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Crime of the Century

Readers' Cafe

The Beautiful Cigar Girl Mary Rogers, Edgar Allan Poe, and the Invention of Murder
Destiny of the Republic A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President
The Devil in the White City Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America
Devil's Rooming House The True Story Of America's Deadliest Female Serial Killer
I Am Murdered George Wythe, Thomas Jefferson, and the Killing That Shocked a New Nation
The Great Pearl Heist London's Greatest Thief and Scotland Yard's Hunt for the World's Most Valuable Necklace
The Invention of Murder How the Victorians Revelled in Death and Detection and Created Modern Crime
The Killer of Little Shepherds A True Crime Story and the Birth of Forensic Science
Manhunt The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer
Murder in the First-Class Carriage The First Victorian Railway Killing
The Murder of the Century The Gilded Age Crime That Scandalized a City & Sparked the Tabloid Wars
Satan's Circus Murder, Vice, Police Corruption, and New York's Trial of the Century
The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective
The Thieves of Threadneedle Street The Incredible True Story of the American Forgers Who Nearly Broke the Bank of England
Thunderstruck
The Midnight Assassin Panic, Scandal, and the Hunt for America's First Serial Killer
The Beautiful Cigar Girl: Mary Rogers, Edgar Allan Poe, and the Invention of Murder / Daniel Stashower

On July 28, 1841, the battered body of a young woman was found floating in the Hudson River. It was soon discovered to be the lovely Mary Rogers, a twenty-year-old cigar salesgirl who had gone missing three days earlier. By nightfall, news of the girl's death had spread and sent Manhattan into a spasm of horror and outrage.

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In the months that followed, the gruesome details of the murder pushed American journalism into previously unimagined realms of lurid sensationalism. But despite media pressures, New York City's unregulated and disjointed police force proved unable to mount an effective investigation, and the crime remained unsolved.

A year after Mary Rogers was murdered, as public interest in the case began to wane, a struggling writer named Edgar Allan Poe decided to take on the case. At the time of the murder, thirty-one-year-old Poe had recently published his groundbreaking detective story "The Murders in the Rue Morgue." A year later, however, his fortunes had taken a downward turn. Desperate for success, Poe sent his famous detective, C. Auguste Dupin, on the case of a lifetime: to solve the baffling murder of Mary Rogers in "The Mystery of Marie Rog??t."

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Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President / Candice Millard

James A. Garfield was one of the most extraordinary men ever elected president. Born into abject poverty, he rose to become a wunderkind scholar, a Civil War hero, and a renowned and admired reformist congressman. Nominated for president against his will, he engaged in a fierce battle with the corrupt political establishment. But four months after his inauguration, a deranged office seeker tracked Garfield down and shot him in the back.

But the shot didn't kill Garfield. The drama of what hap??pened subsequently is a powerful story of a nation in tur??moil. The unhinged assassin's half-delivered strike shattered the fragile national mood of a country so recently fractured by civil war, and left the wounded president as the object of a bitter behind-the-scenes struggle for power - over his administration, over the nation's future, and, hauntingly, over his medical care.?

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

"Since reading this book I have recommended it to everyone... The lure of the serial killer drew me in but what kept me interested were the glimpses of our nation's past during a time that I knew very little about. ... Anyone with even the slightest interest in our history would enjoy this book. " -- Kristen Eckerty, Books-A-Million, Naples, FL The story of two men's obsessions with the Chicago World's Fair, one its architect, the other a murderer. THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY draws the reader into a time of magic and majesty, made all the more appealing by a supporting cast of real-life characters, including Buffalo Bill, Theodore Dreiser, Susan B. Anthony, Thomas Edison, Archduke Francis Ferdinand, and others.

Devil's Rooming House: The True Story Of America's Deadliest Female Serial Killer / M. William Phelps

A silent, simmering killer terrorized New England in1911. As a terrible heat wave killed more than 2,000 people, another silent killer began her own murderous spree. That year a reporter for the Hartford Courant noticed a sharp rise in the number of obituaries for residents of a rooming house in Windsor, Connecticut, and began to suspect who was responsible: Amy Archer-Gilligan, who?d opened the Archer Home for Elderly People and Chronic Invalids four years earlier. ?Sister Amy? would be accused of murdering both of her husbands and up to sixty-six of her patients with cocktails of lemonade and arsenic; her story inspired the Broadway hit Arsenic and Old Lace.

I Am Murdered: George Wythe, Thomas Jefferson, and the Killing That Shocked a New Nation / Bruce Chadwick

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I Am Murdered tells the bizarre true story of George Wythe's death and the subsequent trial of his grandnephew and namesake, George Wythe Sweeney, for the crime - unquestionably the most sensational and talked-about court case of the era. Hinging on hit-and-miss forensics, the unreliability of medical autopsies, the prevalence of poisoning, race relations, slavery, and the law, Sweeney's trial serves as a window into early nineteenth- century America. Its particular focus is on Richmond, part elegant state capital and part chaotic boomtown riddled with vice, opportunism, and crime.

The Great Pearl Heist: London's Greatest Thief and Scotland Yard's Hunt for the World's Most Valuable Necklace / Molly Caldwell Crosby

In the summer of 1913, under the cover of London's perpetual smoggy dusk, two brilliant minds are pitted against each other - a celebrated gentleman thief and a talented Scotland Yard detective - in the greatest jewel heist of the new century. In the spirit of The Great Train Robbery and the tales of Sherlock Holmes, this is the true story of a psychological cat and mouse game set against the backdrop of London's golden Edwardian era. Thoroughly researched, compellingly colorful, The Great Pearl Heist is a gripping narrative account of a little-known, yet extraordinary crime.

The Invention of Murder: How the Victorians Revelled in Death and Detection and Created Modern Crime / Judith Flanders

In this meticulously researched and engrossing book, Judith Flanders retells the gruesome stories of many different types of murder in Great Britain, both famous and obscure: from Greenacre, who transported his dismembered fianc??e around town by omnibus, to Burke and Hare's bodysnatching business in Edinburgh; from the crimes (and myths) of Sweeney Todd and Jack the Ripper, to the tragedy of the murdered Marr family in London's East End. Through these stories of murder-from the brutal to the pathetic-Flanders builds a rich and multi-faceted portrait of Victorian society in Great Britain. With an irresistible cast of swindlers, forgers, and poisoners, the mad, the bad and the utterly dangerous, The Invention of Murder is both a mesmerizing tale of crime and punishment, and history at its most readable.

The Killer of Little Shepherds: A True Crime Story and the Birth of Forensic Science / Douglas Starr

At the end of the nineteenth century, serial murderer Joseph Vacher, known and feared as "The Killer of Little Shepherds," terrorized the French countryside. He eluded authorities for years - until he ran up against prosecutor Emile Fourquet and Dr. Alexandre Lacassagne, the era's most renowned criminologist. The two men - intelligent and bold - typified the Belle ??poque, a period of immense scientific achievement and fascination with science's promise to reveal the secrets of the human condition.

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Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer / James L Swanson

The murder of Abraham Lincoln set off the greatest manhunt in American history. From April 14 to April 26, 1865, the assassin, John Wilkes Booth, led Union cavalry and detectives on a wild twelve-day chase through the streets of Washington, D.C., across the swamps of Maryland, and into the forests of Virginia, while the nation, still reeling from the just-ended Civil War, watched in horror and sadness.

James L. Swanson's Manhunt is a fascinating tale of murder, intrigue, and betrayal. A gripping hour-by-hour account told through the eyes of the hunted and the hunters, this is history as you've never read it before.

Murder in the First-Class Carriage: The First Victorian Railway Killing / Kate Colquhoun

In July 1864, Thomas Briggs was traveling home after visiting his niece and her husband for dinner.

He boarded a first-class carriage on the 9:45 pm Hackney service of the North London railway. At Hackney, two bank clerks discovered blood in the seat cushions as well as on the floor, windows, and sides of the carriage. A bloodstained hat was found on the seat along with a broken link from a watch chain. The race to identify the killer and catch him as he fled on a boat to America was eagerly followed by the public on both sides of the Atlantic. Kate Colquhoun tells a gripping tale of a crime that shocked the era.

The Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age Crime That Scandalized a City & Sparked the Tabloid Wars / Paul Collins

On Long Island, a farmer finds a duck pond turned red with blood. On the Lower East Side, two boys playing at a pier discover a floating human torso wrapped tightly in oilcloth. Blueberry pickers near Harlem stumble upon neatly severed limbs in an overgrown ditch. Clues to a horrifying crime are turning up all over New York, but the police are baffled: There are 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 baffling murder mystery. Seized upon by battling media moguls Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst, the case became a publicity circus. Reenactments 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 - a hard-luck cop, a cub reporter, and an eccentric professor - all raced to solve the crime.

Satan's Circus: Murder, Vice, Police Corruption, and New York's Trial of the Century / Mike Dash

They called it Satan's Circus - a square mile of Midtown Manhattan where vice ruled, sin flourished, and depravity danced in every doorway. At the turn of the twentieth century, it was a place where everyone from the chorus girls to the beat cops was on the take and where bad boys became wicked men; a place where an upstanding young policeman such as Charley Becker could become the crookedest cop who ever stood behind a shield.

Murder was so common in the vice district that few people were surprised when the loudmouthed owner of a shabby casino was gunned down on the steps of its best hotel. But when, two weeks later, an ambitious district attorney charged Becker with ordering the murder, even the denizens of Satan's Circus were surprised. The handsome lieutenant was a decorated hero, the renowned leader of New York's vice-busting Special Squad. Was he a bad cop leading a double life, or a pawn felled by the sinister rogues who ran Manhattan's underworld?

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective / Kate Summerscale

In June of 1860 three-year-old Saville Kent was found at the bottom of an outdoor privy with his throat slit. The crime horrified all England and led to a national obsession with detection, ironically destroying, in the process, the career of perhaps the greatest detective in the land.

At the time, the detective was a relatively new invention; there were only eight detectives in all of England and rarely were they called out of London, but this crime was so shocking, as Kate Summerscale relates in her scintillating new book, that Scotland Yard sent its best man to investigate, Inspector Jonathan Whicher.

Whicher quickly believed the unbelievable -- that someone within the family was responsible for the murder of young Saville Kent. Without sufficient evidence or a confession, though, his case was circumstantial and he returned to London a broken man.?

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher is a provocative work of nonfiction that reads like a Victorian thriller, and in it Kate Summerscale has fashioned a brilliant, multilayered narrative that is as cleverly constructed as it is beautifully written.

The Thieves of Threadneedle Street: The Incredible True Story of the American Forgers Who Nearly Broke the Bank of England / Nicholas Booth

In the summer of 1873, four American forgers went on trial at the Old Bailey -- London's iconic law court -- for the greatest fraud the world had ever seen. The attempted crime: stealing five million dollars from the Bank of England from under the noses of its unsuspecting officials. In The Thieves of Threadneedle Street, Nicholas Booth tells the extraordinary true story of the forgers' earliest escapades in Chicago, Louisville, and Manhattan, culminating with the heist at the world's leading financial institution, the Bank of England. At the heart of the story is the charming criminal genius Austin Bidwell who, on the brink of escaping with his fortune, saw his luck finally run out.

Thunderstruck / Erik Larson

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Devil in the White City, a true story of love, murder, and the end of the world's "great hush"

In Thunderstruck, Erik Larson tells the interwoven stories of two men - Hawley Crippen, a very unlikely murderer, and Guglielmo Marconi, the obsessive creator of a seemingly supernatural means of communication - whose lives intersect during one of the greatest criminal chases of all time.

Set in Edwardian London and on the stormy coasts of Cornwall, Cape Cod, and Nova Scotia, Thunderstruck evokes the dynamism of those years when great shipping companies competed to build the biggest, fastest ocean liners; scientific advances dazzled the public with visions of a world transformed; and the rich outdid one another with ostentatious displays of wealth. Against this background, Marconi races against incredible odds and relentless skepticism to perfect his invention: the wireless, a prime catalyst for the emergence of the world we know today. Meanwhile, Crippen, "the kindest of men," nearly commits the perfect murder.

With his unparalleled narrative skills, Erik Larson guides us through a relentlessly suspenseful chase over the waters of the North Atlantic. Along the way, he tells of a sad and tragic love affair that was described on the front pages of newspapers around the world, a chief inspector who found himself strangely sympathetic to the killer and his lover, and a driven and compelling inventor who transformed the way we communicate.

The Midnight Assassin: Panic, Scandal, and the Hunt for America's First Serial Killer / Skip Hollandsworth

A sweeping narrative history of a terrifying serial killer--America's first--who stalked Austin, Texas in 1885

In the late 1800s, the city of Austin, Texas was on the cusp of emerging from an isolated western outpost into a truly cosmopolitan metropolis. But beginning in December 1884, Austin was terrorized by someone equally as vicious and, in some ways, far more diabolical than London's infamous Jack the Ripper. For almost exactly one year, the Midnight Assassin crisscrossed the entire city, striking on moonlit nights, using axes, knives, and long steel rods to rip apart women from every race and class. At the time the concept of a serial killer was unthinkable, but the murders continued, the killer became more brazen, and the citizens' panic reached a fever pitch.

Before it was all over, at least a dozen men would be arrested in connection with the murders, and the crimes would expose what a newspaper described as "the most extensive and profound scandal ever known in Austin." And yes, when Jack the Ripper began his attacks in 1888, London police investigators did wonder if the killer from Austin had crossed the ocean to terrorize their own city.

With vivid historical detail and novelistic flair, Texas Monthly journalist Skip Hollandsworth brings this terrifying saga to life.

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