cornerofmadness (cornerofmadness) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

Books 1 & 2

The Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age Crime that Scandalized a City and Sparked the Tabloid WarsThe Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age Crime that Scandalized a City and Sparked the Tabloid Wars by Paul Collins

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a gruesome crime, a body chopped into pieces and wrapped in a distinctive cloth (note: distinctive anything is bad when it comes to crime because this was a major clue). But this book is about more than the crime. It's more about the tabloid wars between Hearst and Pultizer. What these journalists did (including interfering with the police, and flat out lying), was amazing and revolting at the same time.

The police (and the journalists) did a lot of leg work to track down who the dead man was to his lover, a married (unhappily) abortionist, Mrs Nack who they say had another younger lover, a German barber, Martin Thorn. Honestly I was less convinced of his guilt than maybe I should have been (thank you interfering journalist).

The book is very detailed, almost too much so. I was getting a bit bored with it, especially all the stuff when they were in prison awaiting trial. I'm not sure how they could know these conversations and to that end, I will say I miss the older way of doing non-fiction with footnotes because I'm not in the mood to search through pages of references to guess where stuff came from. That could be me showing my age.

It wasn't the most spellbinding of true crimes but it is well researched and thorough.

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A re-read that I totally forgot I read. Not one word seemed familiar (which is a bit scary) Yeah it was 7 years ago but I usually remember something...

Fever Dream (Pendergast, #10)Fever Dream by Douglas Preston

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the type of book that makes me wish Goodreads had half stars. For my other book blogging places, I can say this would have gotten a solid four stars until losing at least a half because of the ending.

It opens in Africa with the death of FBI special agent Aloysius Pendergast's wife, Helen. A decade later, he learns it wasn't a hunting accident but rather, murder. (No spoilers there, it's on the dust cover). Understandably, Pendergast wants to find out why his wife, in theory a gentle woman who worked for Doctors with Wings (along the lines of Doctors without Borders), dead. He enlists the help of his friend Vinnie D'Agosta from NYPD (and later Vinnie's lover Captain Hayward).

This is the type of story that works only if the protagonist is rich but Pendergast is so… As they start turning over rocks, looking for Helen's killer, the bodies start piling up. The reader knows who is behind it but watching Pendergast and D'Agosta try to figure it out is quite good. In fact, I really enjoyed this mystery a great deal.

So why did I want to give it somewhat less stars? The ending and one of the subplots. About half way through, Constance Greene, Pendergast's ward pops up and is in a lot of trouble. I have no idea why this was in there other than to lend that X-File like is it real or is it supernatural feel a lot of the Pendergast mysteries have. That, and to set up for the next book I'm assuming since this storyline trails off into the void. For that matter the whole thing is far too open ended for me so the ending really sucked away my enjoyment but still, it's a pretty good book over all.

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Tags: mystery, true crime

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