My rating: 4 of 5 stars
“Bloodstains” by Jeff Mudgett is a disturbing account of the author’s discovery of his family history. After learning his great-great grandfather was America’s first acknowledged serial killer, H.H.Holmes, Mudgett begins to question what impact that relationship might have on his own life. Holmes, whose real name was Herman Webster Mudgett, confessed to the killings of 27 individuals primarily during the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. Eventually he was executed for the murders but as Mudgett delves deeper into history he comes to believe the killer may have actually done away with hundreds, some in other countries. At times he was suspected of being Jack the Ripper although this has been largely disproved by the research of other’s. Diaries left by the senior Mudgett tell tales of torture as well as murder drawing Jeff into a downward spiral of horror. He questions if he has inherited the madness that possessed his great-great grandfather.
As he delves more deeply into the mind of the monster he begins to experience epileptic seizures when he refuses to obey the voice in his head which he believes is the voice of H.H. Holmes. Struggling with resisting the orders of the Voice and following his own moral compass he is driven to the brink of disaster.
Although written as factual I experienced a degree of disbelief as I read Mudgett’s story. While the history of Holmes has been recorded in newspapers and other literature there are portions of the story which could only have come from the killer’s own pen. Whatever the truth is the story is compelling and terrifying. This is a fascinating if sometimes difficult story to follow but well worth the read for anyone interested in crime and history.