The Murder of the Century by Paul Collins

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Synopsis

“No writer better articulates ourinterest in the confluence of hope, eccentricity, and the timelessness of the bold and strange than Paul Collins.”—DAVE EGGERS
 
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.
 


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Paul Collins

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PAUL COLLINS is the author of seven books, which have been translated into ten languages. His work has appeared in Slate, New Scientist, and the New York Times, and he is regularly featured on NPR's Weekend Edition as their "literary detective." He lives in Portland, Oregon.
 
Published June 14, 2011 by Broadway Books. 338 pages
Genres: Crime, Biographies & Memoirs, History. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Murder of the Century

The Wall Street Journal

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But the newspapers had put themselves on the trail, in particular Joseph Pulitzer's New York World and William Randolph Hearst's New York Journal.

Jun 11 2011 | Read Full Review of The Murder of the Century

The Independent

Flanders gives an account of the Road Hill House Murder of 1860 (the subject of Kate Summerscale's fascinating book The Suspicions of Mr Whicher in 2008), whose outwardly tranquil middle-class setting increased the horror generated by the violent murder of a toddler.

Dec 31 2010 | Read Full Review of The Murder of the Century

Oregon Live

Holmes (as related in Erik Larson's bestseller "The Devil in the White City") or the high-society 1906 murder of architect Stanford White, the killing of William Guldensuppe was the talk of the town during summer and fall 1897 in New York.

Jun 10 2011 | Read Full Review of The Murder of the Century

Denver Post

Not only is the Evening World missing from the narrative, but, according to the author's notes, he did not even consult it.

Aug 07 2011 | Read Full Review of The Murder of the Century

Denver Post

Not only is the Evening World missing from the narrative, but, according to the author's notes, he did not even consult it.

Aug 07 2011 | Read Full Review of The Murder of the Century

City Book Review

The papers, however, were quick to realize that it wasn’t a prank and took the lead, running down the fabric that the torso was wrapped in, dredging portions of the East River, and often being first on the scene as new evidence, and more body parts, were discovered.

Sep 12 2011 | Read Full Review of The Murder of the Century

PopMatters

The Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age Crime that Scandalized a City and Sparked the Tabloid Wars by Paul Collins opens with a truly terrifying statement: “It was a slow afternoon for news.” After all, we all know what kind of gems pop up on the local and national news when there is no “real”...

Aug 08 2011 | Read Full Review of The Murder of the Century

Macleans

Winning that was the making of Hearst, sending him past Pulitzer in circulation and opinion-moulding power, and forcing his rival’s slow retreat to respectability (later cemented by the bequest that still funds the Pulitzer prizes in journalism).

Jun 17 2011 | Read Full Review of The Murder of the Century

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