Bee-Line Books, a low-rung publisher of mostly nonfiction smut pulps, released courtroom journalist John Dean’s studious account of the Sylvia Lykens/Gertrude Baniszewski criminal case in 1966, well before “true crime” came to be an established mass-market paperback genre. I believe this is the first book-length study of the case, which remains resonantly disturbing in its details and implications. The events surrounding Lykens’ “Ordeal and Death!” would later be the focus of Kate Millet’s 1979 narrative nonfiction study, The Basement: Meditations on a Human Sacrifice, and the case also would provide the core inspiration for Jack Ketchum’s best novel, The Girl Next Door. This copy is in shockingly good condition for a nearly 60-year-old pocket paperback, and I’m inclined to think it may never have been read (I read the Borf Books facsimile reprint that was released in the late ’90s). It is priced accordingly. Additional photos will be provided to prospective buyers upon request.
- Attributes: Presumed first printing of 1966 Bee-Line Books pocket paperback edition; Rare
- Condition: Very good, maybe near-fine. Clean cover, tight spine, no markings. Other than some mild paper discoloration due to age, it appears never to have been read.
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