I bought The Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age Crime That Scandalized a City & Sparked the Tabloid Wars awhile back. It finally worked its way to the top of my “to read” pile. I wish I had read it sooner because I really liked it.
The main story involves the identification of a dismembered corpse. Once the body is identified as William Guldensuppe, which leads to two suspects, Augusta Knack, Guldensuppe’s lover, and Martin Thorn, Knack’s lover. However, it is much harder for the police to figure out which of the two suspects committed the murder and whether the other was a willing participant or a dupe.
While the pursuit of the murderer makes an interesting story in itself, the secondary story of how the newspapers played up the story to the point of actually becoming part of the story is just as interesting. Reporters planted evidence, interrogated witnesses, and enlisted their readers in the search for missing body parts.
This was the age of “yellow journalism” with the newspapers of William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer competing against each other to be number one.
The story flowed like a bestselling mystery and kept me interested throughout. I kept bouncing back and forth over which of the two suspects committed the murder.
Collins also does a great job of setting the scene. He puts you in the period with colorful descriptions of life in the city.
I found after reading the book that I was searching the Internet looking for the newspapers and books mentioned in the book.