• CMTU History

Episode #14: Landru's Secret

Today, we are headed to France to talk about one of that country's most notorious serial killers, Henri Landru. 

My guest today is Richard Tomlinson. Richard first came across the Landru case in the early 1980s when he was researching a Ph.D. in modern French history in Paris. He was trawling through old newspapers in France’s national library and got hooked on the saturation press coverage of Landru’s sensational trial at Versailles in 1921. He was sure the prosecution's case was wrong and over the next decades maintained his interest in Landru during a career as a writer and journalist in Asia and Europe. 

Richard joins me from London via Skype to discuss his book Landru's Secret: The Deadly Seductions of France's Lonely Hearts Serial Killer. Richard returned to the subject of Landru in 2016 after an exhibition in Paris revealed previously hidden documents in the Paris Police Archives which suggested that his theory about the case was correct. Landru's Secret is the end of his long quest to discover what happened to the 10 women who disappeared near Paris during the First World War and to explore the possibility that Landru actually killed many more victims.

Key Points in Today's Podcast

Some of the major topics I discuss with Richard in this episode are:

  • Henri Landru's background of petty crime

  • The systematic manner in which Landru contacted women for sex and as possible marks for swindling

  • How Landru played on the prevailing sexist attitudes of the period to conduct his crimes

  • The sensationalism in Landru's trial which turned a court room into a circus

  • Tomlinson's persuasive case that the prosecution of Landru was botched and far too limited in its scope

For the Ever Curious

If you are interested in learning more about this topic, consider checking out these resources:

Books by Richard Tomlinson

© 2018 by Can't Make This Up History Podcast.

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