Being (a subtitle to expire on,)""The Incredible but True Story of Herman W. Mudgett Alias H.H. Holmes, the Most Fiendish Killer in the Annals of American Crime""--a bluest bearded ladykiller in both senses of the word who figured in Robert Bloch's last novel, American Gothic (1974). Bloch only used Holmes' activities in Chicago where around the turn of the century he had his famous mansion or ""castle"" which proved to be a people stockyard. Here the whole story is told beginning with the end of it--the gumshoed legwork of a detective, Frank Geyer, who related the death of a dealer in patents, B.F. Perry, a most decomposed corpse, to a man called Pitezel whose daughters and son had also disappeared. Long before that Holmes had been a confidence man with lots of quick-change schemes, collecting on insurance policies, and a string of creditors, wives and aliases cross-country before Geyer brought him to book and trial. Holmes would later admit to a grand total of 27 victims. The case is one of the great criminal curiosities and Franke tells his story without licking his mutton chops or curling your hair. He has a respect for the facts which surfaced slowly in a susceptible age when you could disappear off the face of the earth into a trunk, a vault or a kiln.