Published in 1968, Wisconsin Murders: An Enquiry into Mayhem and Homicide in the Midwest by August Derleth recounts 16 Wisconsin murders, most of which took place in the 1800s. The victims (and murderers) range considerably, from kidnapped children to spurned former lovers to seeming strangers. A surprisingly high number involve poison. The author clearly did his research and frequently quotes from newspapers of the day. Each chapter begins with the murder, names the suspect who eventually went to trial, and concludes with the result of the trial. Sentencing varied considerably, as did claims of guilt, innocence, or insanity.
I personally found the author the best part of the book. The maxim ‘guilty until proven innocent’ clearly did not appeal much to him. ‘Guilty and anyone who says different doesn’t know what they are talking about including the misguided jury’ might be a better term. He frequently spurns psychologists and the insanity plea, mocks “modern” criminal justice reform, and bewails the lack of a death penalty in Wisconsin. You really have to appreciate his out and out gumption while reading. (That or you won’t make it far.)
While a strong variety, this is a very random collection of murders and I really wonder what the criteria for inclusion were.