The Baltimore Atrocities

Novel by John Dermot Woods

A whodunit without the who, this illustrated compendium of mayhem and misfortune spirals out from an investigation into two disappearances.

October 2014
6 x 8 | 259 Pages
Trade Paperback

Thanks to a 2013 ADA Access Improvement Grant administered by VSA Minnesota for the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, this title is also formatted for screen readers which make text accessible to the blind and visually impaired.

To purchase this title for use with a screen reader please call (612) 338-0125 or email us at

ISBN: 978-1-56689-371-8.



The Baltimore Atrocities is a mordant, deadpan collection of more than one hundred murders, betrayals, heartbreaks, suicides, and bureaucratic snafus—each with a half-page illustration by the author—that tells the story of a couple who spends a year in Baltimore in search of their respective siblings, who were abducted decades earlier as young children.

Electric Literature 25 Best Novels of 2014

Praise for John Dermot Woods:

“A novel of mysteries, obsession, and subtle conspiracies . . . [a] descent into a possibly unknowable landscape.”Vol. 1 Brooklyn

“Poignant and unsettling, and much like a good short story collection these tales resonate long after the book is closed.”—Largehearted Boy

“An accomplished artist and writer, in addition to being an entertaining and often an electrifying one. John Woods does something very original in his combining of the arts in this collection, and my hat’s off to him in his two-hat achievement.”—Stephen Dixon


“Bear attacks, dissections, suicides—you’re far safer in an episode of The Wire than in the twisted (and illustrated) world of this deadpan missing-persons noir.”O Magazine

“We leave “The Baltimore Atrocities” reeling from its medley of antic happenings and feeling more perplexed than when we went in, but also relieved that there are writers like Woods who are boldly picking up where past masters left off.”Star Tribune

“The book feels like a philosophical reflection on various types of loss. As a result, it subverts expectations for what is ostensibly a mystery.”Baltimore Magazine

“A mesmerizing and bewildering descent into the collective irrational where civic failure meets personal flaws.”Electric Literature

“In “The Baltimore Atrocities,” Woods takes two different forms of fiction and joins them to create a book that is like nothing else. . . Each micro-story is so intense and suffused with meaning that it demands a moment of reflection before we move on to the next one.”Baltimore City Paper

“Woods’ caricatures are extreme and vial, but ultimately, more relatable to the type of people who believe everyone’s got a dark side, whether you see it on the surface or have to wait for it to be uncovered by the police reports.”Corduroy Books

“Like most great books, the experience provided by The Baltimore Atrocities is one you won’t quite have a name for afterward, though you might start sitting with your back to the wall when you go to the bar.”Vice

“This is a book that breaks boundaries on every page. It will make you squirm in your seat and laugh nervously. It will leave you lingering on a single page for minutes at a time, the wheels in your head turning. Far from atrocious, The Baltimore Atrocities is a fresh read charged with the promise of never letting you go.”Foxing Quarterly

“Both delightful and moving.”Full Stop

“A darkly funny romp through some collective nightmare version of Baltimore. Each short tale is an extended joke that often ends with a smirk. It’s the perfect bedside read for October.”

“Like a lost season of The Wire directed by Richard Linklater, The Baltimore Atrocities beguiles, bemuses, often horrifies, and never fails to impress. John Woods renders small moments of intimacy and violence with remarkable compression and eerie calm; together they form a rich disturbing portrait of the city-as-zonked-out-slaughterhouse, its denizens both the butchers and the butchered.”—Justin Taylor, author of Flings

“With The Baltimore Atrocities, John Dermot Woods creates his own contribution to American Gothic—a sort of uncanny Mid-Atlantic Noir that is unlike anything you’ve ever read. Woods weaves a classic narrative of young men trying to reclaim the troubling holes in their pasts with sketches inspired by America’s weirdest city. This marvelously illustrated cabinet of curiosities shows you the odds and ends are often worth more than just a sweeping sum of the parts. A dazzling journey.”—Porochista Khakpour, author of Sons and Other Flammable Objects and The Last Illusion

The Baltimore Atrocities unfolds like a conspiracy theorist’s web of coincidence and correlation, its pages seemingly the artifact of its own investigation, an inquiry as much about organizing the fallout of loss as it about solving its mystery. John Dermot Woods’ stunningly-illustrated novel is one of the most intelligent and moving books you’re likely to read this year, a striking accomplishment from one of our most distinctive writers.”—Matt Bell, author of In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods

“If you were to stumble upon Dennis Lehane and Jorge Luis Borges in a bar near closing time with the noises and fog of night fading in the background, you’ve entered in the land of The Baltimore Atrocities.”—Atticus Review

“Arresting. . . Disarmingly moving.”—Johns Hopkins Magazine