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New Release Review: AMERICAN MURDER HOUSES by Steve Lehto

Well, I was reading it Halloween week… 😉

American Murder Houses: A Coast-to-Coast Tour of the Most Notorious Houses of Homicide
by Steve Lehto

Synopsis:

There are places in the United States of America where violent acts of bloodshed have occurred.

Years may pass—even centuries—but the mark of death remains.

They are known as Murder Houses.

From a colonial manse in New England to a small-town home in Iowa to a Beverly Hills mansion, these residences have taken on a life of their own, gaining everything from local lore and gossip to national—and even global—infamy.

Writer Steve Lehto recounts the stories behind the houses where Lizzie Borden supposedly gave her stepmother “forty whacks,” where the real Amityville Horror was first unleashed by gunfire, and where the demented acts of the Manson Family horrified a nation—as well some lesser-known sites of murder that were no less ghastly.

Exploring the past and present of more than twenty-five renowned homicide scenes, American Murder Houses is a tour through the real estate of some of the most grisly and fascinating crimes in American history.

INCLUDES PHOTOGRAPHS

 

Review:

I do enjoy reading true crime stories, and may have a slight addiction to The New Detectives and Forensic Files (everyone binge watches them, surely?) so picking this one up was a bit of a no-brainer.

This book offers an interesting perspective and is a quick read, though overall there were some odd bits to it. Lehto did a decent job of summarizing the crimes and their aftermath, but sometimes his writing just felt…off. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what bothered me much of the time–odd phrasing, I guess? He also frequently seemed to be trying to put himself above “all those people” who found his topic fascinating…which was more than a little annoying. If he didn’t have an interest, then why did he write it? For purely financial reasons?

I did learn of some new murders that I hadn’t heard of before, and found out some interesting new details about some that I had. I’m not sure how I feel about the fact that he gives the addresses of all the homes (even those that changed their addresses to avoid “murder house fans”), though. Sure, people could probably find them out easily enough, but I’d personally make them work for it.

I would also have really liked to see a picture of every house…at least the ones that are still standing and able to be photographed. The photo section is pretty slim. Though it was an entertaining way to pass the time overall, I’m not sure if I’d race to read another book by the author.

Rating: 3 1/2 stars / B-

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