cover image The Lindbergh Child

The Lindbergh Child

Rick Geary, . . NBM, $15.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-56163-529-0

Following his multivolume, nonfiction Treasury of Victorian Murder , Geary moves into the 20th century with a study of the 1932 kidnap-killing of celebrity aviator Charles A. Lindbergh's infant son. Not knowing their son was already dead, the little boy's parents negotiated for months with the kidnapper, while a swarm of quirky characters in search of money or glory rushed to “help.” This macabre carnival could give a writer excuses for burlesque or melodrama, but Geary prefers to hold his subject at arm's length to examine it carefully. He delineates the large cast clearly while also exploring the case's presumably reliable physical evidence, and his crisp pen and ink style cleverly emphasizes the period snapshot appearance of places and people, especially the enigmatic Bruno Richard Hauptmann, who was convicted and eventually executed for the crime. There are reasons to doubt at least whether Hauptmann was the only criminal, but Geary refuses to conjecture beyond the evidence, despite his bemused understanding of how many of the people involved in the case lost their self-control. This thoughtful retelling of one of the century's most notorious crimes deserves several readings. (Sept.)