Privilege, Poison, and the Trial That Ushered in the Twentieth Century
Format: Trade Paperback, 512 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books
ISBN: 978-0-345-47680-7 (0-345-47680-8)
Pub Date: September 30, 2008
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From renowned true-crime historian Harold Schechter comes the riveting exploration of a notorious New York City murder in the 1890s, the fascinating forensic science of an earlier time, and the grisly court case that became a tabloid spectacle.
The wayward son of a revered Civil War general, Roland Molineux enjoyed good looks, status, and fortune–hardly the qualities of a prime suspect in a series of shocking, merciless cyanide killings. Molineux’s subsequent indictment for murder led to two explosive trials and a sex-infused scandal that shocked the nation. Bringing to life Manhattan’s Gilded Age, Schechter captures all the colors of the tumultuous legal proceedings, gathering his own evidence and tackling subjects no one dared address at the time–all in hopes of answering a tantalizing question: What powerfully dark motives could drive the wealthy scion of an eminent New York family to murder?
Praise for The Devil's Gentleman:
“A heady tale of sin, sex, jealousy and revenge in sepia-toned Manhattan.”
–The New York Times
“A dark chronicle of ghoulish revenge [and] journalistic sensationalism . . . [a] well-wrought anatomy of a murder and portrait of an age.”
–The Wall Street Journal
“Schechter peppers his account of one of America’s earliest media circuses with peacock characters and deliciously tawdry details. . . . For scandal sweet tooths, this one’s a beaut.”
“In the hands of an artist and historian as gifted as Schechter, the material becomes a superbly evocative reconstruction of the fascinating period in American life that gave birth to our media-crazed society.”
“Well told and powerfully written . . . Through newspaper accounts of the day and memoirs of the principals . . . Schechter brings [a crime] to vivid life.”
–San Antonio Express-News
Advance praise for The Devil’s Gentleman
“A thrilling account of a murder case that rocked Manhattan at the turn of the 20th century . . . Schechter expertly weaves a rich historical tapestry–exploring everything from the birth of ‘yellow’ journalism to the history of poison as a murder weapon–without sacrificing a novelistic sense of character, pacing and suspense. The result is a riveting tale of murder, seduction and tabloid journalism run rampant in a New York not so different from today’s.”
–Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Praise for the true-crime books of Harold Schechter
“The scholarship is both genuine and fascinating.”
–The Boston Book Review, on The A to Z Encyclopedia of Serial Killers
–Booklist, on Deviant
“Reads like fiction but it’s chillingly real.”
–The Philadelphia Inquirer, on Deranged
“Riveting . . . brilliantly detailed . . . Schechter has done his usual sterling job in resurrecting this amazing tale.”
–Caleb Carr, on Depraved
From the Hardcover edition.
Harold Schechter is a professor of American literature and culture at Queens College, the City University of New York. He is widely celebrated for both fiction and true-crime writing, including The Serial Killer Files. He lives in Brooklyn and Mattituck, Long Island, with his wife, the poet Kimiko Hahn. Visit the author’s website at www.haroldschechter.com.
From the Hardcover edition.
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