The Brick Slayer by Harold Schechter, Narrated by Steven Weber

The Brick Slayer provides us with an in-depth study of a series of home invasions and killings that transpired in Los Angeles and Chicago in the late 1930s. The title comes from the killer, Robert Nixon, using bricks to incapacitate the victims.
As interesting as the crime details might be, the vastly more interesting component of this particular narrative is the focus on the trial and the socioeconomic elements that contributed to the conditions of Robert Nixon’s life. It’s fascinating to think that Richard Wright’s Native Son was largely inspired by the circumstances surrounding Robert Nixon’s admittedly reprehensible acts and the reaction of those in law enforcement and the media to such horrific crimes committed by a young African American man. The barely suppressed racism of 1930s America seemed to be on full display throughout the investigation and subsequent trial, but it’s the more subtle and insidious racism of American culture that may very well have set Nixon down the path he ultimately found himself traveling.
Schechter’s insightful case studies are always profoundly interesting, but this one perhaps more so than many others, simply because of the tangential aspects of the society and culture at large during the years when these things took place.
Steven Weber’s narration is superb and well-suited to the Style of Schechter’s writing.

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