Mortal Remains: A True Story of Ritual Murder

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9780060992439: Mortal Remains: A True Story of Ritual Murder

An account of the organized underworld of ritualistic terror operating in a picturesque Massachusetts town discusses the work of police, forensic scientists, and anthropologists to piece together a series of crimes. Reprint.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

A cool-tempered combination of police science and forensic anthropology that tells of satanic murders in Fall River, Mass.- -where Lizzie Borden chopped up her parents. Scammell, a free-lancer who writes about aerospace, medicine, and archaeology, was assisted by Douglas Ubelaker, a ``bone man'' from the Smithsonian, in writing this true-crime expos‚ that reads more like an adventure in evidence-gathering. Revolving around Carl Drew--a Satanist and pimp with Manson-like powers who ordered his followers to kill two young prostitutes and 20-year-old Karen Marsden, whose skull fragment is the main piece of evidence in the forensic jigsaw puzzle--the ``lurid metaphysics'' of devil worship and ritual sacrifice take back seat here to detailed accounts of how police and prosecutors made sense out of a murder case with no body. Instead, they had to rely on bones, hair clumps, torn clothing, and the contradictory testimonies of the accused and his accomplices. Unfortunately, Scammell often resorts to the Dragnet- style Q&As to integrate the mounds of interrogation transcripts. He is most interesting when he wanders from the narrative path and treats us to brief histories of skeletology, religious cults, and even Lizzie Borden's life. For the most part, though, Scammell's misplaced emphasis on technicalities makes us forget the real hideousness of the case. Though neatly written and edited, Scammell's story of sex, slaughter, and Satanism is too dry to live up to its subject. -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Library Journal:

In this story of ritual murder in Fall River, Massachusetts in the late 1970s, the victims and suspects are pimps and prostitutes who practice satanic worship. While this book works best when detailing dogged police efforts to solve the murders, it is less compelling when describing the killers and their victims. The Manson-like character at the center of the book seems to be playing out dark and dangerous fantasies with victims who are passive to the point of inertia. One young mother goes to her death frightened but resigned. Little space is devoted to describing the rituals or even making the cult seem real. The book may not help anyone gain insight into the mind of satanic worshippers because one is left suspecting the satanic rituals were merely a way to embellish murders that would have taken place anyway. Recommended for crime collections.
-Lois Walker, Winthrop Coll. Lib., Rock Hill, S.C.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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