This month, instead of reading one book, I checked out an Amazon Original Series – “The Bloodlands Collection.” It is composed of six separate short stories, optimized for the Amazon Kindle with both high quality graphics and an audiobook version. It was free with my Amazon Prime account!
Book Titles: The Pirate, Little Slaughterhouse on the Prairie, The Brick Slayer, Panic, The Pied Piper and Rampage.
Author: Harold Schechter
About the Author: A well established American true-crime writer, Harold Schechter has written a great number of books. In addition to true-crime, he has written mysteries and pop culture novels. He is clearly the master of RESEARCHING.
About These Books: Instead of covering the individual characters of each book and giving away the entire plot, I want to talk about the main theme of this collection. Each one of these stories is about a serial killer. American mass murderers, specifically. In recent years in America, we have had the misfortune to see the number of mass shootings increase at an exponential level. However, I think it’s interesting that you don’t learn very much about serial killers in history class. All of these stories in the Bloodlands Collection really happened, but I’d definitely never heard of any of them until I read these books. Yet, this country has been suffering serial killers from back when there were pirates roaming the seas. A family of murderers once terrorized log cabin dwellers on the prairie. Two very different stories of serial killers came out of the Great Depression in the 1930’s: one particularly heartless psychopath targeted, raped and murdered innocent children causing widespread parental panic; while the other story recounted how racist policemen unlawfully arrested and mistreated hundreds of black men in their search for the actual culprit, who had been simply described as “a black man in his early 20’s.” Moving forward in history, there was a man who came back from WWII as a respected veteran… until he snapped and killed 13 people one morning with his war trophy gun. The most recent story was of a bizarre pre-Manson, wannabe-James-Dean-esque ‘bad boy’ with a cult following who helped him murder and attempt to cover up the deaths of his three young female victims.
Lessons Learned: When I first started reading this collection, I thought it was historical fiction with doctored photos. Then I did my own research and was shocked to learn that all of these stories were true and the photos were very real. Some of these stories are so insane that it’s hard to believe they happened, but that’s always the case when it comes to horrific events such as these. I also learned that the true-crime genre is pretty riveting to read… if you can stomach it.
Personal Opinions: Why don’t we learn about this sort of thing in school? Maybe the subject matter was deemed too upsetting for children? But these days, kids in school are doing lock-down drills and mass shooting drills… maybe it’s time to realize that history repeats itself in many ways. Maybe learning about horrible things is the only way to be cognizant enough to prevent them from happening again?
On a lighter note, I will add that reading an eBook that was specifically optimized for the Kindle was a really cool experience. When I first opened a new book from the collection, the front cover would animate. Then when I flipped to the first page, all of the images from the story were presented in a quick montage. I thought that was a really cool way to set the stage for the story, and I was pretty impressed. I think I will keep an eye out for more Amazon Original Series books in the future, in hopes to see more cool features like that!