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Publisher's Summary

In 1873, the largest serial-killing spree in American history happened along the Osage Trail in Kansas. The family would later be identified as the Bloody Benders. Unlike most criminals of their time, they escaped and were never caught. This true history is now captured in a gripping fictional tale that takes the horror of murder on the plains to a dark new level.

©2016 Paul Ibbetson (P)2016 Paul Ibbetson

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Donna
  • 04-12-2016

Pretty darn good

How could I resist a telling of the Legend of the Benders? It starts so well then the fictional part of the book pops up and ruins the plot ( for me ) BUT it is fascinating to listen to on a dreary winter day - an introduction to an early serial killer "family" that escaped - where after leaving Kansas - no one to this day has discovered where they went. Not gory or creepy, really just interesting.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • AudioBook Reviewer
  • 25-07-2018

Texas Chainsaw Massacre without the cannibalism

With a name like Last Meal, I’m sure you may expect this to get gory. I know I did. I went into this thinking Texas Chainsaw Massacre and got that minus the cannibalism. It’s still a crazy story, and one that would never happen today, so it was very interesting to listen to. Plus, the idea that these were the first serial killers, prior to Jack the Ripper, prior to everyone we know about sans maybe Bloody Mary!

The story itself is about a family that migrated to Kansas. They introduced themselves as Ma, Pa, Junior, and Kate. These titles are thought to be fictional, so they could fit in like a good, Christian family, like anyone at that time. They used their cabin as a small inn, for guests to have a respite during their travels, before heading through to the town. Kate and her mother were actually related and used their knowledge of herbs to talk to people and sell their knowledge by potions and spirituality, which were both growing popular during that time. This also allowed them to become friends with many people in the town and when people started going missing, of course, they were the last to be looked at.

In the book, Kate speaks to a man who she thinks is her benefactor. He saved her life early on in the book and she thinks he’s looking over or for her. He even tells her which people can be potential victims and which to stay away from. She believes him to be a specter because nobody else in the family can see him. Kate’s story in itself is very interesting and drew me in. You could almost believe that she was a victim. And she was, but not after 30 killings. She definitely pushes the envelope on empathy. And I’m actually curious if her story is as good as the author writes.

The audio was pretty good. The first copy I got fell off immediately and I was scared that was how it ended! ACK! But, fortunately, it was just a strange copy, thank goodness. I only had an hour left, but stopping in the middle, especially that far into the book was a nightmare! That didn’t have anything to do with the book, fortunately, and it ended very well. The narrator, Molly King, did read a little slowly, but maybe due to so much information coming in. There are a lot of people that this family takes in, to either kill or let move along, but either way, it’s a lot. But, due to that I wound up listening at 150%. Which is a bit normal for me, as I like listening faster, but at the regular pace, it seemed extremely slow.

Audiobook was provided for review by the author/narrator/publisher.

Please find this complete review and many others at my review blog.

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  • Lomeraniel
  • 24-06-2018

Entertaining version of historic events

This is the second book I read about this topic this year, and I find it rather curious, since I didn’t know about this piece of American History before. the Bloody Benders were a supposed family living close to the Osage Trail in Kansas, where they set up a small shop and inn, and offered food to travelers passing by just to kill them and steal their possessions. What makes the Benders so special is the amount of people they killed (and buried on their property) and that they were never caught.

I really enjoyed the version of the Bloody Bender’s story, and it’s clear that Ibbetson know his history. The book is well written, and he put special attention to details and gave the characters the personality needed in order to not only tell a piece of American History but also entertain the reader.

As the Benders were never caught, and many parts of the story are conjectures, many gaps had to be filled in. It is believed that Kate was the brain behind the whole operation, and in this case Ibbetson added a demoniac presence that led Kate on her pursues. Ibbetson also tried to explain why some of the kills were different, and why some could have gone wrong and make the neighbors suspicious. I really enjoyed the story but the demoniac inspiration was the part that I had more issues to buy.

What I had some issues with was the narration. Molly King sounded a bit insecure narrating the story, and the audible breaths and mouth noises were a bit annoying. For the rest, the characters’ interpretations were quite good, although some male voices did not sound very convincing.

I enjoyed the book, and I would recommend it to anyone curious about American History, and specially this lesser-known chapter in it.

I received a copy of this book in audio format from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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  • Teresa Noel
  • 08-05-2018

Fact and fiction in one book

This book is the story of the Bender family who 1873 were the family involved in the largest serial killing in US history. The book is filled with historical facts s well as some fiction. I am still on the fence about the addition of the fiction. I am all about historical events n their true telling but the fiction did add to the story to an extent.

Between 1871 and 1873 the Bender family later known as the Bloody Benders murdered at least 12 people along the Osage Trail in Kansas. The family was able to escape being captured and disappeared. They were never caught.

Paul A. Ibbetson has done a really good job adding fact and fiction together to bring this book to us. Molly King narrates the audiobook and though she done a good job with the book at times I was a little put off by her rendition. Some of her voices grated on my nerves, sometimes she sped up and raced through parts.

I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Cynthia Tate
  • 28-12-2017

Great book

I always thought that the benders got caught but in the end they got what was due. The book was good and I would read it again

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  • jb
  • 15-07-2017

Extremely creative, mind gripping!

Very entertaining! A true masterpiece , the writer puts you in the mind of the killers. Hard to believe such a horrific thing happened in Kansas! Kudos for bringing the story to life with so much documented evidence combined with a tale that makes you wonder, could this all be true? Once you start this book you will be looking forward to you time the with the Benders! Up till the very end, it is action packed!!

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  • Scott Bennett
  • 19-02-2017

Very interesting story

I had heard the story of the Benders before. This book had a lot of interesting backstory I'd never heard before. I listened to the audio version narrated by Molly King who did a good job. My only criticism is that she read just a bit too fast at times. Nevertheless, a very engrossing tale of a "family" of serial killers.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Simple Woman
  • 30-11-2016

Good story terrible narration

Decent story with interesting fictional account of a truly awful series of murders. Narrator should NOT have tried to imitate male accents. Ruined it for me with her constant poor attempts at speaking like various men in the story.