Summary

""Things began as they usually did: Someone shot someone else." So begins a chapter of Michael Lesy's account of Chicago in the 1920s, the epicenter of murder in America. A city where daily newspapers fell over one another to cover the latest mayhem. A city where professionals and amateurs alike snuffed each other out, and often for the most banal of reasons. Men killing men, men killing women, women killing men - crimes of loot and love." "Among the many ordinary and not-so-ordinary murderers we meet is Harvey Church, a young fellow who killed two men for the sake of a Packard Twin-six. Young Harvey persuaded a Packard salesman and a mechanic to deliver the big, new car to his mother's house. Harvey killed both men, left their bodies in the basement, then went out for a spin in "his" new car with his mother and her lady friends." "We get to know Belva Gaertner and Beulah Annan. Both women shot their lovers. Belva shot her boyfriend in the head. Beulah shot hers in the back. Both claimed self-defense. Both beat their raps. Their real stories are more unsettling than the fairy tales they became in the wildly successful Broadway musical Chicago." "And then there's Hymie Weiss, otherwise known as "the perfume bandit." Hymie made any number of mistakes. One was to torture and shoot Al Capone's driver. Another was to walk into an expertly planned machine-gun ambush while crossing the street to a flower shop."--BOOK JACKET.


Michael Lesy's portrait of a gruesome era could be fiction -- but it's not.

"Things began as they usually did: Someone shot someone else." So begins a chapter of Michael Lesy's disturbingly satisfying account of Chicago in the 1920s, the epicenter of murder in America. A city where daily newspapers fell over each other to cover the latest mayhem. A city where professionals and amateurs alike snuffed one another out, and often for the most banal of reasons, such as wanting a Packard twin-six. Men killing men, men killing women, women killing men -- crimes of loot and love. Just as Lesy's first book, Wisconsin Death Trip, subverted the accepted notion of the Gay Nineties, so Murder City gives us the dark side of the Jazz Age. Lesy's sharp, fearless storytelling makes a compelling case that this collection of criminals may be the progenitors of our modern age.