Saturday, July 21, 2012
The Terrible Axe-Man of New Orleans, by Rick Geary
The Terrible Axe-Man of New Orleans
by Rick Geary
New York: NBM Publishing
A spree of hideous murders in 1918 New Orleans horrifies the nation and holds a city frantic in its terrifying grasp.
Like his graphic novel about the Lindbergh kidnapping, Geary uses the documented facts of the police investigation and the media sources of the day to recreate the famous case -- in this instance, it's the brutal attacks on a dozen residents of New Orleans over a period of several months. Most were Italian immigrants that owned or worked at small grocery stores; the killer broke into their house in the wee hours and used their own household axes to slaughter them. (The murder scenes are gory, but in black and white somewhat less gruesome than they could be.) Surprisingly, only half of the victims die; the other six are badly wounded but survive.
The book covers the mysterious midnight break-ins and savage attacks, the New Orleans manhunt and media frenzy, the trial and conviction of two suspects -- and their eventual exoneration! -- and the shocking aftermath where a victim's widow shoots down a man that she says killed her husband. 8th through 12th-graders may enjoy the details of the case, and may have their own speculations about the questions left unanswered after the investigation.
Media: pen and ink