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Monday, June 27, 2016

{Book Review} The Unspeakable Crimes of Dr. Petiot by Thomas Maeder

The Unspeakable Crimes of Dr. Petiot
by Thomas Maeder
Publisher: Open Road Media
Release: June 7th 2016
Genre: Non-Fiction- Adult: True crime
How I got it: received a copy from NetGalley

The chilling true story of a serial killer who preyed on men, women, and children desperate to escape Nazi-occupied Paris.

On March 11, 1944, police were called to investigate foul-smelling smoke pouring from the chimney of an elegant private house near the Arc de Triomphe. In the basement of 21 rue Le Sueur, they made the first of many gruesome discoveries: a human hand dangling from the open door of a coal-burning stove.

Proceeding to the rear of the home, detectives found rib cages, skulls, and internal organs strewn across the floor and large piles of quicklime mixed with fragments of bone and flesh. The Gestapo had two offices in the neighborhood—were Hitler’s henchmen responsible for the carnage? Or was it the work of French Resistance fighters purging Paris of traitors and German spies?

As the investigation unfolded, a more sinister possibility emerged. The building’s owner, Dr. Marcel Petiot, was a handsome and charismatic physician whose past was littered with bizarre behavior and criminal activity. When he was finally captured eight months later, Dr. Petiot claimed he was a loyal member of the Resistance who helped kill Nazi collaborators. Prosecutors charged that he was a sadistic mass murderer who lured at least twenty-seven innocent people to their deaths with promises of escape. Estimates of the actual number of his victims ran as high as 150 men, women, and children.

Review: I wasn't sure what to think of this book. It was interesting, I'll give it that. I found it intriguing that Dr Petiot seemed to play off the Nazi occupation. Telling the police he was in the Resistance when he really wasn't and it seemed as though the Nazi's didn't care what he was doing as long as it wasn't bothering them. In the blurb Mr Maeder claim that Dr Petiot is a "sadistic mass murderer". Mass murderer, yes. But sadistic? I'm not sure. To me it seemed the dismemberment of the bodies was more a way to get rid of them, than anything sadistic. Dr Petiot seemed to be more of an opportunistic killer, who was motivated by greed not the need to kill. The trial felt like more of a theater than an courtroom.
I found the overall book to be well written and researched. It was delivered in a factual, not overly exaggerated way that made it easy to digest.

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