Saturday, August 20, 2011

Book Review: "The Murder of the Century"

I've made no secret over the years just how much I enjoy Paul Collins' books, and his latest is no exception: The Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age Crime that Scandalized a City and Sparked the Tabloid Wars (Crown, 2011) is another home run. The tale of the gruesome 1897 murder of New York masseuse William Guldensuppe by his (married) paramour Augusta Nack and her paramour Martin Thorn captivated New York for months, and Collins recounts the events as they happened, drawing on the extensive coverage in New York City's newspapers, police records, and other sources.

Collins offers a wide-angle view of the Guldensuppe case, delving deeply into the crime, the investigation, and the trials of the perpetrators. By doing so, he offers the possibility of looking at the extent to which the newspapers (particularly William Randolph Hearst's Journal and Joseph Pulitzer's World) played a key role in discovering evidence (or following leads which led to its discovery), influencing public opinion, and keeping interest in the case (and their increased circulation) alive.

A brilliant recreation of all aspects of this captivating, nasty crime and its aftermath.

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