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Reviewed by Tracy Young for Readers' Favorite
Anton Probst was a German immigrant who traveled to America to find a better life. Along with many others, he began his new life as a soldier and spent three years fighting in the Civil War. Once the conflict was over, he was embroiled in the underbelly of this relatively new country and became one more statistic fighting to survive. The Dearing family gave him a taste of normality and offered him gainful employment and a place to call home. How did Anton Probst repay them? In the most heinous way possible. Fifty years earlier, Mary Shelley had created a fictional monster that is still an iconic figure in literature, but how does Frankenstein’s monster bear any resemblance to Probst? Patricia Earnest Suter tells us how in The Face of a Monster: America's Frankenstein.
This is a superbly researched book that not only explores the history of Probst and the circumstances that lead him to commit such a violent crime, but also the background of Mary Shelley and her fictional monster. Loss and death played a major part in Mary’s life and Patricia Earnest Suter explains how that led to the monster's character. Probst is a monster that shocked Philadelphia, yet it is his name that is remembered rather than the victims' names. Does that mean society is more interested in the horrors of the human mind? There is a wealth of information in this book and the author writes with passion. The Face of a Monster: America's Frankenstein is a fascinating read and incredibly informative.