Not too much to say except I echo the other readers who complained about this book being about everything except Jesse Pomeroy. Montillo seems to want to show her research into everything but him and we focus on the history of Boston, the Boston Great Fire, Herman freaking Melville, and honestly I think left a big question mark about whether Pomeroy was the person who murdered Katie Curran.
“The Wilderness of Ruin” is a true crime book focusing on the United States youngest serial killer, Jesse Pomeroy. Born in 1859, in Boston, the young boy had a deformity of the eye that causes a lot of people to think he was ill. Even his own father beat Pomeroy and it seems that Jesse’s sexual compulsion to whip young boys sprung from his own beatings by his father.
Between 1871 and 1872 young boys around Boston were being led away by an older boy with a strange eye who would tie them up, hang them up, and proceed to beat, whip, and in some cases stab them. Montillo then leads us to how the police eventually figure out who the abductor is and what happens next.
Unfortunately Montilio then jumps around in the book (the first of many instances) and instead of us following Pomeroy, she goes into details on Boston itself, how the fire chief at the time, John Damrell, was concerned about how Boston would someday have a fire as bad as Chicago. And I think there was also another instance of getting into Herman Melville. I honestly forget at this point, but let’s say a good 2/3 of this book had zero to do with Pomeroy.
The writing I found okay, but the flow was just terrible. I think if Montillo had kept the book focused on Pomeroy and his crimes that would have been better. The segues into other things as I mentioned above take away the main focus of this book.
The setting of the book goes from the 1850s to the 1932 and I thought how odd it was that Montillo doesn’t get into how the Great War would have affected Jesse’s family. We hear about how his older brother got married and had children and that was it. We find out about his mother, but his father is mentioned a handful of times and that’s it. It was so strange how Jesse started to feel like an after thought to this book which seemed to be all about the things that happened in Boston in a 70 year time period.