The Man From the Train

The Man From the Train

The Solving of A Century-old Serial Killer Mystery

Book - 2017
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"Using unprecedented, dramatically compelling sleuthing techniques, legendary statistician and baseball writer Bill James applies his analytical acumen to crack an unsolved century-old mystery surrounding one of the deadliest serial killers in American history. Between 1898 and 1912, families across the country were bludgeoned in their sleep with the blunt side of an axe. Jewelry and valuables were left in plain sight, bodies were piled together, faces covered with cloth. Some of these cases, like the infamous Villasca, Iowa, murders, received national attention. But few people believed the crimes were related. And fewer still would realize that all of these families lived within walking distance to a train station. When celebrated baseball statistician and true crime expert Bill James first learned about these horrors, he began to investigate others that might fit the same pattern. Applying the same know-how he brings to his legendary baseball analysis, he empirically determined which crimes were committed by the same person. Then after sifting through thousands of local newspapers, court transcripts, and public records, he and his daughter Rachel made an astonishing discovery: they learned the true identity of this monstrous criminal. In turn, they uncovered one of the deadliest serial killers in America. Riveting and immersive, with writing as sharp as the cold side of an axe, The Man from the Train paints a vivid, psychologically perceptive portrait of America at the dawn of the twentieth century, when crime was regarded as a local problem, and opportunistic private detectives exploited a dysfunctional judicial system. James shows how these cultural factors enabled such an unspeakable series of crimes to occur, and his groundbreaking approach to true crime will convince skeptics, amaze aficionados, and change the way we view criminal history"--"Between 1898 and 1912, families across the country were bludgeoned in their sleep with the blunt side of an axe. Jewelry and valuables were left in plain sight, bodies were piled together, faces covered with cloth. Some of these cases, like the infamous Villasca, Iowa murders, received national attention. But few people believed the crimes were related. And fewer still would realize that all of these families lived within walking distance to a train station. When celebrated baseball statistician and true crime expert Bill James first learned about these crimes, he began to investigate others that might fit the same pattern. Applying the analytical acumen he brings to baseball analysis, he empirically determined which crimes were committed by the same person. Then after sifting through thousands of local newspapers, court transcripts and public records, he and his daughter Rachel made an astonishing discovery. They learned the true identity of this monstrous criminal, and in turn, uncovered one of the deadliest serial killers in American history. Riveting and immersive, with writing as sharp as the cold side of an axe, The Man From the Train is a groundbreaking approach to true crime that will convince skeptics, delight aficionados, and change the way we view criminal history"--
Publisher: New York : Scribner, 2017.
Edition: First Scribner hardcover edition.
ISBN: 9781476796260
1476796262
9781476796253
1476796254
Branch Call Number: 364.1523209
Characteristics: xi, 464 pages ; 24 cm
Additional Contributors: James, Rachel McCarthy - Author

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joinseattle
Dec 11, 2017

While this book may have been meticulously researched, it could have used a good editor. The jokes are lame and inappropriate, given the subject matter. And the details could have been put in an appendix. Quite the slog.

AL_LESLEY Dec 10, 2017

A quote from the authors represents the struggles I had with this book.

"We're not sociologists or psychologists or criminologists or detectives. We're not even real historians. We're just writers."

This book is overly long, written very oddly and could have used some dedicated editing, and I disliked how the authors spoke directly to me and made jokes as if we were sitting down to coffee. And there were so many statements about train routes, distances from train lines, and whole series of murders in routine directions and distances, but no maps or drawings to show me. That was unfortunate.

But I can see the dedication and the obsession of solving these crimes about which they did great research. The crimes themselves are chilling and the author's suppositions weren't too bad and I really liked the big reveal at the end.

AnnabelleLee27 Nov 17, 2017

Facinating true-crime book which examines and successfully attempts to find the man behind a series of axe murders committed from 1898 through 1912 (including the well known1912 Moore family murder in Villisca, Iowa). Bill James, a baseball statistician & historian, & his daughter, Rachel McCarthy James, analyze and present a chillingly compelling view of a wandering serial killer which they put in historical context with a view of psychology, life, society and law enforcement of that time period. The tone is conversational & sprinkled with dry humor (warning - this will not be to everyone's taste) but the authors insist that the reader recognize the humanity of the victims and those who were falsely accused - some of whom were lynched or executed. The final reveal of the killer is convincing and satisfying.

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