If the average person were to describe John Beecham in light of his murders

, he’d say he was a social outcast, but nothing could be more superficial, or more untrue. Beecham could never have turned his back on human society, nor society on him, and why? Because he was—perversely, perhaps, but utterly—tied to that society. He was its offspring, its sick conscience—a living reminder of all the hidden crimes we commit when we close ranks to live among each other. He craved human society, craved the chance to show people what their ‘society’ had done to him. And the odd thing is, society craved him, too.”

“Craved him?” I said, as we passed along the quiet perimeter of Washington Square Park. “How do you mean? They’d have shot him through with electricity if they’d had the chance.”

“Yes, but not before holding him up to the world,” Kreizler answered. “We revel in men like Beecham, Moore—they are the easy repositories of all that is dark in our very social world. But the things that helped make Beecham what he was? Those, we tolerate. Those, we even enjoy…”

—Caleb Carr, The Alienist