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Publisher's Summary

A tantalizing drama pulled from New York’s gritty past, Takers Mad guides listeners down a shadowy path to explore a true crime that haunted the Gilded Age.

As newspapers reported in the 1890s, a woman dubbed "Shakespeare" was found dead in a seedy hotel along the waterfront by Manhattan’s South Street Seaport. The chilling scene recalled for press and police alike Jack the Ripper’s victims in London. Panicked New Yorkers worked feverishly to halt that maniac’s spree from expanding across the Atlantic. The city only sighed relief after detectives abruptly arrested a traveling Algerian ex-soldier for the crime. 

In this reimagining, our narrator Flora - an aspiring pulp writer who grew up worlds away from Manhattan - arrives at the story over a decade later, after her dreams of a perfect wedding are dashed. It turns out Jacob Riis, the disapproving father of Flora’s new groom, and America’s most famous muckraker, played an unexpected role in this mystery earlier in his career. 

As Flora digs into the case, more questions about what really happened in the hotel on that monstrous night begin to reveal themselves. Did the police scapegoat the man arrested for the crime? What about the blood that detectives found? Or did authorities actually let Jack the Ripper walk free? Flora hopes if she unlocks these puzzles, it might win over her father-in-law, plus grant the entrance to New York publishing she craves.

Based on historical research and fresh findings in a real-life case that dominated headlines before the turn of the century, Takers Mad is a ruminative, atmospheric, and sometimes morbidly funny work of literary suspense that follows one of the most memorable heroines in recent crime fiction as she stalks Gotham, confronts corruption, and delves into who really murdered "Shakespeare". 

©2021 Luke Jerrod Kummer (P)2021 Audible Originals, LLC.

About the Creator

Luke Jerod Kummer’s nonfiction has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, New Republic, The Washingtonian, New York Magazine, Bloomberg Businessweek, The Village Voice, and other publications. His novel, The Blue Period imagines the tragic events that led a young Pablo Picasso to paint somber portraits in nocturnal shades, before Cubism turned the artist into a celebrity. Booklist called the debut "lush biographical fiction," and the story was featured in American Way, Literary Hub, The Millions, and Full Stop magazine. Takers Mad, Kummer’s Audible Original, picks up the twisting trail of a real-life murder that transfixed New York during the Gilded Age.

About the Performer

Khristine Hvam is an award-winning audiobook narrator, producer, and director. Some of her works include TV/radio commercials, video games, animated series, and most notably, more than 300 audiobook titles. Hvam has been honored with four Audio Publishers Association Audie Awards. AudioFile Magazine has awarded her seven of its Earphones Awards, as well as Best Voices of the Year 2015 and 2017. She currently lives in New Jersey with her husband and two children.

What listeners say about Takers Mad

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Vivid Storytelling

The author presents and shares an interesting, compelling, and intriguing story.

I was drawn to this book because of the vivid storytelling and scenery, combined with a unique writing style. It is a captivating read, and I’d happily spend a credit on his other books.

9 people found this helpful

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Listen to TAKERS MAD! ! ! An adventurous journey of intrigue!

Colorful description of character and place, artful story, narrative and narration (with a southern flair) draw the listener in, from coast to coast, uncovering secrets, revealing truths, and following clues on an adventure of intrigue ! Journey into the mystery !

7 people found this helpful

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Compelling and Addictive Romp

A compelling and addictive mystery which is all the more a romp through the party of a narrator that is our guide through it (wonderfully voiced - the words and the voice really carry you along). The contrast of this voice, an analogy for thr voice of American myth making, with the horrors of the modern world is a great dance throughout of different times, places, genres as well as... darkness. Hard to turn off!

6 people found this helpful

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I really did not enjoy this book

I wonder why so many male writers try to write from the viewpoint of a woman. Some can successfully accomplish it, others just make the woman unlikeable. I did not like the protagonist in the beginning, middle or the end. The premise of the book was strange, the marriage to her husband was strange, her purpose throughout the book was undefined and ridiculous, and her attitude toward all the people she met was very off putting although they all put up with her and answered her questions. I wonder why? In real life, I don't see this happening. Supposedly, she wanted to be a writer and she said she could speak properly, but she just didn't want to so she spoke as someone rude and uneducated . Listening to the poor grammar throughout was annoying and I would expect that her writing if she every did any, would be just as shabby. I listened to the whole book because I wanted to give it a chance, turns out, in the end, the whole book was a scheme to accuse the reader and apparently, all Americans, of being Xenophobic. I don't like writing a bad review, and usually would not do it, but I was mad at myself for dragging through the entire book and giving the author the benefit of the doubt hoping it would get better....... in the end only to be insulted.

4 people found this helpful

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Excellent!

An aspiring writer named Flora takes the listener on a journey investigating a brutal murder from 1891. The descriptions of the era and locations in New York City and New Jersey were detailed and fascinating. Did not see the ending coming. Fun to listen to and highly recommend!

2 people found this helpful

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Gripping historic whodunnit

Loved hearing this story through the cowgirl-inflected voice of Flora, who brings her sense of fun and taste for good whiskey to a kaleidoscope of characters from Gilded Age and early 20th Century New York.

2 people found this helpful

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Thrilling historical true crime!

Takers Mad is a thriller, a murder mystery, a mad cap adventure chock full of details of New York's dark beginnings, and a tale of a southern fish out of water striving to beat her way to the top in a man's world.

Meticulously researched, details are injected at break neck speed and balanced by humor and surprise. Among all this, Kummer pulls off an admirable feat in constructing a gripping narrative that recounts a historically flawed investigation. The cracks and fissures discovered in the case shed light on the challenges faced by law enforcement then and now.

Social realism, absurd wisecracks, and hilarious dialogue work their way into an otherwise noir narrative that Hvam does monopologue summersaults to deliver. Bravo!

A recommended escape for true crime and period piece fans alike!

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Another Great Read by LJK

Loved it! I wanted a good mystery book and this definitely scratched that itch! I found myself wanting to read more about New York's history throughout the book.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Carnegie F. Hall
  • 09-03-21

A rich, detailed account

A colorful, gripping narrative about a long forgotten, unsolved mystery that feels so relevant today.