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La Manufacture du meurtre

Alexandra Midal

We usually associate design to a positive way of thinking, to what is beautiful, useful, and comfortable. But the word also refers to efficiency and we know how this virtue fed frightening sectarianism in totalitarian regimes. Design has a hidden face, as this work reminds us, and studies an original case: the one of the first serial killers identified in the USA, Henry Howard Holmes (1861-1896). In the city of Chicago, where rationalization was already seen in the slaughter houses – which nourished the imagination of Hergé in Tintin- this man applied it to his own home. He had a true manor built for himself, with some one hundred rooms, setting them up with the latest techniques (electricity, sound proof techniques, remote control management, isolation of acid storage tanks and quicklime, perfected fire protection of the room that includes the crematorium, with hidden traps and staircases), to be able to commit his crimes under the best conditions. The ideal of productivity here is used to murder the typists and secretaries the man seduces (something like Landru). We have to admit his imagination is diabolic: to eliminate all traces of a crime, he cut up his victims and sold their skeletons to the schools of anatomy.

La Manufacture du meurtre, by Alexandra Midal, Zones, La Découverte, 2018, 112 p., €12.

La Manufacture du meurtre - Alexandra Midal

Review published in the newsletter #529 - from 18 October 2018 to 25 October 2018

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