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A Great American Hero.
America's First Serial Killer.
And the Crime Has Never Been Solved–Until Now.
Bestselling author William Bernhardt's tale of historical suspense, based upon true events, chronicles the terrifying duel between America's first serial killer and legendary lawman Eliot Ness.
In the 1930s, Eliot Ness, the treasury agent who helped convict Al Capone, famed leader of the Untouchables, accepts a high-ranking position in Cleveland. The headline-grabbing, squeaky-clean Fed is the perfect man to become the city's Safety Director–but by the time he has started his new job, a killer has started a chilling career of his own. The discovery of a dismembered torso soon plunges the city into a state of terror. One by one, bodies are found, each one decapitated and dissected with a doctor's skill and a madman's bent. The police are baffled, the population is terrorized, and newspaper headlines are ablaze about the so-called "Torso Murderer." As the body count rises, Ness pours more energy and manpower into his investigation, desperately trying to live up to his larger-than-life reputation, working with a street-smart detective and making enemies every step of the way. His obsession slowly erodes his personal and professional life, even his untouchable reputation. Because in Cleveland, there is only one true untouchable: a killer who has the perfect hiding place and the perfect plan for destroying Eliot Ness.
From the first use of forensic psychology to a portrait of America battling the Great Depression and a man battling his own demons, Nemesis is a masterwork of mystery, murder, and vivid, dynamic historical suspense culminating in a shocking revelation. The case remains officially unsolved, but Bernhardt's account presents a startling solution based upon recently uncovered evidence.
I've always been fascinated by unsolved mysteries, cases that have captured the public imagination but have never been closed. Perhaps this is why I have spent so much of my career writing crime fiction. In a novel, the reader knows that, regardless of how complex or convoluted the case, by the end of the book the mystery will be resolved. In real life, cases are rarely concluded in such a satisfactory fashion. Indeed, the absence of a solution may be the reason so many legendary crimes linger in the public memory. This also could be why I have spent so much time reading about and investigating cases such as Lizzie Borden, Jack the Ripper, the Zodiac killer. And my all-time favorite: the Mad Butcher of Cleveland.
Part of what makes this case unique is that it presents not only a spellbinding crime and a fascinating psychologically driven killer but also a genuine American hero: Eliot Ness. Already famous for his work as the leader of the Untouchables in Chicago, Ness was Cleveland's Safety Director at the time the murders occurred. Thus, this is not simply a story about an unsolved string of murders but a white-knuckle confrontation between the top lawman of the era and America's first true serial killer.
In the 1930s, the Torso Murderer was top headline news, not just in Cleveland but all around the world. Walter Winchell commented upon it during his radio broadcasts. Even Hitler talked about it (he called the murders a sign of the decadence of the American way of life). The case was featured not only in newspapers but in the pulp magazines so popular at the time, such as Official Detective Stories. Some of them even offered rewards for a solution. But no solution was ever found.
Until now. Just when most people thought this mystery would never be unraveled, new evidence arose from the most unexpected sources. The new evidence led to this book–which contains not only a page-turning story but also the true identity of the "Torso Murderer."
"One of America's legendary heroes comes to vivid life in William Bernhardt's impressive Nemesis: The Final Case of Eliot Ness. A terrific story of madness and obsession, the plot is compelling, the writing crisp and the dialogue evocative. Add to that the disclosure of the real-life identity of America's first serial killer and you've got yourself a winner and then some."
– John Lescroart, New York Times bestselling author of Betrayal
"The Untouchables. The Unknowns. The Unspeakable. Evil has many levels. In William Bernhardt's chilling Nemesis, a real-life American hero descends to the bottom of it, confronting the most dangerous adversary of his career."
– David Morrell, New York Times bestselling author of Creepers
"Painted on a broad canvas, William Bernhardt's writing is expertly controlled, rich in imagery, blessed with characterization. Great authenticity, utter realism, and some fascinating legal skullduggery weave a supple, elegant thriller. Bernhardt is a born stylist. His writing through the years has aged like a fine wine–sharper, deeper, and better than ever."
– Steve Berry, New York Times bestselling author of The Charlemagne Pursuit
Starred Review! "This is a thrilling novel that is both a fast-paced action-adventure and a character study, a portrait of a resourceful and determined lawman whose political na�vet� and straight-arrow demeanor put off many of his colleagues. Fans of The Untouchables will get that same period feel from the book as the film version, and it will be a surprise if some clever Hollywood producer doesn't snap up Bernhardt's novel and put Ness on screen yet again. A rousing success, highly recommended..."
Five-Star Review! "This biographical fiction of an American icon is well-written as Ness is made into a caring human who bleeds. William Bernhardt enables the reader to get past the TV series and movie to the real Ness."
– Harriet Klausner, Barnes & Noble.com
Category: Fiction, Fiction - Suspense
Format: Hardcover, 368 pages
On Sale: January 13, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-345-48758-2 (0-345-48758-3)
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