Narrative Biography of a Trailblazing Lawyer Turned Detective, Almost Lost to History

Book review: Mrs. Sherlock Holmes, by Brad Ricca (Amazon / Book Depository) Newly told stories of women who have faded into the annals of history despite significant contributions from their life’s work are becoming an increasingly popular, welcomed trend. Author Brad Ricca’s Mrs. Sherlock Holmes covers one such story – that of Grace Humiston, a New York City lawyer in the early 1900s who earned … Continue reading Narrative Biography of a Trailblazing Lawyer Turned Detective, Almost Lost to History

The Latest On Lizzie: Extensive Account of The Infamous Maybe-Murderer

Book review: The Trial of Lizzie Borden, by Cara Robertson (Amazon / Book Depository) Lizzie Borden’s is a story that’s persistently intrigued us for over a century. This latest nonfiction treatment, coming on the heels of multiple recent novels, a TV movie and series, a work of YA nonfiction, and a feature film shows that’s not likely to change anytime soon. Why does this case … Continue reading The Latest On Lizzie: Extensive Account of The Infamous Maybe-Murderer

Reinvestigating A Mysterious Murder In Old China

Book review: Midnight in Peking, by Paul French (Amazon / Book Depository) After reading a footnote briefly referencing the murder of a young English expat in Peking (now Beijing), author Paul French woke up the next morning with the strong conviction that there was a deep and strange story behind it that needed telling. Midnight in Peking is the ominously suspenseful historical true crime account that … Continue reading Reinvestigating A Mysterious Murder In Old China

A True Victorian Murder Mystery Set in a “Dollhouse”

Book review: The Lady in the Cellar, by Sinclair McKay Book Depository Number 4, Euston Square, seemingly so prosperous, well-run and attractive, was a boarding house filled with unease; a house that was restless at night; a house with secrets. Soon it would seem like a gigantic doll’s house, open to examination by the entire nation. In Victorian London in 1879, a macabre discovery was … Continue reading A True Victorian Murder Mystery Set in a “Dollhouse”

An Intriguing Cold Case and an Exhausting Memoir

Book review: The Kill Jar, by J. Reuben Appelman Amazon Over about a year spanning 1976-1977, at least four children were killed in Detroit’s Oakland County by a serial killer clunkily dubbed the Oakland County Child Killer, or OCCK. The case remains officially unsolved, but as J. Reuben Appelman lays out in this true crime narrative cum memoir, that’s not for lack of information, plenty … Continue reading An Intriguing Cold Case and an Exhausting Memoir

Historical Scandal, Murder and Medicine at Harvard

Book review: Blood & Ivy, by Paul Collins Amazon On November 23, 1849, shortly before Thanksgiving, Dr. George Parkman entered Harvard’s Medical College to visit a tenant of his, the college’s chemistry professor, John White Webster. He was never seen again. A familiar figure in and around Boston, Dr. Parkman’s disappearance grabbed plenty of news headlines, both the expected and the fanciful, and generated waves … Continue reading Historical Scandal, Murder and Medicine at Harvard

A 1937 Crime and Trial Setting Historical Precedence

Book review: Little Shoes, by Pamela Everett (Amazon / Book Depository) I noticed this book was coming out after reading Piu Eatwell’s take on Elizabeth Short’s infamous murder, Black Dahlia, Red Rose. In that book, Eatwell repeatedly references the profiling work of Dr. Paul De River, a psychiatrist who, before psychologically profiling and interviewing Dahlia suspect Leslie Dillon, had used similar techniques to help secure a conviction … Continue reading A 1937 Crime and Trial Setting Historical Precedence

New York City’s 16-Year Manhunt and Criminal Profiling’s Beginnings

Book review: Incendiary, by Michael Cannell (Amazon / Book Depository) In 1956 there was no such thing as criminal profiling; nobody could recall an instance when the police had consulted a psychiatrist. It was a collaboration fabricated in detective novels, but never found in real life. Every one of today’s profilers, real or televised, traces his or her lineage back to the psychiatrist who depicted the … Continue reading New York City’s 16-Year Manhunt and Criminal Profiling’s Beginnings

A Case for a Suspect in One of LA’s Most Notorious Unsolved Murders

Book review: Black Dahlia, Red Rose, by Piu Eatwell (Amazon / Book Depository) More compelling still is the woman at the center of it all. The woman about whom there is so much speculation, but whom nobody really knows. We know that she was young, beautiful, complex, elusive, contradictory. That in her real life she occupied a territory as uncharted and controversial as the film … Continue reading A Case for a Suspect in One of LA’s Most Notorious Unsolved Murders

Hurston/Wright Legacy Award-Winner: Racial Politics and Murder in Post-Reconstruction Philadelphia

Book review: Hannah Mary Tabbs and the Disembodied Torso, by Kali Nicole Gross (Amazon / Book Depository) In 1887, in a pond just outside of Philadelphia, the dismembered torso of a man was discovered, triggering a search that eventually led to Hannah Mary Tabbs, a Maryland native and seemingly very unpleasant lady, according to many who knew her. She had been, quite scandalously for a black … Continue reading Hurston/Wright Legacy Award-Winner: Racial Politics and Murder in Post-Reconstruction Philadelphia

A Braided History of Two Killers in 1952 London

Book review: Death in the Air, by Kate Winkler Dawson (Amazon / Book Depository) In 1952, two killers stalked postwar London. One was a serial killer: an average-looking, mostly unremarkable, middle-aged invoice clerk operating out of a grungy, now-notorious apartment building; the other was far more insidious and claimed many more victims: a suffocating, polluting smog that killed around 12,000 people. Maybe you can guess which got more media attention. Kate … Continue reading A Braided History of Two Killers in 1952 London

A Reporter, A Newspaper, And A Rural Cold Case

Book review: Mary Jane’s Ghost, by Ted Gregory Histories – call them stories if you like – never really end. It’s more like they continue to unfold, but we’ve left them; they’ve ceased to resonate. Chicago Tribune general assignment reporter Ted Gregory gets roped into the investigation and conspiracies of a fifty-year-old cold case while ruminating on the state of print newspapers and the difficulty in … Continue reading A Reporter, A Newspaper, And A Rural Cold Case