American Murder Houses by Steve Lehto

American Murder Houses

Steve Lehto

In the tradition of Peter Vronsky's Serial Killer books, comes a collection of the horrifying true stories behind the most infamous murder houses in America.

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There are places in the United States of America where violent acts of bloodshed have occurred. Years may pass—even centuries—but the mark of death remains. They are known as Murder Houses.

From a colonial manse in New England to a small-town home in Iowa to a Beverly Hills mansion, these residences have taken on a life of their own, gaining everything from local lore and gossip to national—and even global—infamy.

Writer Steve Lehto recounts the stories behind the houses where Lizzie Borden supposedly gave her stepmother “forty whacks,” where the real Amityville Horror was first unleashed by gunfire, and where the demented acts of the Manson Family horrified a nation—as well some lesser-known sites of murder that were no less ghastly.

Exploring the past and present of more than twenty-five renowned homicide scenes, American Murder Houses is a tour through the real estate of some of the most grisly and fascinating crimes in American history.


Advance Galley Reviews

I was so excited to read this book, but was unable to due to technical issues. I am very sad I missed this one.

Interesting perspective and a quick read, though overall there were some odd bits to it. Lehto did a decent job of summarizing the crimes and their aftermath, but sometimes his writing just I couldn't quite put my finger on what bothered me much of the time--odd phrasing, I guess? He also frequently seemed to be trying to put himself above "all those people" who found his topic fascinating...which was more than a little annoying. If he didn't have an interest, then why did he write it? For purely financial reasons? I did learn of some new murders that I hadn't heard of before, and found out some interesting new details about some that I had. I'm not sure how I feel about the fact that he gives the addresses of all the homes (even those that changed their addresses to avoid "murder house fans"), though. Sure, people could probably find them out easily enough, but I'd be more comfortable making them work for it. Rating: 3 1/2 stars / B-

Being a huge true crime fan, this book kept me interested from cover to cover. I really enjoyed reading about the older, less publicized crime scenes. I had already known about quite a few of the crimes that were covered in the book, but fortunately, there were a few gems that were new even to me. This is a problem with some true crime books, because they only seem to regurgitate what we already know and have already heard. This book not only gives us a take on some more obscure events, but it offers a new way to look at the true crime genre. I would highly recommend this to anyone that enjoys reading and learning about true crime.

I love true crime books and this was right up there with some of the best I have read! Made for a fun evening read.

The book is well-written and offers a good overview of the most famous murder homes in the U.S. Each story is a quick read, provides essential details of the crimes, and addresses rumours and inconsistencies about the events. It is a good 'reference' but one that unfortunately many readers of the genre will already have in their collection. There is nothing new here; you may be familiar with most of the stories from other books or from the Internet. I really wanted to love this book, but i had to force myself to keep reading...

The book is indeed written like a guidebook, providing fun facts and a general sketch of each house. Various factoids are contemporary. On such an interesting and haunting topic, it would have been more compelling to include images of each home at least. The afterword also touches on some thoughtful questions that were implicit in the body of the book, but maybe it would have been interesting to weave that more explicitly to begin - or a potential sequel, if nothing else!

I really enjoyed this book.

Interesting read if you are into this sort of thing. Some I had heard about, some I hadn't. But it certainly gave me enough info to check out some of the more interesting ones further.

This was an interesting read. There was some stories that I never heard off and some that I did. It was very well written.

I received this book as part of the Penguin First to Read program. This is one of those guilty pleasure reads. Why am I fascinated with true crime? I think it has to do with my interest in human nature and what it takes to be a killer or a victim. Anyway, this book was a look at houses around the United States that have been involved in high profile murders. Most of the stories were ones I have already read about it. Amityville, the Klutter murders, Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman, Versace, Manson, etc. but there were also some new ones with some interesting history to them. A Hex murder in Pennsylvania Dutch country, a slave torturer in New Orleans, and an axe murderer in Iowa, were all new to me. This book is a quick read and like the National Enquirer maybe you don't want anyone to see you read it, but it's a great bathroom read!

From my Goodreads reviews & Updates (User: : M. Lynn) Recommended for: Anyone interested in the non-fiction creepy historical happenings :) This is an awesome, albeit disturbing book, however still fascinating. Here my updates as I read and below that a bit of thoughts for others with hopes in helping them to decided to read this. For now, 5 stars's hands down. Creepy, but fascinating. Not too much, but just enough. Some I knew about, others completely *new to me* stories Thank you Penguin Publishing and Berkley Publishing Group for the chance to read this ARC!! It feels creepy to say I loved it due to its content, however I requested it, I Loved it and I thank you greatly. For now, 5 stars's hands down. Creepy, but fascinating. Not too much, but just enough. Some I knew about, others completely *new to me* stories Thank you Penguin Publishing and Berkley Publishing Group for the chance to read this ARC!! It feels creepy to say I loved it due to its content, however I requested it, I Loved it and I thank you greatly. First began reading update: Wow!! This is going to be one hell of a read. In an awesome and creepy yet very sad way. Just finished the forward and already have goosebumps. Very detailed and informative info the authors given in the forward and as he mentions throughout the book as well." 01/05 "Oh Geez! The Lizzie Borden House" is next. I'm not psycho I swear but this is awesome in a bad but good scary, creepy kinda way. I love non-fiction as much as I love fiction & I LOVE creepiness in reads. There's definitely that in this! This ones gonna be gooood. But, really I'm ashamed of myself for enjoying this, lol, not really. When the Amityville house comes, I'm running" 01/06 "The Conrad Aiken House is up next!! Love this book. Not to sound creepy or anything, just a history of all things fascination." 01/08 "This book is intriguing, frightening & interesting in seeing the stories dating back to the 1800's & early/mid 1900's. It's gruesome, however informative. It's also making me think deeper as I read because I have always loved "detective work/thinking", problem solving, finding answers & looking deeply into the tiniest detail. Sad these horrible things happened & incredible to be reading about them today." 01/08 "The more I read about these crimes I can't even express what I'm feeling. A lot of things, but for now, even though This book is as interesting, learning these facts, as it is horrific, I know I'm already in the thought that I need to read something more positive or even fictional crime. Great book, definitely need a brain cleaner after this!!" Overall, I Loved it and I feel so wrong for saying that, but it's a fascinating look into history. Not too much and just enough to get those chills running up my spine. Each story begins with a title/name for the house, the infamous name of the murder event and dates in which they occurred. Followed by a few pages of description of the murders and what's happened with those houses since. Who knew axes were so popular then!? Craziness, but good. Would recommend to all whom are interested in non-fiction with a lot of true crime horror. Short Stories of graphic words regarding events, bit it's mostly about the houses, what happened in them then and what they are now. I do find it disturbing about the ones that were turned into tourist places for a hefty price to sleep a night with all the things set up as they were during the murders. I'd be a ghost Hunter in a heartbeat, however, making it a tourist destination for fun? I'd like to think he lives lost were remembered and respected more than that. Great book!!

I was surprised to find out the author was a lawyer; at times it felt like it was written for a juvenile audience. It was a very interesting book - some of the crimes were familiar to me but others weren't. I thought it was sensitively written. I'd read more by this author.

This was an interesting take on a true crime book. Most true crime books focus on the crime and the criminal, but this book focuses on the house and location the crimes took place. I enjoyed that there were several crimes that I wasn’t familiar with. It made me want to look more into them. There were also plenty of crimes that I had read about previously, and I enjoyed revisiting them. Very interesting read.

I enjoyed reading the stories in American Murder Houses. Some of those mentioned in this book I was already familiar with and was ready to read even more about them. The author provided some interesting facts that I wasn't aware of. Each story not only provided summaries of the crime but also gave some detail of the homes they occurred in, somewhat of a visual, as well as a follow up of what happened with the homes. I think that if someone enjoys reading about murders and where they happened, this book is easy to read and follow, it doesn't give all the details, but good summaries. There were times that I felt as though the author repeated himself on numerous occasions, that made it a little difficult to read for me, but still enjoyed overall.

I am always a glutton for "based on a true story" books and shows, so when American Murder Houses was offered as an ARC, I decided to give it a try. I enjoyed reading this book by Steve Lehto. Each chapter is a brief overview of a house that a murder has taken place in. The chapters are short, simple, and easy to get through. It is a fun and light read (excluding the topic, of course) that will amuse fans of murder mysteries.

American Murder Houses sounds compelling at first - promising current and past history of the house. What I find is although the author provides the information advertised each 'story' comes across quite dry, factual with nothing to really keep me engaged in the story. I do appreciate that the Mr. Lehto did not sensationalize the actual murder more than necessary. His writing style is very straight forward, factual type voice. After reading about 3 or 4 of the houses I got the flavor of what to expect which unfortunately did not really compel me to want to read it, visit any of the houses or know more. I did slog thru the book but it became more of a chore and not as enjoyable as I would have liked. Sorry to say this was not a hit with me.

This book is full of the most well-known (and relatively more obscure) murders in American history. Most of them aren't from serial killers, though---instead, as the title implies, these are houses that had crimes occur there. Probably the most well-known is the Lizzie Borden house, although they also discuss the house in Amityville. (You probably know that there was a reported haunting there, but before the Lutzes moved in, Ronald DeFeo murdered his parents and siblings.) Each chapter focuses on a specific house and relays details about the crime (and the house), as well as suggestions for where to learn more about what happened there. The chapters are generally more of a brief sketch than anything else, but because there are so many houses, if they went into incredible detail, the book would be far too long.

This account of the places where some of the most famous murders took place does not disappoint. Although the murders are described, in necessary detail, the subject is the places where they occurred. The author describes the homes as well as the murders, and gives an update of the history of the place. Readers who like to explore the details of true crime and mystery will likely enjoy this book.

The stories in this book revolve around the houses that the crimes were located, discussing the crimes only as much as necessary. This is not a book of true crimes, but a book about the houses where the crimes took place.The author provided information on the various houses in a straight forward manner. He did not sensationalize the crimes or the criminals. I enjoyed reading about how the homes have continued, or not, into current times. Probably my favorite story was about the Frank Lloyd Wright house in Wisconsin. Overall, this book is intriguing. While I understand that property records are public record and available to anyone that can look it up. It seems odd to provide the actual addresses to the houses that are still being lived in and not museums or vacant.

I enjoyed reading this book and the current update as to what the houses are used for now. I think if a current picture of the properties was included in each chapter it would have been an added bonus. Some of the chapters were more interesting than others. It seemed like there was a wealth of information on some of the murders and others were very minimal details.

Book was interesting, but not griping. The writing was very "to the point" and direct, often sounding "choppy. " The facts about the houses are very interesting. Pictures with each chapter in relation to the house or the family would have been a nice addition.

I really enjoyed this book. I'd never read a "true crime" sort of book that not only told the story of the crime, but made an attempt to add in true details of the crime and describe the house as it sits today. My only complaints would have been that I'd like to see more pictures, and that the last few chapters seemed out of chronological order. Otherwise a great read!

Interesting. I was familiar with some of the places but the information on them went the additional step. Wasn't a hot page turner but held my interest. I enjoy reading about murders and the extra insights into the homes just added to the to the thrill. I would recommend this to people who like this subject matter.

Tantalized by the thought of a coast-to-coast trip across America, learning about murder houses and their histories, I excitedly opened the galley of American Murder Houses, written by Steve Lehto, that I received free through the First to Read program. While the book does identify and provide addresses for nearly 30 murder houses, there is no additional benefit to reading this book. Ordered chronologically rather than cross-country as advertised, each chapter is a chore to get through, as the entire book reads like a collection of poorly written research assignments from an eighth grade class. At times, the author appears to be paid by the word, appending disjointed, irrelevant facts and suppositions and ending with unworkable non sequiturs. Lacking physical descriptions of the homes, floor plans, and improvements or changes to each home since its murder, the book misses its mark. Offered as a chance to “explore the past and present of each of the homicide scenes,” it doesn’t come close to offering a tour through the real estate of these homes with grizzly histories. By his own admission in the Acknowledgements, this author has “no idea what fascinates people about murders or murder houses or what draws them to go look at them” and unfortunately, it shows.

An interesting book if you are curious about this sort of thing. It is an easy read, the writing is simple, although not anything spectacular. Some of the sentences are a bit awkward. I did enjoy that he separated fact from fiction, and does a great job at explaining where the houses are (or aren't) today. Definitely might be a good read if you are into this kind of thing but it is just a brief overview and doesn't go into too much detail, so if you're looking for a lot of detail it may not be your kind of thing.

Ok I tr to keep open mind there were a few new nuggets of info I learned but not enough to warrant me recommended this book to someone or even buying it for myself because these are rehash3d murder/ I did however like how he went on to explain fact from fiction. I'm sure we are curious about where murders happen but these cases that are in this book are so sensationalized that we already probably know they who the what and where. Just ho hum for me.

Typically, I read fiction as opposed to non-fiction but I thought reading a book about Murder Houses might be interesting since I enjoy Murder mysteries. I wasn't sure what to expect. I opened the book and read a chapter or two then I put the book down. I picked the book up again and the next thing I know I was half way through the book. Basically this book list various house in the US in which some famous murders have taken place. The chapters are short and provide limited details of the murders at each location. In essence this book could be summed up as a short guide to famous murder houses. If this is a subject of interest to you, you just might want to pick up this book as a place to start.

I thought this was a very boring book on a very interesting subject. It was just a spew of facts with no rhythm to it. If this book had been written differently it would have been great, however it was written more like a guidebook than anything else.

I wanted to love this book because I find the subject matter fascinating, but I just couldn't love it. I found the book to be poorly written, lacking in flow, and riddled with grammatical errors. Perhaps once it is edited and finalized these issues will be taken care of; however I felt these issues detracted from the flow of reading, especially missing transition sentences from one paragraph to the next. I also felt the book lacked in-depth research. Instead the author pulled information from Internet websites and news outlets. In one instance, the author quotes information from Lizzie Borden’s trial, but does not provide a source for this direct quote. I wonder if this author conducted any research beyond what he found on the Web. If he did, then footnotes and a reference list are needed, even if he paraphrased his work. The last issue I had with this novel was the lack of information on the actual houses beyond what anyone could find on or other real estate listings. Some of the information about the houses felt like an afterthought and was a brief paragraph at the end of the essay. A lot of the murders he writes about did not even occur in the homes of the victims or the killers, so I was not sure how those murders fit within the context of the book (Murder houses). In the forward, the author also discusses debunking myths and legends, but only includes The Gardette-LaPrete House legend. Overall, I felt the writing was a bit juvenile and lacked cohesion. Perhaps with a bit of editing, rewriting, and research inclusion the book will become a better literary work. The specific murders chosen were fascinating, but some felt glossed over and for others, I wondered why they were included. For example, the Manson murders focused so much on the trial and what Manson’s followers did to disrupt the trials I wondered why this was actually included in this book.


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