Monday, 23 March 2015

A Treasury of Victorian Murder: The Saga of The Bloody Benders Review (Rick Geary)

The “bloody” Benders were a small German immigrant family who settled in late 19th century Kansas, opened a grocery store/inn and began murdering rich lodgers and stashing the bodies across the prairie and in a ditch beneath the house. 

The ringleader appeared to be the young woman, Kate, who believed she could speak to spirits and who would find out about the visitors who showed up at their inn. If they had money she would position them in the seat where their backs would be to a screen where one of the other three family members would bludgeon the visitor, rob him, then take him down to the ditch/basement and cut his throat. 

They murdered over a dozen innocent people and then fled when they realised they had been rumbled. They were never caught and people around the country thought they saw various family members at one time or another in the following years. It wasn't even determined if they really were related to one another or not. 

Geary draws and tells the story brilliantly. The pictures of a late 19th century Kansas conjures up a wistful portrait of frontier life with all it's romance and harshness. The Bender's Inn is drawn in detail and shows how cramped conditions were in those days where you bought the land but had to build the house yourself. The artwork reminded me of Crumb but was different enough to say Geary has his own style. The story clips along at a quick pace and is easily read in a single enjoyable sitting. 

Overall, an interesting little history lesson about an obscure but fascinating case brought vividly back to life with Geary's illustrations and brisk storytelling.

A Treasury of Victorian Murder: The Saga of The Bloody Benders

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