Two great passions - dogs and books! Sci-fi/fantasy novels are my go-to favorites, but I love good writing across all genres.
I am not much of a True Crime aficionado, but I picked up this book when it went on sale because this murder took place right just as the US prepared to leap into the 20th century and I am very interested in that period of history. As the country stood on the cusp of great change, there was hardly a place to better document the challenges of the age than New York City. In telling the story of this one gruesome murder, Paul Collins is occasionally plodding and repetitive, but he does do a great job of detailing this period of yellow journalism, some of the societal impact of the huge wave of immigration that was taking place, and the roots of modern forensic science (and some of the pseudo science that still reigned in that day). William Dufris is not my favorite narrator, but his Ed Murrow style works pretty well with this book. The details of the murder and suspected murderers are not that engaging (kind of made me wish I could read it the way Hearst would have presented it instead), but this is a good snapshot of turn-of-the-century life (and death).
I have edited 38 national best sellers and had a writing fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
This book centered on solving a crime. Part of a body washed up on shore, and the police had to figure out the victim's identity and nab the perp. The competition among the NY newspapers at this time was intense, and Pulitzer and Hearst tried to out-sensationalize each other's papers.
This sounds really interesting, right? But it wasn't. The investigation itself wasn't exciting, and the people involved were not complex or fascinating.
The criminals in this book were German immigrants, so an important factor in the performance was the reader's ability to nail a German accent. He was way off. He improved as he went along, but it was never consistent or convincing.
With so many good books out there, I wouldn't opt for this one.
I read science, biographies, histories, mysteries, adventures, thrillers, educationals, linguistics but not no way, not no how, romances.
True crime is really quite a fun genre, in and of itself, but I particularly enjoy it when it adds historical context and historical significance. This was the case with the dismembered body found in New York just before the turn of the century. What followed was an investigation just as scientific method was starting to be applied to investigations and a trial that ran into incredible difficulties. More than just the investigation, arrest and trial, this is a story about the rise of "yellow journalism" and how it made several careers and created the modern journalistic style we know today. Through this tale of one-upsmanship we can see the rise of the paparazzi and the 24 hour news cycle.
So yes, I recommend this book. The murder is sensational, the characters are interesting, the impact on modern America is recognizable. Enjoy it!
the newspaper angle and how tabloids got started
engaging and good performance
long but excellent
iloved the deatails of police work in late 18s00
The narrator was excellent. The story was fascinating.
The feeling of the time and place the writing gave. Hearing the account of how newspapers operated at the beginning of the century was engrossing. The tabloid wars was something I knew little about. New perspective now on Citizen Kane.
That I did not notice him much. He did enough when he was doing dialogue to bring characters to life but not too much.
OCD over books, listening to 1 a day; ANY genre, fact & fiction. Influenced by Audible reviewers so I keep mine unbiased - FRONT to BLACK!
I actually enjoyed this book after a spate of recent true crime books which were absolutely awful. Even veteran crime writer Ann Rule has lost her "mojo" after decades of dominating this genre. In this book you get good writing, research and narration - the must-have "triple crown" in audiobooks. Well worth the price of admission.
After recently reviewing Fever by Mary Beth Keane, I knew I had to go back to my library and pull this one out as well. If I'd written this review first, though, I would have only given Fever 4 stars because, if I'm grading on a curve, The Murder of the Century gets the definite edge.
Not because Fever is any less well-researched and written, or any less well-narrated, but because Collins just had so much more to work with here in terms of a story.
That being said, if you're trying to decide about this book, I would say you should probably consider it to be-- first and foremost--an historical account, with the deliciously gruesome murder mystery (in all its tabloid splendor) being more of a bonus than the main draw.
In other words, if you read a lot of non-fiction and history, but mysteries (especially police/detective procedurals) are your guilty fiction pleasure, you need to stop reading and start downloading this sucker right now, because, trust me-- this is right up your alley.
Or if you have any connection to, and/or love for old-school newspaper journalism, you'll want to strongly consider this as well, not only because the paper wars play such a strong role in the story, but also because it was the scrappy investigative reporters--rather than the already bureaucracy-bloated NYPD--who ultimately solved the crime.
And for those of you who are too young to have even studied the history of New York's newspapers, it's hard not to appreciate the parallels between the old paper wars and today's digital wars...(think Nick Denton v. Arianna Huffington).
On the other hand, if you love mysteries and true crime but don't have the patience for arcane details and long digressions (as in, Can you please stop talking about Hearst and Pulitzer and get back to the plot already?), you might want to read through the one- and two- star reviews before you put this in your cart, because there definitely IS a lot of background woven into the storyline. (It may be billed as a page-turning mystery, but it's really much more than that, so if you're looking for a plot-driven thriller to keep you awake on that 10-hour overnight drive--this is probably not it!)
But--for me at least--this book has it all: a CSI (Scrappy Reporter's Unit) --worthy plot, boldfaced names, and 19th century New York City. Not to mention a cold-hearted femme fatale and the men who loved her--or at least pretended to. (TEASER!!)
And I have to say William Dufris's narration is pitch-perfect--with just enough of that old-timey trans-continental inflection to make if feel authentic, but never hokey or over-the-top. His diction and pitch was distinctive enough for each character to be able to tell them apart in dialogue without being distracting, and, as far as I can recall, there was no annoying/ amateurish falsetto for the female characters. With what appears over 300 titles under his belt, I think it's safe to say this dude's a pro.
(I always feel a little bad when I mention the narrator as an afterthought, but it's actually the highest praise, since the best narrators are the ones who are able to become so infused into the story that you virtually forget they're a separate element.)
In any case, if you liked Fever, you'll probably like this too--and visa-versa.
This is really not about "The Murder of the Century" - it's really about the tabloid newspapers in New York City at the end of the 19th century. Pulitzer and Hearst owned warring papers, both using sensationalism and "yellow journalism" to try and increase their readership and outdo their rivals. Headlines were bold, scandal was encouraged, and Hearst even created a "murder squad" of reporters with badges and guns to search for evidence before the police could find it, and make "citizen's arrests" if need be to protect The Journal's scoop. From colour to faster presses, it was a time of changes in newspaper publishing, and the murder of a masseur was just some of the fuel that stoked the fire of tabloid journalism competition. Sure, there was a murder, a dismemberment of the corpse. a missing head, and a scandal in the city, but that's all secondary to the real focus of the book.
It was an interesting book, but not terribly compelling or succinct. Narration was just OK.
Love books, listen to 3-4 books a week, thriller and true crimes favorite.
one of my first true crime books, was very pleased with this. Well written, not over done in any one area.
I'm open to any book as long as it is true to itself.
The crime itself was interesting as was the inter-play between the press at the time. Otherwise this was overly long and would have benefitted from more research to bolster the facts presented.