The Ghosts of Eden Park: The Bootleg King, the Women Who Pursued Him, and the Murder That Shocked Jazz-Age America

Karen Abbott. Crown, $28 (432p) ISBN 978-0-4514-9862-5
Bestseller Abbott (Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War) revives an obscure cause célèbre in this engrossing true crime narrative. Relying heavily on primary sources, including trial transcripts, Abbott asserts in an author’s note that she “accurately depict[s] detailed scenes and entire conversations and reveal[s] characters’ thoughts, gestures, personalities, and histories.” That approach pays off from the start with a dramatic prologue set in 1927, in which a man’s pursuit of a woman in Cincinnati’s Eden Park ends with a gunshot. The reader later learns that they are George Remus, an attorney turned bootlegger, and his wife, Imogene. Prohibition, which became law in 1920, provided Remus with a golden opportunity to capitalize on the nation’s thirst for alcohol. Corrupt government officials at the highest levels of the Justice Department abetted his illegal schemes in exchange for bribes. The book’s hero is pioneering prosecutor Mabel Willebrandt, the U.S. assistant attorney general in charge of enforcing the Volstead Act, who was able to convict Remus in 1922 for violating the act. After Remus completed his sentence, frictions between him and Imogene led to her murder; that crime set the stage for an extraordinary trial in which Remus both represented himself—and asserted that he should be found not guilty of murder by reason of insanity. This real-life page-turner will appeal to fans of Erik Larson. Agent: Simon Lipskar, Writers House. (Aug.)
Reviewed on : 06/25/2019
Release date: 10/08/2019
Genre: Nonfiction
Book - 978-0-451-49863-2
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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