Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read.” —Groucho Marx

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Wilderness of Ruin by Roseanne Montillo--A Review


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.


This was indeed a book of a different sort, and as a result, I am very torn in my review of the book.  It was definitely a historic look back into the 1800's of Boston and to the life and times of Jesse Pomeroy....a child serial killer when barely more than a child himself.  

The story of Jesse Pomeroy was most disturbing and truly sad.  I would have preferred that Montillo  provide an in depth work on what causes a person to be without remorse or to be so vicious.  And I was convinved there would be more to Pomeroy's story than rotting in prison or a mental institution.   But, his story was but a small part of this book.    The tale went from Pomeroy to various authors of the day, Herman Melville, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Nathaniel Hawthorne....the more famous authors of the day.  Although for myself, I enjoyed this glimpse into the lives and times of these authors, I saw very little relevance for them appearing in the book.   The connection with the Pomeroy boy was minimal and fruitless at best.

Montillo does have a very interesting writing style and her work flows smoothly and is easily read.  It was obvious that she thoroughly researched her topic.   If success is measured by how long a book stays with you, I am sure this one will be in some far recess for the remainder of my life and for that, I am rating the read a 3.5 Winks!

Disclaimer:  I read for my pleasure.   I may receive ARC copies for review purposes, but I am not compensated for my reviews .  I like to read and I like to share my reviews.   I post my thoughts without prejudice or bias.  The words are mine and I write reviews based on my humble opinion.  I will admit, I seldom meet a book I don't like.  I received a copy of this book from the author or their representative in exchange for an honest review.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

This book seems awesome! It could be totally up my alley.

... I actually found my way back here from a comment you posted on my blog, The Cosy Dragon, about 3 years ago! I'm looking at connecting with people I've known from the beginning to do some sharing about how awesome our blogs are!! Let me know if you're interested :)

Rose @ The Cosy Dragon