Annal: 2004 Edgar Allan Poe Award® for Best Fact Crime

Results of the Edgar Allan Poe Award® in the year 2004.

Book:The Devil in the White City

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America

Erik Larson

Two men, each handsome and unusually adept at his chosen work, embodied an element of the great dynamic that characterized America’s rush toward the twentieth century. The architect was Daniel Hudson Burnham, the fair’s brilliant director of works and the builder of many of the country’s most important structures, including the Flatiron Building in New York and Union Station in Washington, D.C. The murderer was Henry H. Holmes, a young doctor who, in a malign parody of the White City, built his “World’s Fair Hotel” just west of the fairgrounds—a torture palace complete with dissection table, gas chamber, and 3,000-degree crematorium. Burnham overcame tremendous obstacles and tragedies as he organized the talents of Frederick Law Olmsted, Charles McKim, Louis Sullivan, and others to transform swampy Jackson Park into the White City, while Holmes used the attraction of the great fair and his own satanic charms to lure scores of young women to their deaths. What makes the story all the more chilling is…[more]

Book:And the Dead Shall Rise

And the Dead Shall Rise: The Murder of Mary Phagan and the Lynching of Leo Frank

Steve Oney

On April 27, 1913, the bludgeoned body of thirteen-year-old Mary Phagan was discovered in the basement of Atlanta’s National Pencil Factory. The girl’s murder would be the catalyst for an epic saga that to this day holds a singular place in America’s collective imagination—a saga that would climax in 1915 with the lynching of Leo Frank, the Cornell-educated Jew who was convicted of the murder. The case has been the subject of novels, plays, movies and even musicals, but only now, with the publication of And the Dead Shall Rise, do we have an account that does full justice to the mesmerizing and previously unknown details of one of the most shameful moments in the nation’s history.

In a narrative reminiscent of a nineteenth-century novel, Steve Oney recounts the emerging revelations of the initial criminal investigation, reconstructs from newspaper dispatches (the original trial transcript mysteriously disappeared long ago) the…[more]

Book:Black Dahlia Avenger: The True Story

Black Dahlia Avenger: The True Story

Steve Hodel

More than fifty years after what has been called “the most notorious unsolved murder of the 20th century,” the case has finally been solved.

On January 15, 1947, the body of beautiful 22-year-old Elizabeth Short—dubbed the Black Dahlia because of her black clothing and the dahlia she wore in her hair—was discovered on a vacant lot in downtown Los Angeles, her body surgically bisected, horribly mutilated, and posed as if for display. Even the most hardened homicide detectives were shocked and sickened by the sadistic murder. Thus began the largest manhunt in LA history. For weeks the killer taunted the police—and public—much as his infamous English counterpart Jack the Ripper had done in London 60 years before, sending tantalizing notes, urging them to “catch me if you can.” And for weeks and months the LAPD came up empty. Charges of police ineptitude soon gave way to rumors of corruption and cover-up at the highest levels. Meanwhile, a rash of lone women in LA were brutally murdered, and their cases also remained mysteriously unsolved. Could the Black Dahlia Avenger be, in fact, a serial killer stalking the city streets?

Book:Judgment Ridge

Judgment Ridge: The True Story Behind the Dartmouth Murders

Dick Lehr, Mitchell Zuckoff

On a cold night in January 2001, the idyllic community of Dartmouth College was shattered by the discovery that two professors had been hacked to death in their own home. Investigators searched helplessly for clues linking the victims, Half and Susanne Zantop, to their murderer or murderers. The residents of Hanover, New Hampshire, speculated endlessly—could the killer be a disgruntled student? a spurned lover?—while the grisly nature of the crimes themselves destroyed, perhaps forever, the sanctity and invulnerability of their academic arcadia.

By contrast, the hardscrabble community of nearby Chelsea, Vermont, was relatively unaffected. The big news in Chelsea came when the school’s basketball star scored his 1,000th point on a Friday, three weeks after the murders. As parents and teenagers streamed into the night to celebrate after the game, a stunning scene stopped them in their tracks. Outside the house of high…[more]

Book:Rothstein

Rothstein: The Life, Times, and Murder of the Criminal Genius Who Fixed the 1919 World Series

David Pietrusza

History remembers Arnold Rothstein as the man who fixed the 1919 World Series, an underworld genius. The real-life model for The Great Gatsby’s Meyer Wolfsheim and Nathan Detroit from Guys and Dolls, Rothstein was much more—and less—than a fixer of baseball games. He was everything that made 1920s Manhattan roar. Featuring Jazz Age Broadway with its thugs, speakeasies, showgirls, political movers and shakers, and stars of the Golden Age of Sports, this is a biography of the man who dominated an age. Arnold Rothstein was a loan shark, pool shark, bookmaker, thief, fence of stolen property, political fixer, Wall Street swindler, labor racketeer, rumrunner, and mastermind of the modern drug trade. Among his monikers were “The Big Bankroll,” “The Brain,” and “The Man Uptown.” This vivid account of Rothstein’s life is also the story of con artists, crooked cops, politicians, gang lords, newsmen, speakeasy owners, gamblers and the like. Finally unraveling the mystery of Rothstein’s November 1928 murder in a Times Square hotel room, David Pietrusza has cemented The Big Bankroll’s place among the most influential and fascinating legendary American criminals. 16 pages of black-and-white photographs are featured.

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