The Girls of Murder City: Fame, Lust, and the Beautiful Killers who Inspired Chicago
by Douglas Perry



The true story of the murderesses who became media sensations and inspired the musical Chicago

Chicago, 1924.

There was nothing surprising about men turning up dead in the Second City. Life was cheaper than a quart of illicit gin in the gangland capital of the world. But two murders that spring were special – worthy of celebration. So believed Maurine Watkins, a wanna-be playwright and a “girl reporter” for the Chicago Tribune, the city’s “hanging paper.” Newspaperwomen were supposed to write about clubs, cooking and clothes, but the intrepid Miss Watkins, a minister’s daughter from a small town, zeroed in on murderers instead. Looking for subjects to turn into a play, she would make “Stylish Belva” Gaertner and “Beautiful Beulah” Annan – both of whom had brazenly shot down their lovers – the talk of the town. Love-struck men sent flowers to the jail and newly emancipated women sent impassioned letters to the newspapers. Soon more than a dozen women preened and strutted on “Murderesses’ Row” as they awaited trial, desperate for the same attention that was being lavished on Maurine Watkins’s favorites.

In the tradition of Erik Larson’s The Devil in the White City and Karen Abbott’s Sin in the Second City, Douglas Perry vividly captures Jazz Age Chicago and the sensationalized circus atmosphere that gave rise to the concept of the celebrity criminal. Fueled by rich period detail and enlivened by a cast of characters who seemed destined for the stage, The Girls of Murder City is crackling social history that simultaneously presents the freewheeling spirit of the age and its sober repercussions.


I recommend this book if you like Chicago and/or true crime–if you like both, then you definitely should read it! I had no idea that the musical was 1) based so closely on actual events or 2) adapted from a play written in the 1920s by a reporter who witnessed and reported on the events and trials herself.

Too cool! And fascinating, in a train wreck, I-can’t-believe-this-really-happened kind of way.

Not to mention aggravating–if you were pretty enough (or figured out how to dress better and do your hair and makeup on time to make a difference in front of the all-male jury) you literally could get away with murder in Chicago. If you were “ugly”, not originally from America, or not white, however? There was a good chance you would not only be convicted, but you could get the death penalty.

Yeah. Justice.

My only complaint about the book? I listened to it on audio (the recording itself very well done–narrator did a great job) and it was a little hard to keep track of all the people discussed as the story went on. There are so, so many people in the story, murderesses and others. I seriously needed a cheat sheet. Fortunately I listened to it with Mini Moe #2 and we managed to help each other (mostly) keep everyone straight. I just might have to check the book out of the library, though, just to double check who is who again (and look for pictures… ;))

Rating: 4 stars / B+


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New Release Review: AMERICAN MURDER HOUSES by Steve Lehto

Well, I was reading it Halloween week… 😉

American Murder Houses: A Coast-to-Coast Tour of the Most Notorious Houses of Homicide
by Steve Lehto


There are places in the United States of America where violent acts of bloodshed have occurred.

Years may pass—even centuries—but the mark of death remains.

They are known as Murder Houses.

From a colonial manse in New England to a small-town home in Iowa to a Beverly Hills mansion, these residences have taken on a life of their own, gaining everything from local lore and gossip to national—and even global—infamy.

Writer Steve Lehto recounts the stories behind the houses where Lizzie Borden supposedly gave her stepmother “forty whacks,” where the real Amityville Horror was first unleashed by gunfire, and where the demented acts of the Manson Family horrified a nation—as well some lesser-known sites of murder that were no less ghastly.

Exploring the past and present of more than twenty-five renowned homicide scenes, American Murder Houses is a tour through the real estate of some of the most grisly and fascinating crimes in American history.




I do enjoy reading true crime stories, and may have a slight addiction to The New Detectives and Forensic Files (everyone binge watches them, surely?) so picking this one up was a bit of a no-brainer.

This book offers an interesting perspective and is a quick read, though overall there were some odd bits to it. Lehto did a decent job of summarizing the crimes and their aftermath, but sometimes his writing just felt…off. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what bothered me much of the time–odd phrasing, I guess? He also frequently seemed to be trying to put himself above “all those people” who found his topic fascinating…which was more than a little annoying. If he didn’t have an interest, then why did he write it? For purely financial reasons?

I did learn of some new murders that I hadn’t heard of before, and found out some interesting new details about some that I had. I’m not sure how I feel about the fact that he gives the addresses of all the homes (even those that changed their addresses to avoid “murder house fans”), though. Sure, people could probably find them out easily enough, but I’d personally make them work for it.

I would also have really liked to see a picture of every house…at least the ones that are still standing and able to be photographed. The photo section is pretty slim. Though it was an entertaining way to pass the time overall, I’m not sure if I’d race to read another book by the author.

Rating: 3 1/2 stars / B-

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True Crime Book Blast and Giveaway: SIGNS OF A SERIAL KILLER by Crystal Clary

A chilling true crime offering today…

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Title: Signs of a Serial Killer
Author: Crystal Clary
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Pages: 198
Genre: True Crime
Format: Ebook

Purchase at AMAZON

My friend Sue and I had spent so much time together we felt like sisters. We had made so many plans for our future, as young girls do. We would graduate from school, get married, have a career, children and we would be lifelong friends sharing those moments together. Part of that dream had already come true. Sue was a year older than myself. I went to her graduation and was so proud of her. She had just got an apartment with her boyfriend. I was halfway through my senior year. We went Christmas shopping at the mall. But by January 16, 1980, my friend Sue went missing. When I graduated Sue wasn’t there. Then I got my first apartment; still no Sue. I would hear nothing about what happened to Sue for 15 years. Now I will try to fill in the blanks that I have learned over the years. And the surprising shocker after 33 years. Because of the sensitive nature of this book I will be using the pen name Crystal Clary. Since most of the information that I’m sharing with you was unknown to me at the time I decided to write this book omnisciently so you as the reader will be able to see all and know all.

serial killer book

click to buy @ Amazon

Crystal is giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

amazon gc giveaway

Terms & Conditions:

  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Amazon Gift Certificate or Paypal Cash.
  • This giveaway begins July 1 and ends on July 15.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on Thursday, July 17 .
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.

Good luck everyone!


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