cover image Murder Among Friends: How Leopold and Loeb Tried to Commit the Perfect Crime

Murder Among Friends: How Leopold and Loeb Tried to Commit the Perfect Crime

Candace Fleming. Random House/Schwartz, $19.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-593-17742-6

In five distinct sections, this gripping, thriller-paced true crime portrait by Fleming (The Rise and Fall of Charles Lindbergh) centers Nathan Leopold (1904–1971) and Richard Loeb (1905–1936), who in May 1924 as University of Chicago students and on-again, off-again lovers targeted and killed Loeb’s 14-year-old second cousin Bobby Franks, in an attempt to commit the “perfect crime.” Beginning with a grisly account of the killing, the page-turning narrative next traces wealthy Leopold and Loeb’s childhoods and early friendship among Chicago’s Jewish elite, the tracking of the killers, the duo’s storied confessions, and the riveting courtroom battle involving attorney Clarence Darrow. Electrifying descriptions of the pivotal trial provide nuanced ethical and legal context around Darrow’s arguments against the death penalty. Fleming employs her usual flair for enlivening history, offering rich layers of information about the time, including the role that anti-Semitism, newspapers, and police corruption played in the case. Though Leopold and Loeb’s crime is difficult to stomach, Fleming crafts an absorbing saga sure to ensnare readers in its thrall. Black-and-white photographs and newspaper reproductions appear throughout, and an afterword and copious back matter reveal the book’s wealth of research. Ages 12–up. Agent: Ethan Ellenberg, Ethan Ellenberg Agency. (Mar.)