Oscar Wilde’s Last Stand: Decadence, Conspiracy, and the Most Outrageous Trial of the Century

So first of all today is Oscar Wilde’s birthday so I thought this would be a perfect time to post it.

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Oscar Wilde’s Last Stand: Decadence, Conspiracy, and the Most Outrageous Trial of the Century by Phillip Hoare

In the spring of 1918 London, Oscar Wilde was put on trial eighteen years after his death.

A staging of the Wilde’s play Salomé was finally permitted with Maud Allan as the lead. Her eroticism outraged Noel Pemberton Billing, a member of Parliament. He denounced her as part of the Cult of Clitoris, the female version of the Cult of Wilde.

He believed this cult had infected the land with its perversion.

Maud sued Billing for libel and the trial that followed held the world in thrall.  Did Billing really have a black book with the names of 47,000 members of the Cult of Wilde? Where they promoting degeneracy? Or was Billing just paranoid and hysterical?

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Thoughts After Reading:

This book was the most boring-est I’ve ever read. The author just throws you with so many characters and backstories it almost makes your mind want to explode as you are trying to figure out which character is important and need to be known later and who is filler.

Ugh!

The book just crawled by too. It made it horrible to read.

I think it would have been better if they started with the trial, giving us a taste, and then went into the people so we knew who was who. I didn’t like it and I don’t think I’ll be reading any of Hoare’s work in the future.

For more nonfiction, go to The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town

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The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town

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The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town by John Grisham

In small town Ada, Oklahoma; Ron Williamson was destined to become the next Micky Mantle. His only interests were baseball, beer, and girls. It was all he focused on as he barely graduated high school; decided to forgo college scholarships, and head off to the big leagues.

He ended up not making it to the big leagues, being sent to the minors to train; but Ron had no ambition enjoying his drink and women more.

Eventually he was cut and out of options returned home to Ada.

Ron started acting strange, suffering from mental illness, this not recognized at the time causing him to become a social pariah.

In 1982, a young cocktail waitress, Debra Sue Carter, was brutally murdered. Ron and his friend Dennis Fritz were arrested on lackluster testimony, more of a focus of people wanting to be rid of them as they disliked them.

Fritz was given life without parole and Williamson was given the death penalty. But when DNA testing that was developed and perfected in 1992, they later tested the hairs they found on the crime scene and where able to release the two on April 15, 1999.

What?!

Grisham follows the story from Ron’s childhood to his exoneration, but continual pariah in small town Ada.

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Thoughts After Reading:

I thought it was very well written and interesting, but also sad that these people stopped being objective and focused on having the evidence fit the suspect.

For more non-fiction, go to Ghost of the Hardy Boys

For more true crime stories, go to Cape May Court House: A Death in the Night

For more reviews, go to Death by Marriage

Ghost of the Hardy Boys

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Ghost of the Hardy Boys: An Autobiography by Leslie McFarlane, (the first Franklin W. Dixon)

I have never really been a fan of the Hardy Boys, except when they intersected with Nancy Drew. The Nancy Drew Casefiles had a cross over The Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys: Super Mysteries; along with the TV show The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries. The books, the few I read, never captured my attention. However, when I found this book, I decided to check it out and learn more about the creation of the Hardy Boys.

But first:

Happy 115th Birthday Leslie McFarlane!

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McFarlane started as a Canadian writer, trying to strike it in the publishing world. He works at a newspaper during the day, and at night putts away at the keyboard trying to write stories and have them published.

He works at a midwestern newspaper, while still trying to get his work published. One day he came upon an advertisement by Stratemeyer looking for a writer. It promised good money, so McFarlane decides to answer it.

He receives an outline for a book about two boys, Dave Fearless and his best pal as they go on all kinds of adventures, but the book was to be written not by McFarlane but a Roy Rockwood.

Yes, Stratemeyer has an amazing idea in that he will have all these series written, but not by real people but pseudonyms. If an “author” leaves, they can always be replaced with no one noticing.

MacFarlane gets paid enough that he leaves his job at the paper and heads back to his hometown. But even though Dave Fearless is paying the bills, MacFarlane hates the character with a passion.

However, one day he is given an outline without the snippet for the next book. He doesn’t think much about it, but it turns out that Fearless is toast. Instead, Stratemeyer has a new idea, a crime-solving duo The Hardy Boys.

From here begins MacFarlane’s career as Franklin W. Dixon. With him he breathes his own life and ideas into the characters, creating pieces that would remain with them throughout the years and their many rebranding for new generations.

Thoughts After Reading:

I Lobed it. MacFarlane is hilarious and so genuine in his writing. It feels as if he is taking directly to you and he holds nothing back. Loved it!

For more Non Fiction, go to High Road to the Stake: A Tale of Witchcraft

For more biographies, go to Agatha Christie: The Woman and Her Mysteries

High Road to the Stake: A Tale of Witchcraft

High Road to the Stake: A Tale of Witchcraft

Highroad to the Stake: A Tale of Witchcraft by Michael Kunze

Thoughts Before Reading:

I had to read this for my class on Early Modern Europe, but didn’t.

I know. Since I couldn’t return it I decided to just hold on to it and read it later.

Plot Synopsis:

This book is the account of the Pappenheimers family. This unit of five-father Paulus; mother Anna; sons Jacob (sometimes called Michel), Gumpprecht, and Hoel (sometimes called Hansel). They were a lower class family that moved around like gypsies.

An arrested thief named them as his conspirators in murdering pregnant women and called them witches. They were arrested and taken to Munich.

There they were tortured and accused of committing over hundreds of thefts and murders, basically any unsolved crime.

Michael Kunze gives a deatailed account of life in the 17th century, and a detailed account of the horror of the witch hunts and trials.

Thoughts After Reading:

I have tried to read this book five times and barely make it out of the first few chapters.

Ugh

It is so dense and I just can’t connect to the work. I’m not sure if it is his style or maybe the translation, but after the fifth time trying to read it; I just kissed it goodbye.

For more nonfiction, go to The Girl in Alfred Hitchcock’s Shower

For more books featuring witches, go to The Witch Hunter’s Tale

For more books I read for class, go to The Midwife’s Tale

For more book reviews, go to Beyond the Grave: A Choose Your Own Ending Mystery Adventure

The Girl in Alfred Hitchcock’s Shower

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The Girl in Alfred Hitchcock’s Shower by Robert Graysmith

Thoughts before Reading:

Today is a very special day.

Today, in 1960, Psycho was originally released in theaters.

I LOVE THE FILM AND ANYTHING Alfred Hitchcock.

I saw this book in the dollar tree and bought it because it had “Alfred Hitchcock” on the cover. This book involves his film Psycho which is one of my favorites!

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Plot Synopsis:

Alfred Hitchcock’s film Psycho had a lot of issues and complications in the filming. One issue was filming the shower scene.

Having a bathroom was enough of a hassle with the MPAA, but filming in the shower caused even more difficulties. Not to mention how to make it look real and scary.

Hmm…

Eventually all that was worked out and all that was needed was a body double for Janet Leigh, another difficult task as she has a body that wasn’t easily duplicated.

Hmm…

Ex-playboy bunny and redhead, Marli Renfro, was finally chosen and participated in the shoot.

Twenty-Eight years after Psycho came out, Leigh’s body double was murdered by her next-door neighbor, Kenneth Dean Hunt, in the same fashion as the film.

Over twenty years later, Robert Graysmith asked the question: What if Renfro was really alive? After all Leigh had two body doubles: one for the shower and one for lighting. What if the other double died and everyone got it wrong? He decided to search out for the truth.

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Thoughts After Reading:

I didn’t like the book as I didn’t enjoy the writer’s style. I thought that it was repetitive, boring, and he just went on and on about Renfro’s body.

I really didn’t want to hear about him constantly describing her nude form. I mean he was really obsessed with it.

For more Non-Fiction, go to Agatha Christie: The Woman and Her Mysteries

For more mystery reviews, go to Everbody Loved Roger Harlan

Agatha Christie: The Woman and Her Mysteries

So today marks the 126th birthday of Agatha Christie:

Agatha Christie, surrounded by some of her 80-plus crime novels.

Yay!

Yay!

You may not know this because I haven’t had an opportunity to review one of her books just yet, but Agatha Christie is one of my favorite authors. She revolutionized the way mysteries are written, and created a wonderful collection of characters.

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Not only are her plots amazing, but I like how she presents all the information to you that she gives her detective characters, putting the two of you on equal footing, although, Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot tend to always be smarter.

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Christie also does not shy away from doing extremely radical ideas, such as having a child be the killer

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Or having a part of the narration be through the killer’s eyes (although at the time you don’t realize that person is the killer.)

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Her work is so great that every time I am in a bookstore I hunt down her books as I hope to one day own them all.

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I strongly recommend reading any of her novels. When you start one, you just can’t stop.

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So to celebrate, instead of a mystery, I thought I would review a biography.

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Agatha Christie: The Woman and Her Mysteries by Gillian Gill

Plot Synopsis:

Unlike how most  authors are today, Agatha Christie was a very private person. In fact at one point in her life she disappeared for ten days. She has never released a statement about what really happened and it remains an unsolved mystery to this day.

This book is supposed to be an in depth look into her professional and private life. It’s plan is to look at the works as a way of determining her “inner self”.

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Thoughts After Reading:

I only gave this book two stars.

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I loved the factual material, but it was written too dry that it was hard to read.

It's been done TOO many times

It’s been done TOO many times

In fact her biographical fiction book Unfinished Portrait, written under her pseudonym Mary Westmacott, was a much more interesting and in depth look into who Christie was.

Very fishy

Also I hated how Gill would reveal the endings or important pieces of the mysteries.

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I know most people who will read this are fans of Christie but some might not have had the chance to read all just yet. I think it is incredibly unfair that she would do that, Christie’s books should not be ruined, but enjoyed. Everybody should have a chance to try their hand at figuring it out.

seriously

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For more Non-fiction, go to Cape May Court House: A Death in the Night

For more on Agatha Christie, go to This Business of the Clocks was Curious

For mystery reviews, go to Sleeping Beauty

Cape May Court House: A Death in the Night

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Cape Night Court House: A Death in the Night by Lawrence Schiller

This story is based on the true story and case started by Dr. Eric Thomas against Ford Vehicles, but then took a strange twist down adultery, and possible murder.

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This case took place back in the ’90s. Dr. Thomas, his wife Tracy Rose Thomas, and 18 month old daughter Alex all got into the car to take sick Alex to the hospital. For some reason, Tracey was driving the car while being pregnant, and she was the only one killed and injured.

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The autopsy should she died from blunt force trauma, consistent with smacking her head in a car accident, however there were some suspicious marks on Tracey’s neck that brought up questions.

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Her family was shocked at the death, and also thought it was a bit strange. Why would Tracey drive, she never drove when pregnant. And right before she died, Tracey had called in the middle of the night and made her parents promise to make sure, that if anything happened to her to take her daughter.

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Things got stranger still, right after Tracey died. Dr. Thomas asked Tracey’s family, the Roses, to remove every image of Tracey or else they wouldn’t be able to see Alex again.

What?

Even more suspicious Dr. Thomas remarries his old sweetheart Stephanie, very quickly and without even mentioning it to Tracey’s family. As the Roses become more and more skeptical, they discuss their views with the cops, bringing to light the strange way in which Dr. Thomas had answered questions after the accident, even switching and mistakenly answering things.

Sad but true.

Meanwhile, Dr. Thomas decides to open a case against Ford, blaming the car company’s faulty airbags on her death.

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Of course, Ford would never wish to payout and they start investigating, discovering that Dr. Thomas had been having an affair with Stephanie long before Tracey died. And a lot of debts, debts that were paid for by her life insurance.

Interesting

Interesting

Was Tracy Thomas killed in a car accident, or was the accident a cover up for murder?

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Thoughts after Reading:

I thought it was good, the only thing I didn’t care was the endless facts on cars, car safety, etc.

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Yes, it was very dry and I just wanted to skip it all.

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But the rest of the story was very interesting, but inconclusive. As it is real life, we don’t get a nice tidy ending; in fact all we get are more questions.

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For more non-fiction, go to The Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age Crime That Scandalized a City & Sparked the Tabloid Wars

For more book reviews, go to A is for Alibi

The Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age Crime That Scandalized a City & Sparked the Tabloid Wars

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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!

Please!

I checked my email, and I saw that they decided to not send me the book.

What?

As they felt I wasn’t suited to it, that I wasn’t the “right choice” of reader.

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I was so mad.

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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!

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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.

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I: The Victim

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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.

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II: The Suspects

Are you lying to me?

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.

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III: The Indictment

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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.

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IV: The Trial

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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.

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V: The Verdict

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The jury and judge decide whom the guilty parties are and distribute sentence. Appeals are made to the government and the newspapers.

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VI: Epilogue

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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.

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Thoughts After Reading:

I ABSOLUTELY LOVED this book.

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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.

from janeaustenrunsmylife.wordpress.com

from janeaustenrunsmylife.wordpress.com

Everything about it was just amazing! I am dying to buy a copy. And I am looking forward to reading more of Collins’ work.

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For more Goodreads recommendations, go to The Dollhouse Murders

For more book reviews, go to Good, Clean, Murder