The gentleman from Chicago is or rather was the repeater-killer Thomas Neill Cream, M.D., whom you have met more briefly in...

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THE GENTLEMAN FROM CHICAGO

The gentleman from Chicago is or rather was the repeater-killer Thomas Neill Cream, M.D., whom you have met more briefly in other annals of crime and whose whole autobiography has been recreated in his own words in collusion with the actual facts. Thomas Cream, growing up tough and ambitious on the Quebec waterfront, decided to become a physician with poison as his specialty (""Medicine was his profession, and poison was his interest. Murder was his trade, and cruelty was his lust""). He was also a man of large physical appetites and stamina except for the headaches which plagued him increasingly and drove him to a dependence on opium and morphine. His first almost-victim was a drunk and dirty old man; from then on he devoted himself primarily to the ladies, having impregnated, aborted and abandoned a wife en route. An early trial in America sent him to Joliet for ten years; a later trial in England, after the disposition of four others, to the hangman. Cream killed indiscriminately in the full possession of his powers -- on that basis he could be adjudged sane even where he is obviously as psychologically impaired as any of his predecessors (rumor maintains he met his end mumbling ""I am Jack the..."") or successors. Cashman has retold his story with the graphic, ugly hook of realism -- little else can be salvaged from it.

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 1973

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1973