The Ghosts of Eden Park by Karen Abbott (4 out of 5)

Well, nonfiction has saved me in May. There’s been a whole lot of ok fiction, but the nonfiction.. that’s a different story! The store did an off-site event for Karen some years back, for her awesome book, Sin in the Second City. She was super cool and riveting as a public speaker. There are years between the release of her titles because of her meticulous research. More than that, when you read her book, you can sense the depth of her love of history, and the seedier underbelly of much of it. Precisely the type of history I love to read! This book is due out August 6, 2019. It’s published by Crown, a division of Penguin Random House.

Another little devil running around during Prohibition. This time, his name is George Remus, a florid character who quits practicing law and starts trafficking whiskey. Why not? Everyone else was doing it! Success is a cakewalk. Within a few short years, he is known as “King of the Bootleggers”. He also bags a glamorous young wife, Imogene, who helps him spend those millions with sweeping decorations at their Cincinnati mansion, luxury-themed parties (one New Year’s Eve bash ends with Remus gifting all the lady guests with a new car!), and the very best of anything life has to offer. Behind every man stands a better woman. In this case, NOT his wife. Enter Mabel Walker Willebrandt, a tough, no-holds-barred prosecutor with the US Attorney’s Office, who vets right on Remus’ case. She sends her best, Franklin Dodge, to look into Remus and his empire. As I guessed, Dodge ends up caught in the feminine wiles of Imogene, and they begin an affair. Willebrandt succeeds in getting Remus busted, and while he is in prison, Imogene divorces him and takes all of his money, effectively ruining him when he is powerless to stop it. Remus is eventually released after serving his sentence, and begins trying to rebuild his empire. But first, he has to ruin Dodge and Imogene for ruining him. Triangles like this almost always end in murder.

Abbott is a master at crafting this sort of Jazz Age true crime triangle, all the while not losing sight of the other characters involved (Imogene’s daughter Ruth, the President, J. Edgar Hoover, Al Capone (by association), Remus’ sister). She gives total attention to her leads, while maintaining a thorough accounting of the times that these stories take place in, along with keeping the reader enthralled the whole time. Highly recommended.

~ by generationgbooks on May 23, 2019.

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