Paul Collins tells the story of the brutal, bloody murder of William Guldensuppe committed by his girlfriend and her lover. Narrator William Dufris gives a delightfully varied and nuanced performance. The book features the voices of a diverse cast of late-19th century New York characters, from Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst to a duck farmer in Woodside to employees of the Murray Hill bathhouse. Together, the characters tell the story of a gruesome crime that fueled a sensationalistic media juggernaut from the moment a group of young boys found a man's mutilated torso floating in the East River in New York City on a summer day in 1897. In Dufris' inventive performance, he expertly adopts the voice of the chillingly blasé murderers; then turns on a dime to describe, in a voice filled with wonder, the new forensic science that went into identifying the body. Dufris engages the listener by sounding as fascinated by the story as the author himself is.
It is vital that Dufris get the performances just right, since Collins has distinguished his book from other histories of the crime by telling the story of the investigation and trial largely through the voices of the people who were actually there. Collins carefully reconstructs their quotes into an intensely detailed narrative, and Dufris individualizes the voice of each witness, including the murder defendants themselves. Especially effective is his portrayal of one of the main defense attorneys in the story, William Howe, whom Dufris imbues with a bold, brash voice that enlivens the "Big Bill" persona that Collins describes. But Dufris is just as adept at capturing the macabre character of the women who, obsessed with the case, filled the sweltering courtroom gallery day after day to show their support for the dashing murder defendant, Martin Thorn. Maggie Frank
In Long Island, a farmer found a duck pond turned red with blood. On the Lower East Side, two boys playing at a pier discovered a floating human torso wrapped tightly in oilcloth. Blueberry pickers near Harlem stumbled upon neatly severed limbs in an overgrown ditch. Clues to a horrifying crime were turning up all over New York, but the police were baffled: There were no witnesses, no motives, no suspects.
The grisly finds that began on the afternoon of June 26, 1897, plunged detectives headlong into the era's most perplexing murder. Seized upon by battling media moguls Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst, the case became a publicity circus. Re-creations of the murder were staged in Times Square, armed reporters lurked in the streets of Hell's Kitchen in pursuit of suspects, and an unlikely trio - an anxious cop, a cub reporter, and an eccentric professor - all raced to solve the crime. What emerged was a sensational love triangle and an even more sensational trial: an unprecedented capital case hinging on circumstantial evidence around a victim that the police couldn't identify with certainty - and that the defense claimed wasn't even dead.
The Murder of the Century is a rollicking tale - a rich evocation of America during the Gilded Age and a colorful re-creation of the tabloid wars that have dominated media to this day.
©2011 Paul Collins (P)2011 AudioGo
“Wonderfully rich in period detail, salacious facts about the case and infectious wonder at the chutzpah and inventiveness displayed by Pulitzer’s and Hearst’s minions. Both a gripping true-crime narrative and an astonishing portrait of fin de siecle yellow journalism.” (Kirkus Reviews)
"A dismembered corpse and rival newspapers squabbling for headlines fuel Collins’s intriguing look at the birth of 'yellow journalism' in late 19th-century New York. [A]n in-depth account of the exponential growth of lurid news and the public’s (continuing) insatiable appetite for it." (Publishers Weekly)
I'd have to check out the reviews before buying. Just because this story didn't make my "like" list doesn't mean all of Paul Collins books are the same.
I wish I'd have read more of the reviews, I only read the one and that one was quite positive. Definately learned my lesson. Audible did allow me to return it.
Story: I really enjoyed this tidbit of media history. Growing up in an era that idolizes reality tv stars, looks to perez hilton as a sooth sayer, instant everything via the internet, and gives more credit to people who are interested in being famous than being interesting/talented/smart....etc... its a phenomenon i consider very new, and part of the identity of this generation. murder of the century makes a point to do away with that notion. that the frustrations i have with the media now, have been there for over a century. some of the most interesting and vivid moments were in the conflict between hearst and pulitzer, as well as the moments of "normal" life.
Narrator: i'm not desperate to hear Dufris' voice again, it's not stuck in my head the way other narrators have been. but the pace moved smoothly enough and i didn't get that annoying "girl" or "child" voice that some narrators are prone to use. however i do feel that it could have been more dynamic.
In the top 5
A twist in the plot happened everytime I thought the plot was about to deadend.
His use of accents to bring alive the dialogue
I was shocked a couple of times, but I don't want to spoil the plot and tell you about it.
It has been one of my favorite audio listens this year. I couldn't stop listening.
Interesting, informative, funny.
Hearst was my favorite character. He was creative and driven.
This audiobook was like watching a good movie.
Fasinating story and characters; amazing how well they did with investigations with very little tools in the day.
A depressing story read like the narrator was one of the newspaper reporters chasing every juicy detail. Read with relish for the lowest common denominator.
Hard to follow - lots of street names and boroughs, many people and some with nicknames or aliases. Not easy without the text.
The story of this terrible murder might have been gripping if the narrator had taken a serious attitude to it, but he seems to enjoy the horror as much as the thrill-happy public of the day.
Not a book I'd listen to again and I hate spending money on one shot deals.
Associate Professor at 4 yr. university in educational history and educational administration. Love reading historical books of all genres!
Starts of strong, but the writing is simplistic, even repetitive. Labored descriptions and it seems to drag on chapter by chapter. I never did care to find out 'who dunnit'. It stopped holding my attention after the fifth chapter.
Evening and Weekend Manager Lone Star College-Greenspoint Center Houston, TX 77060
I usually enjoy the historical books that I read/listen to, but The Murder of the Century was an exception. The author filled it with so many pointless details that the reader/listener could not help but feel it would take a century just to finish it. Contributing to its tooth drilling tedium was the fact that the author claimed that the book was written to describe the yellow journalism wars of the Gilded Age, when in reality the book focused on one sorted murder and the sorted characters that were involved in it. If you need something to help you suffer for a sin you have committed, I recommend forcing yourself to read or listen to this study in crime and punishment. Your penitence will be paid in full as you reach the last page.
I am a clay sculptor and an art instructor at a community college. I mostly listen to audiobooks while I work in my home studio.
I bought this because it was the daily deal. Stupid.
I read the reviews and thought it sounded interesting. The other reviews suggested the focus was on the newspapers and not the trial. I don't think focus is a fair term for this book. Sometimes we were told about the newspapers, sometimes we were told about the trial, sometimes we were told about the events surrounding the discovery of the murder, but I never felt like there was any story here. Everything in the book sounded disjointed and random.
I never did "get into" this book, though I just about finished it. In theory I would enjoy the story. I would seriously be interested in hearing about newspaper rivalry, but apparently I didn't care about the little bits of newspaper history tacked on to the edges of a series of bits of information and misinformation about the trial.
And don't get me started on the narrator. Where did he come up with these accents? so annoying. ugh.
If you like to read about gore and unpleasantness, and if you like to be overwhelmed with all the misleading information that was available at the time, in chronological order instead of sorted in any way by the truth, then maybe you will like this book.
But probably not.
Spoke in monotone the whole story. He didn't differentiate any characters. It was hard to follow at first and I almost didn't make it through. Took me along time to listen to. The story was interesting so I wanted to know how it turned out. The author made an interesting story incredibly boring and tedious.
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