Sensational! Lurid! Shocking!

Torso coverTorso : The Evelyn Dick Case

Submitter: I am submitting this book, not because it was weeded, but because it was actually sent in this week for cataloguing from a high school library. It looks as though it was donated, then discarded, and then made its way back to the library. Pages are
old and water-stained in place. (Unfortunately, it doesn’t show up in photographs.) [Inserted below is] one of the “shocking photos” promised on the cover, which are now so faded I doubt if anyone will be shocked by them. Plus the emphasis of the
murderer’s multiple sexual partners makes her extra guilty, right? Sensation, lurid murder trials: just what every high school needs! Currently trying to find a kind way of telling them we aren’t going to catalogue it.

Holly: I really studied that picture of the torso (below) and I would not have known that’s what it was without the caption. This was a great choice for a public library in the 1970s and 80s, but I can’t imagine that most high schools go for books described as “sensational” and “lurid.” The worst part of all this, though, is that someone really thought it was worth cataloging! Really? WHY???

Torso back cover

Torso sticker



  1. Gaudy Sex? Unless gaudy has a definition I don’t know about, this is not the word they were looking for.

    Hmm…It does, but I don’t think “gay; merry; festive” was what they were going for either.

  2. This book was in my high school library, but then again, I live in the city where the murder took place. This story is legend here and even became a play “How Could You, Mrs. Dick?”. The book “Torso” is pretty infamous here, despite its age. The story itself is actually fascinating, albeit gruesome.

    1. Yea that could’ve been put to better use on another book. Also, a Packard? How long ago was this?

  3. Seriously….. Hmmm, now I’m going to have to see if this book is in circ at our library or if I can interloan it. I’ve got to see the story…

    1. It’s an interesting story, in addition to the death of her husband (and his torso was found by local kids), police found a baby encased in cement in a suitcase in her attic. As mentioned above, Evelyn Dick was notorious for her multiple sexual partners (and looks), and after she was released from prison there was speculation for years as to her whereabouts and what name she was using. There were often sightings, but I don’t think any were ever proven to be her. I find it amusing to find this book here since it’s so popular around here, despite its age. Her story is legend and no one would be surprised to find the book in one of our libraries.

  4. I live in Niagara Falls, Canada, and the Dick case occurred in Hamilton. This is the LAST book in the world I would have ever expected to find listed on this website!

  5. If your library is looking for current “lurid, sensational and suspenseful” Canadian crime content, you would certainly find it with Paul Bernardo/ Karla Homolka.

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