Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Murder of the Century by Paul Collins

The Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age Crime That Scandalized a City and Sparked the Tabloid Wars by Paul Collins
Published by: Broadway Books
Publication Date: June 1st, 2011
Format: Paperback, 336 Pages
To Buy

"No one expects a headless torso. (Well, hardly anyone?) When pieces of a body started popping up around New York in the hot summer of 1897, both police and reporters swung into action, in a competition to see who could solve the crime first. Aside from being fascinating in its own right as a) a murder mystery, and b) a look at the less-traveled immigrant corners of Gilded Age Manhattan, this book provided me with a great deal of color about the workings of the tabloid press in late 19th century New York. Of course, the murder in The English Wife doesn’t involve dismembering (just saying, just in case you were wondering), and it’s set among New York’s Knickerbocker elite rather than the German immigrant community, but this book was part of what inspired me to make one of my main characters, James Burke, a reporter at The World, drawn into an uneasy alliance with the sister of the murdered man as they both search for the truth." - Lauren Willig

The official patter:
"On Long Island, a farmer finds a duck pond turned red with blood. On the Lower East Side, two boys playing at a pier discover a floating human torso wrapped tightly in oilcloth. Blueberry pickers near Harlem stumble upon neatly severed limbs in an overgrown ditch. Clues to a horrifying crime are turning up all over New York, but the police are baffled: There are no witnesses, no motives, no suspects.

The grisly finds that began on the afternoon of June 26, 1897, plunged detectives headlong into the era's most baffling murder mystery. Seized upon by battling media moguls Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst, the case became a publicity circus. Reenactments of the murder were staged in Times Square, armed reporters lurked in the streets of Hell's Kitchen in pursuit of suspects, and an unlikely trio--a hard-luck cop, a cub reporter, and an eccentric professor--all raced to solve the crime.

What emerged was a sensational love triangle and an even more sensational trial: an unprecedented capital case hinging on circumstantial evidence around a victim whom the police couldn't identify with certainty, and who the defense claimed wasn't even dead. The Murder of the Century is a rollicking tale--a rich evocation of America during the Gilded Age and a colorful re-creation of the tabloid wars that have dominated media to this day."


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