Synopses & Reviews
Chicago, 1924. There was nothing surprising about men turning up dead in the Second City. Life was cheaper than a quart of illicit gin in the gangland capital of the world. But two murders that spring were special—worthy of celebration. So believed Maurine Watkins, a wanna-be playwright and a "girl reporter" for the Chicago Tribune
, the city's "hanging paper." Newspaperwomen were supposed to write about clubs, cooking, and clothes, but the intrepid Miss Watkins, a minister's daughter from a small town, zeroed in on murderers instead. Looking for subjects to turn into a play, she would make "Stylish Belva" Gaertner and "Beautiful Beulah" Annan—both of whom had brazenly shot down their lovers—the talk of the town. Love-struck men sent flowers to the jail, and newly emancipated women sent impassioned letters to the newspapers. Soon more than a dozen women preened and strutted on "Murderesses' Row" as they awaited trial, desperate for the same attention that was being lavished on Maurine Watkins's favorites.
In the tradition of Erik Larson's The Devil in the White City and Karen Abbott's Sin in the Second City, Douglas Perry vividly captures Jazz Age Chicago and the sensationalized circus atmosphere that gave rise to the concept of the celebrity criminal. Fueled by rich period detail and enlivened by a cast of characters who seemed destined for the stage, The Girls of Murder City is crackling social history that simultaneously presents the freewheeling spirit of the age and its sober repercussions.
"A series of murders committed by women in Chicago in the 1920s provide juicy material for drama in this racy history, as well as the musical. Perry paints a vividly detailed picture of the events with a range of viewpoints, from interviews with the murderers to police reports. Peter Berkrot has a deep and projecting voice that's easy to follow and enjoy. He handles the straightforward narrative smoothly, using pause and emphasis to highlight more important passages. If his female voices require more work, he excels at quoting newspapers and other firsthand accounts, cleverly mimicking their sensationalized, breathless tone. A Viking hardcover (Reviews, Apr. 12). (Aug.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"[Perry's] savvy, flamboyant social history illuminates a dawning age of celebrity culture." ---Publishers Weekly
"Berkrot's reading is fundamentally clear, well paced, and sensitive to the text." ---AudioFile
The true story of the murderesses who became media sensations and inspired the musical Chicago.
About the Author
Douglas Perry is coauthor, with Jeff Guinn, of The Sixteenth Minute: Life in the Aftermath of Fame. An award-winning writer and editor, his work has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, the San Jose Mercury News, the Oregonian, Details, and many other publications. He lives in Portland, Oregon. A veteran of stage and screen, Peter Berkrot's career spans four decades. Highlights include feature roles in Caddyshack and Showtime's Brotherhood, and appearances on America's Most Wanted and Unsolved Mysteries. His voice can be heard on television, radio, video games, documentaries and industrials. He is a prominent acting coach and a regular contributor to the award-winning news program Frontline produced by WGBH in Boston. Peter served as director of narration for the Emmy-nominated The Truth About Cancer. Peter has recorded a number of audiobooks, including three by Peter Hessler: Country Driving, Oracle Bones, and River Town. Other favorite titles include The Woods by Harlan Coben, English, August by Upamanyu Chatterjee, The Fifth Vial by Michael Palmer, American Brutus by Michael W. Kauffmann, Better by Atul Gawande, and Some Sort of Epic Grandeur by Matthew J. Bruccoli.