Edmund Pearson’s “The Embarrassments of Mr. Udderzook”


Pulp Nonfiction

A reading from the pioneers of True Crime

Edmund Pearson was an early pioneer in true crime writing. A librarian by trade, he came to prominence as an author through his essay on the Lizzie Borden case included in his 1924 book, Studies in Murder.

In 1928, Pearson wrote a series of weekly columns for The St. Louis Post Dispatch. This podcast is a reading of the first article in that series, a wry, often sarcastic look at a case of two murders wrapped around an insurance fraud and stuffed with arson that came to light in February, 1872.

tdtcover07As a companion to the story of Udderzook, I can recommend “Man Beheaded; Dentist Sought: The True Crime of Richard M. Brumfield,” as it has some strange parallels. In 1921, the Roseburg, Oregon, dentist Dr. Richard M Brumfield tried to fake his own death by putting the dead body of the local hermit, Dennis Russell, in the flaming wreckage of Doc’s roadster–after he removed the man’s teeth and set off a stick of dynamite in his mouth. It was a thin ruse, and when the dentist was nowhere to be seen, a thorough manhunt of the Oregon Mountains and the Pacific Coast ensued. After a month of mistaken identities and false leads, the trail suddenly turned north to Canada, where it only took the Royal Northwest Mounted Police a few days to get their man. Or did they?

Musical direction and theme music by Chuck Wiggins.

Clips:

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 16, 1928
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 16, 1928

St__Louis_Post_Dispatch_Sun__Sep_16__1928_second

Reading Times, November 12, 1874
Reading Times, November 12, 1874