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The grisly story of a mass murderer whose career began in a small way in a small French village and burgeoned in wartime Paris where he murdered at least 150 people who sought his aid in escaping the Nazis. They paid him, and he got them out--but not as they expected. Marcel Petiot was an unbalanced child, incontinent until age 13, who loved to eviscerate small animals and torture birds and insects (perhaps, separated from his parents, taking out on them his feelings of worthlessness and self-loathing). During World War I he faked mental illness and eventually received a 100 percent disability pension. Later he became a surgeon, got his mistress pregnant, and gave her an embolism with a needle. After marrying a well-to-do young lady, he took on an older unmarried dairy owner as his mistress, spotted her wealth in a hidden cashbox, murdered her with a hammer, and then burned down her house. But it was in Paris that he gathered in over $15 million in cash, property, and jewels from victims who came to his office expecting to be passed along an underground route to freedom. Finally, attracted by the odor of burning flesh from his chimney, firemen broke in and discovered two furnaces red with burning bodies, a cellar filled with limbs awaiting cremation, and a lime pit filled with rotting bodies. Petiot went to the guillotine refusing to acknowledge guilt: ""I am a traveler who is taking all of his baggage with him,"" he said under the blade. Only for the hardiest reader.

Pub Date: Feb. 8th, 1979
Publisher: Doubleday