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The man from the train : the solving of a century-old serial killer mystery
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Library Journal Review
In early 20th-century America, an unknown man traversed the country, mainly the South and Midwest, riding the rails. He would hop off the train, usually near a small town, locate a secluded house near the tracks, and brutally murder the occupants with the blunt side of an axe. Before any alarms could be raised, he would disappear onto another train to strike elsewhere. Popular sportswriter Bill James (Popular Crime) and his daughter, writer Rachel McCarthy James, painstakingly scoured thousands of newspapers and records to piece together the bloody trail of the titular Man from the Train. Using the infamous 1912 murder of the Moore family in Villisca, IA, as a starting point, the authors worked backward locating one, then another, crime that seemed to fit together. Eventually, they settled upon a suspect. Although the circumstantial evidence for their suspect is less than desirable, they may have indeed solved this century-old case. VERDICT Fans of historical true crime will enjoy the conversational and fast-paced writing about these unsolved murders and an early 20th-century serial murderer.-Chad E. Statler, Lakeland Comm. Coll., Kirtland, OH © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
Pioneering baseball analyst Bill James (he created the Sabermetrics statistical analysis system) successfully transfers his detail-oriented mind-set to true crime in this suspenseful historical account, cowritten with his daughter, Rachel McCarthy James. The authors' focus is a series of murders, perhaps as many as 100, committed by a killer they call "the man from the train," who slaughtered entire households, mostly in the Midwest, during the first two decades of the 20th century. Beginning with the best known of the crimes-the massacre of the Moore family in Villisca, Iowa, in 1912-the Jameses identify the signature elements of the crimes: the murderer struck near train tracks, used the blunt side of an axe, left valuables behind, covered his victims' heads with cloth, and displayed a sexual interest in prepubescent females. The authors, who culled data from hundreds of thousands of small-town newspapers of the era to identify crimes not initially thought connected, build their case with an innovative mix of statistical analysis and primary sources. They conclude with a plausible identification of the culprit, but the strength of the book hangs on their diligent research and analysis connecting crimes into the closing years of the 19th century. Even those skeptical at the outset that one man was responsible for so much bloodshed are likely to be convinced. (Aug.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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