AHML Staff Choices
Books that have been read and enjoyed by Arlington Heights Memorial Library Staff.
Subtitled, the gilded age crime that scandalized a city & sparked the tabloid wars, Murder of the Century takes place in 1897 when body parts are found scattered in various locations throughout New York. What makes this interesting is this is the start of the tabloid wars in New York. Although William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer had been trying to outdo each other for a few years, it was this murder that really ratcheted up the ante.
Both the Journal and the Herald offered reward money for information leading to the identity of the body (they put the pieces together without the head which was never found). Hearst pushed the Journal to publish more and more about every little clue. Even though some of the clues clearly had nothing to do with the murder, if they had their own sordid story, Hearst went with it. Pulitzer also tried to be first to publish the information.
The solving of the murder is here from the poor detectives who had to do their job under the watchful and following eyes of the reporters, to the courtroom antics, and the viewings at the morgue. Every day for months, people were allowed to come down to the morgue to view the body and make a guess as to whom it belonged.
The murder is solved and actually quite quickly once they get a vital clue. However, the New York papers were never the same. The largest typeface, traditionally held only for declarations of war, appeared for the most sordid stories for morning and evening reading. And in color!
This isn’t an in-depth view of yellow journalism but how one New York murder changed the way newspapers delivered the news.
Thad Roberts could never fit in anywhere. He was bullied at school and his teachers felt he wasn’t applying himself. He should be working at genius level. But Thad found a wonderful girl who loved him. When his strict Mormon parents find out about the relationship they make Thad marry and kick him out of the house. His wife works while he finishes his degree in Life Sciences.
Always dreaming of being an astronaut, Thad gets accepted into the Intern program at Johnson Space Center. He knew that all of the shuttles had pilots from the military. But there was always a scientist or two on the shuttle missions and he wanted to be one of them, or God willing, one of the first people on Mars. So leaving his wife to work in Utah, he went to Houston to start his Internship.
Because of his degree in Geology Thad was assigned to the unit that worked with the lunar samples. Due to the long distance between them, his relationship with his wife falls apart. Thad falls in love with another Intern in the program and plans to steal the moon rocks and sell them for millions of dollars so that he and his love can go away and live their own lives. One problem: it is illegal for individuals to own moon rocks in the United States.
This true story is mainly a character study, but the action runs at a steady clip. Thad Roberts shared his story with Mezrich including the events that led up to the most amazing heist in history. Sex on the Moon is a highly readable story of a terribly misguided young man who desperately wants to be accepted and loved and is willing to do anything to get it
I normally do not read romance novels, but the vivid details of this period in history, the costumes, customs, food, and social lives of the upper class of the Gilded Age really drew me into the story. The author deftly used the culture clash of American new money vs. Victorian tradition to move the plot along. There were plenty of twists and turns in the plot, so that you were always second-guessing what you thought was going to happen. The cast of supporting characters was delightful, including Prince Bertie himself. The American Heiress is Daisy Goodwin’s debut novel, which came as a surprise to me. Her writing is excellent and mature. This was really a fun summer read.