Tag Archives: Murder & Mayhem


Litercurious Book Review

Ghost of the Orphanage – Christine Kenneally


Christine Kenneally PhD., is a proud Antipodean born in Melbourne. She is an exceptional, renown award-winning journalist and author. She holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in Linguistics from Cambridge University.

Her debut non-fiction manuscript, “The First Word: The Search for the Origins of Language,” earned her a  place as a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Her next publication, “The Invisible History of the Human Race: How DNA and History Shape Our Identities and Our Futures,” was well received, being included in the New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2014. The investigation that would become the inspiration for Ghosts of the Orphanage began with a piece that she was researching whilst working as a senior contributor for BuzzFeed. Her report was published in August of 2018 and was hugely successful; winning an Online Journalism Award. Christine Kenneally also contributed to the Official Police Investigation into the crimes that took place at St. Joseph’s Orphanage. 


Ghosts of the Orphanage is a stirring masterpiece of investigative journalism. Christine Kenneally shares her exploration of the atrocities committed on the wards of St. Joseph’s Orphanage by their ecclesiastical key turns. What follows is a catalogue of crimes that were subjected to police investigation. An investigation that exposed the daily routine horrors that the children endured during their time as reluctant guests of St. Joseph’s reprehensible clerical form of hospitality. 

Ghosts of the Orphanage present’s a panoply of horrific first person recollections of historic, systemic, and religious sponsored child abuse. Kenneally documents multiple victims accounts that coalesce into nightmarish clarity. She exposes the range of neglect and abuse that include: verbal, physical, sexual, mindless violence, cruelty and psychological tortures metered out to the wards of St. Joseph’s. The innocent children would go on to suffer lifetimes of horror, depression, survivors’ guilt, and nightmares.

Keanneally primarily focuses on the accounts of five victims; revealing their vivid and disturbing back-stories. The author exposes the gross and disturbing traumas of the former captives through her skillful dogged determination and dedicated research methods. Through her persistent and unrelenting efforts, she blows the whistle on the generational systematic abuse and neglect that resulted in so many casualties. Internee’s of these religious institutions, according to Kenneally, were subjected to crimes of the most egregious natures. These poor victims suffered decade after decade whilst their alleged abusers still remain unpunished.

It is common among children that endured such abhorrent treatment to self-medicate in later life. They suffer neurological problems, substance abuse issues and difficulties with interpersonal relationships. Many survivors attempted to suppress their recollections of the trauma to which they had been subjected; insightfully, Kenneally includes this in her observations.


Christine Kenneally skillfully uncovers a culture of dehumanization and abuse on an industrial scale at St. Joseph’s Orphanage. She applies considerable talents to uncovering the evidence that include: first-person accounts, primary sources, diary extracts, and a range of official documentation to expose the heinous crimes committed against untold numbers of children over decades. The evidence recovered reveals the dark devilish history of the orphanage and the evil actions of the demon inspired clergy.

Ghosts of the Orphanage is an important work as it documents, not just the numerous crimes committed against the children, but also exposes the conspiracy of silence.

This book will likely effect the reader on many personal and emotional levels. It may leave you haunted, angry, sad, and even a little vengeful. The graphic descriptions of mindless cruelty, physical and psychological tortures make the blood run cold. It would be bad enough if this culture of terror was an isolated incident; but a brief internet search will reveal that the same culture spanned the globe in numerous religious institutions. These poor children suffered such great atrocities at the hands of their jailers, and it seems no one cared. The feelings that this book engendered in me are intense and difficult to forget.

Ghosts of the Orphanage makes for difficult reading. I found myself profoundly moved by the graphic nature of the horrors described. The children’s recollections left me with a deep sense of unease and were extremely emotive.

I would like to tell you that the victim accounts are the worst part of this book. However, the decades of abuse remain unpunished to this day, leaving the victims without meaningful justice. The casualties are left to suffer the emotional and psychological fall-out of their abuse leaving them to exist in an uncaring, disinterested world. A world who has yet to discover the degrees of horrors which plagued their young lives.

The narrative instilled a longlasting impression upon me and an infinite number of questions. There is one question that haunts me still:

What ever happened to little Mary Clark?

Be prepared to be enraged. 

Rating: 4 out of 5.


I would like to thank Christine Kenneally, PublicAffairs and NetGalley for affording me the opportunity to review Ghosts of the Orphanage: A Story of Mysterious Deaths, a Conspiracy of Silence, and a Search for Justice .


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Litercurious Book Review

Nothing But The Night By Greg King & Penny Wilson
Nothing But The Night By Greg King & Penny Wilson
TitleNothing But The Night
AuthorGreg King and Penny Wilson
PublisherSt. Martin’s Press (September 20, 2022)
FormatKindle, Hardcover, and Audiobook
GenreTrue Crime, Murder & Mayhem, United States History
ISBN # 978-1250272669


Greg King is the author of many internationally published works of history, including The Last Voyage of the Andrea Doria. His work has appeared in the Washington PostMajesty MagazineRoyalty Magazine and Royalty Digest. He lives in the Seattle area.

Greg King bio source: Macmillan

Penny Wilson is the author of Lusitania and The Last Voyage of the Andrea Doria with Greg King and several internationally published works of history on late Imperial Russia. Her historical work has appeared in Majesty MagazineAtlantis Magazine, and Royalty Digest. She lives in Southern California with her husband and three Huskies.

Penny Wilson bio source: Macmillan


On 21 May, 1924, 14-year-old Robert “Bobby” Franks was found brutally murdered. Bobby was the son of a millionaire business owner. Although murders were commonplace, Bobby Franks killing was, arguably, the first of its kind for America; its first “thrill killing.”

The two accused, both teenagers, viewed themselves as Übermensch; a phrase meaning Supermen as described by nihilist and philosopher Frederick Nietzsche in his book1 Thus Spake Zarathustra. Übermensch is a term to describe men for whom the normal rules do not apply. The grim truth of the crime was even more vomitus than anyone could ever imagine.

Dubbed “the crime of the century,” the court case proved to reveal more than the details of a crime, but introduced America to a sickening new criminal trend; the thrill killers! In the dock were the two accused: 18-year-old Richard “Dick” Loeb and 19-year-old Nathan “Babe” Leopold Junior.

Richard Loeb was the son of a wealthy lawyer who became a senior executive at Sears, Roebuck & Company. He was handsome, well-healed, charming and liked by his peers. Next to Loeb sat his co-conspirator, Nathan Leopold Jr. In contrast to Loeb, Leopold was described as “sinister.” He was once admired for his prodigious intelligence and yet he appeared to some of his cohorts to be “peculiar” because of his haughty attitude and aloof nature; preferring book-learning to social situations. 

Due to the nature of the crime, the two teenagers faced a charge of murder in the first degree. Their legal counsel was the highly esteemed defense attorney, 67-year-old, Clarence Darrow Esquire. Who was arguably the most feared attorney in America at the time. 

Their case was infamous for being the first recognized case of a ‘thrill kill.’ It was also noteworthy due to the fact that it was extensively planned and coordinated for the sole purpose of committing the ‘perfect’ crime and escaping subsequent justice. You can probably appreciate by now that the latter part of the plan failed, or we would not be here analyzing it today. A crime committed not by the usual suspects, but exceptional because of the social status of the individuals, their education and their religious/national identity.

The horrendous crime that Leopold and Loeb committed was so complex, notorious and shocking to the world, that it inspired Alfred Hitchcock to write the 1948 movie Rope starring James Stewart.


In a carefully crafted narrative, King and Wilson breathe new life into an old case of murder and mayhem with this, their latest literary masterpiece. Nothing But The Night is a high quality detailed accounting of ‘the murder of the century,’ as it was labeled at the time. The authors provide an unocculted view into the devious nature of the two murderers covering how they conspired together to kill without risk of capture. They guide us through the comprehensive, elaborate, and intricate planning that preceded the crime; to the actual murder, their eventual apprehension and their subsequent trial.

The trial is the end of the book, but the beginning of the conundrum. It is a view into the minds of men who believe that they were outside the norm, superior in every way, exceptional, special and entitled. They believed they held dominion over the life of their chosen, hapless victim.

King and Wilson avoid the trap of focusing on the deviancy of the two men, Leopold and Loeb. Hints of sexual indiscretion are implied but not explicit. Some things are obvious without reference, and this technique adds to the power of the work overall.

There are some books that one reads and discards without a second thought, and then there are others that resonate with us. Well, this is a work that you will contemplate for some time. You will find yourself dwelling on some aspect of the story, and weeks or months later still remember the contents and imagery of this book.

Nothing But The Night is written with consummate skill and unrivaled clarity. It is an exceptional work of its kind, and an absolute must have for true crime aficionados, students of psychology, law, or criminal justice.

If you enjoyed todays review and would like to see more of the same subject matter please like, comment and subscribe for more content.

1Nietzsche F. Thomas Common (trans.), New York: The Modern Library Press, 2017 (1883–5).

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.



BARRED: Why the innocent can’t get out of prison

By Daniel Medwed

American Demon – Review

Litercurious Book Review

American Demon by Daniel Stashower
American Demon by Daniel Stashower
TitleAmerican Demon: Eliot Ness and the Hunt for
America’s Jack the Ripper
AuthorDaniel Stashower
PublisherMinotaur Books (September 6, 2022)
FormatKindle, Hardback, Audiobook
GenreTrue Crime, Serial Killers True Accounts
ISBN #978-1250041166


It could equally have been called the Beast of Kingsbury Run, Cleveland. AKA Cleveland’s Torso Killer Quote: “Slays in the same manner as Jack the Ripper.”  Loc 57. Page number in this book unavailable.


Daniel Stashower is an acclaimed biographer and narrative historian and winner of the Edgar, Agatha, and Anthony awards, as well as the Raymond Chandler Fulbright Fellowship in Detective Fiction. His work has appeared in The New York TimesThe Washington PostSmithsonian Magazine

Excerpt taken from Amazon.


American Demon is written by the highly regarded biographer and historian Daniel Stashower. In this his most recent publication Stashower documents the life, times, and cases of the eponymous Detective Eliot Ness. American Demon focuses on Ness’ most notable cases: The Cleveland Torso Killer, Al Capone and one that got away; the aptly labeled, American Demon.

Daniel used a diverse range of research resources that included: Eliot Ness’ original Manuscripts and the Library of Congress Manuscript Division; as well as books, magazines and journals. Written in a biographical style, Stashower catalogues Ness’ meteoric rise from his humble beginnings as the youngest son of an immigrant family, through his education in law enforcement and to his involvement with some of America’s most ignominious and memorable cases. 


American Demon by Daniel Stashower, is an interesting historical account of the trials, successes, and tribulations of Eliot Ness’ many high profile criminal investigations. 

Stashower’s narrative is easy to read, informative, expertly researched and concise. It was not the monograph I was expecting, but a compendium of Ness’ cases across his career. It was remarkably interesting learning about his various cases; some of which I was unacquainted with. 

There is much to discover in this notable work. If you find the accounts discussed in this tome worthy of further research, Stashower  provides an extensive bibliography for your reference.

I highly recommend American Demon: Eliot Ness and the Hunt for America’s Jack the Ripper.

Rating: 4 out of 5.


I would like to thank Daniel Stashower, Minotaur Books, and NetGalley for affording me the opportunity to review American Demon: Eliot Ness and the Hunt for America’s Jack the Ripper.