and the Hunt for America's Youngest Serial Killer
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HarperCollins 2015
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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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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
03/17/2015
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780062273499
ASIN:
B00KAC8AKA

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APA Citation (style guide)

Roseanne Montillo. (2015). The Wilderness of Ruin: A Tale of Madness, Fire, and the Hunt for America's Youngest Serial Killer. HarperCollins.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Roseanne Montillo. 2015. The Wilderness of Ruin: A Tale of Madness, Fire, and the Hunt for America's Youngest Serial Killer. HarperCollins.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Roseanne Montillo, The Wilderness of Ruin: A Tale of Madness, Fire, and the Hunt for America's Youngest Serial Killer. HarperCollins, 2015.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Roseanne Montillo. The Wilderness of Ruin: A Tale of Madness, Fire, and the Hunt for America's Youngest Serial Killer. HarperCollins, 2015.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2022. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.

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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.

reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Mitchell Zuckoff, author of the New York Times bestsellers Lost in Shangri-La and Frozen in Time
      • content:

        "The Wilderness of Ruin is a captivating tale of depravity in the Athens of America. Roseanne Montillo masterfully conjures a lost Boston where a teen-age 'demon' hunts children and the city itself is a tinderbox ripe for the flames." — Mitchell Zuckoff, author of the New York Times bestsellers Lost in Shangri-La and Frozen in Time

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

        "A compulsively fascinating and chilling read on the nature of evil." — Minneapolis Star Tribune

        "A riveting true-crime tale that rivals anything writers in the 21st century could concoct. ... [Montillo is] a masterly storyteller." — Publishers Weekly

        "A lively, evocative reinvigoration of Boston's Gilded Age. ... Cinematic. ... A chillingly drawn, expertly researched slice of grim Boston history." — Kirkus Reviews

        "A dramatically told history of murder, madness, and urban growing pains." — Shelf Awareness

      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        January 19, 2015
        Delving deep into the history of Boston circa the 19th century, Montillo (The Lady and Her Monsters) unearths a riveting true-crime tale that rivals anything writers in the 21st century could concoct. Jesse Harding Pomeroy, an adolescent from a deeply troubled family, earns notoriety in working-class Boston and surrounding towns by kidnapping and torturing young boys. The sensational journalism of the period soon turns him into a subject of grotesque fascination in the city and beyond. After Jesse is apprehended by court order and sent off to reform school, his mother secures a commutation that returns the teenager to the city, with monstrous results. A masterly storyteller, Montillo skillfully evokes the poor and patrician neighborhoods that served as a backdrop for the crimes, particularly after the 1872 fire that ravaged the city center. The police investigations that tracked down Jesse are stunning in their similarity to modern-day sleuthing. Alongside the graphic, disturbing details of Pomeroy’s crimes, Montillo chronicles the contemporary fascination with mental illness by writers such as Herman Melville, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and other paragons of 19th-century Boston. A host of doctors and lawyers also figure prominently in these pages, as they all try to understand what drove a young boy to commit horrific crimes that gripped a city for decades. B&w illus. Agent: Rob Weisbach, Rob Weisbach Creative Management.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        February 1, 2015

        In the early 1870s, a mentally disabled teenager named Jesse Pomeroy preyed on children in and around Boston, capturing, torturing, and in a few cases killing his victims. Montillo (The Lady and Her Monsters) tells his story, with all the grisly details, in this fascinating book. Pomeroy's crimes captured public attention well beyond Boston and led to increased debate about the appropriate punishment and treatment for mentally ill criminals. The gruesome tale is supplemented by frequent diversions into Boston history, including an account of the fire that swept the city in 1872, a chronicle of prisons in the region, and a sketch of the noted physician Oliver Wendell Holmes. These asides combine to give an effective picture of the metropolis and its influential citizens and institutions in the decades following the Civil War. The longest sections, outside of those on Pomeroy, are devoted to novelist Herman Melville, who had his own struggles with mental illness, both in his characters and in himself. Montillo does not draw a very compelling parallel between Melville and Pomeroy, but the passages about the author of Moby-Dick are interesting nonetheless. VERDICT Recommended for readers who enjoy American history, especially those interested in Boston or the history of crime and punishment. [See Prepub Alert, 9/14/14.]--Nicholas Graham, Univ. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

        Copyright 2015 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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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...

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