Sunday, January 04, 2004

The Corpse in the Cellar: And Further Tales of Cleveland Woe

The Corpse in the Cellar: And Further Tales of Cleveland Woe This is a review of a book on Cleveland, Ohio history by John Stark Bellamy. It is reviewed by Julie Lorenzen.

From the review:

Author John Stark Bellamy II has found his niche: murder and disaster in the Cleveland area. The Corpse in the Cellar completes his trilogy on the subject. His other two books are They Died Crawling and The Maniac in the Bushes. Bellamy's most recent work is a compilation of 25 true stories of mayhem. The stories are antiquated-ranging from a 1865 stalking-style murder to a 1942 circus fire that killed more than 50 animals.

Bellamy has avoided more recent stories for two reasons-summed up by one quote. "… they are too recent, in my opinion, to have acquired a vintage character in terms of the period detail their telling may display; moreover, [more recent stories] are still fresh enough to feature living victims: the sons, daughters, parents and other loved ones who have endured and survived the crimes and disasters of the last 30 years."(Preface)

However, the age of the stories does not make them less interesting. Though morbid, each story has the potential to intrigue readers. For example, there's the story about the teenager who killed a neighbor girl in 1889. He hid her body in the cellar of his mother's house, but was given away by the ensuing odor. And then there was the Ashtabula bridge disaster in which more than 80 train passengers died when a poorly designed bridge collapsed in December 1876.

The first two or three paragraphs of every story are well written enough to draw a reader in. However, each of the stories (most run ten or more pages) are too long to maintain one's interest. In light of the subject matter, shorter stories would have sufficed.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your blog is great!

Your blog is terrific!

Here is a nostalgic photo from the Archives of the Sandusky Library, if you care
to take a look: