By Harold Schechter
From well known true-crime historian Harold Schechter, whom The Boston ebook evaluate hails as "America's vital chronicler of its maximum psychopathic killers," comes the riveting exploration of a infamous, sensational long island urban homicide within the Nineties, the interesting forensic technology of an past age, and the explosively dramatic trial that grew to become a tabloid sensation on the flip of the century.
Death used to be through poison and got here within the mail: A package deal of Bromo Seltzer were anonymously despatched to Harry Cornish, the preferred athletic director of Manhattan's elite Knickerbocker Athletic membership. Cornish slightly survived swallowing a small dose; his cousin Mrs. Katherine Adams died in affliction after eating the poisonous brew. Scandal sheets owned through Hearst and Pulitzer eagerly jumped in this tale of deadly high-society intrigue, speculating that the devious killer used to be a chemist, a girl, or "an effeminate man." Forensic reports steered cyanide because the explanation for loss of life; handwriting at the lethal package deal and the vestige of a label glued to the bottle pointed to a good-looking, athletic society scamp, Roland Molineux.
The wayward son of a respected Civil conflict common, Molineux had clashed bitterly with Cornish prior to. He had even furiously denounced Cornish while penning his resignation from the Knickerbocker membership, a letter that later proved a huge clue. Bon vivant Molineux had lately wed the sensuous Blanche Chesebrough, an opera singer whose former lover, Henry Barnet, had additionally lately died . . . after taking medication despatched to him during the mail. Molineux's next indictment for homicide resulted in explosive trials, a sex-infused scandal that stunned the state, and a lurid print-media circus that led to insanity and a proud family's disgrace.
In daring, amazing strokes, Schechter captures the entire colours of the tumultuous felony case, collecting his personal proof and tackling matters not anyone dared tackle on the time--all in hopes of answering the tantalizing query: What powerfully darkish explanations may well force the rich scion of an eminent manhattan relatives to foul murder?
Schechter vividly portrays the case's attention-grabbing solid of characters, together with Julian Hawthorne, son of Nathaniel Hawthorne, a prolific yellow journalist who lined the tale, and proud normal Edward Leslie Molineux, whose son's ignoble deeds besmirched a dignified nationwide hero's ultimate years. the entire whereas Schechter brings alive Manhattan's Gilded Age: a gaslit global of chic city homes and hidden bordellos, stylish eating places and tacky opium dens, a urban peopled via women and men combating and wasting the conflict opposed to urges an upright period had ordered suppressed.
Superbly researched and powerfully written, The Devil's Gentleman is an insightful, gripping paintings, a true-crime historian's crowning fulfillment.