All That Is Wicked by Kate Winkler Dawson – Blog Tour Review

Title: All That Is Wicked

Author: Kate Winkler Dawson

Genre: Nonfiction/True Crime

Publisher: Icon Books

Publication Date: 6th October 2022

Rating: 4/5



The thrilling story of Edward Rulloff – a serial murderer who was called ‘too intelligent to be killed’ – and the array of 19th-century investigators who were convinced his brain held the key to finally understanding the criminal mind.

Rulloff was a brilliant yet utterly amoral murderer – some have called him a ‘Victorian-era Hannibal Lecter’ – whose crimes spanned decades, but by 1871 he was captured, chained in a cell – a psychopath holding court while curious 19th-century ‘mindhunters’ got to work.
From alienists (early psychiatrists who tried to analyse the source of his madness) to neurologists (who wanted to dissect his brain) to phrenologists (who analysed the bumps on his head to determine his character), each one thought he held the key to understanding the essential question: is evil born or made?

Expanding on her hit podcast, Tenfold More Wicked, acclaimed crime historian Kate Winkler Dawson draws on hundreds of source materials and never-before-shared historical documents to present one of the first glimpses into the mind of a serial killer – a century before the term was coined – through the scientists whose work would come to influence criminal justice for decades to come.


I’m a big fan of true crime so the fact that I’d never heard of the subject of All That Is Wicked, Edward Rulloff, both surprised and intrigued me. What followed is a truly fascinating dive into the psychology of a serial killer, long before the term itself emerged. The book is divided into chapters focusing on each of the disciplines of the men who tried to unravel the forensic psychology at work in the minds of ‘monsters’, including alienists, phrenologists, neurologists and journalists. This structure worked extremely effectively, giving an insight into the very beginnings of the work that the Behavioural Science Unit or ‘Mindhunters’ embarked on in the 1970’s. Kate Winkler Dawson has clearly put a great deal of work into meticulously researching this case which holds at its core a question that we still don’t completely know the answer to today – whether people who commit these horrific crimes are born evil or whether they have been moulded into what they are by their experiences. All That Is Wicked is a comprehensive, compelling and deeply interesting read which I highly recommend to fans of true crime and indeed psychology in general.


Thank you so much to Anne Cater of Random Things Blog Tours for inviting me on this tour and organising it. I kindly received a copy of the book from the publisher. My review is entirely my own honest opinion.

Buy the book:

Waterstones | Blackwell’s | Amazon

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