The Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age Crime That Scandalized a City & Sparked the Tabloid Wars by Paul Collins
I first became aware of this book through a contest. You entered to win the book, the only thing required of you was to write an honest review.
I entered and couldn’t wait for my email saying they were sending the book to my kindle!
I checked my email, and I saw that they decided to not send me the book.
As they felt I wasn’t suited to it, that I wasn’t the “right choice” of reader.
I was so mad.
But I still really wanted to read it. So I put it on my Goodreads’ list, and decided to wait until my library bought a copy, to borrow and read it.
So lo and behold, I got my hands on a copy and I LOVED IT!
The book chronicles the discovery of chopped up body found in different sections of New York City, in 1897. All the great newspapers were sparring at the time and competing as to who could find the man’s identity and figure out the killer first. The book is divided into seven parts.
I: The Victim
The pieces of the body are found scattered throughout the city and surrounding, minus a head. From boys discovering the chest while taking a dip off a pier; a family going cherry picking and finding a leg; to a farmer looking at a red duck pond and realizing that not only has blood tainted the water but there is also a body part.
Which such an astounding discovery, reporters are sent out everywhere, investigating before the police even decided it was a murder case.
II: The Suspects
After figuring out who the mutilated corpse was, reporters discover his lover Mrs. Nack, her estranged husband, and new love interest. Which one did the killing? Who is innocent?
Each newspaper backs up a seperate person as innocent and persecutes who they believe to be a villian. It is up to the police to do actual work in investigating who has the motive, means, and of course: who actually did it not who makes the best news.
III: The Indictment
The police settle on who they believe the killer is, the D.A is building a case and defense attorneys are fighting for their chance to represent the case of a lifetime.
Now just because the police are preparing to prosecute someone, doesn’t mean it is all over fpor the newspapers. They are still contending with each other, and making sure everyone knows the facts and fiction.
IV: The Trial
Jury selection begins, a truly difficult matter as with the newspapers how they are, as practically every person is aware of what the case entails.
As the accused await trial, the newspapers continue to cover and predict what will happen next. Men and women travel from all over to watch the trial, enduring a rotten stench, extreme heat, and other issues arising from the poor construction of a courthouse.
V: The Verdict
The jury and judge decide whom the guilty parties are and distribute sentence. Appeals are made to the government and the newspapers.
Collins concludes with not only a summarization of what happened next in our main character’s lives; but also gives a brief lesson on the newspapers rises, falls, and buyouts.
Thoughts After Reading:
I ABSOLUTELY LOVED this book.
I thought it was supremely perfect. It was informative, historical, and told everything in an amazing and interesting way. I know many historians fall victim to being dry and dull, but not this work. In fact I had the hardest time putting it down.
Everything about it was just amazing! I am dying to buy a copy. And I am looking forward to reading more of Collins’ work.
For more Goodreads recommendations, go to The Dollhouse Murders
For more book reviews, go to Good, Clean, Murder