Author: Paul Collins
Summary: Fun, engaging, well-researched. I was sad it ended.
“On November 23rd of 1849, in the heart of Boston, one of the city’s richest men simply vanished. Dr. George Parkman, a Brahmin who owned much of Boston’s West End, was last seen that afternoon visiting his alma mater, Harvard Medical School. Police scoured city tenements and the harbor, and offered hefty rewards as leads put the elusive Dr. Parkman at sea or hiding in Manhattan. But one Harvard janitor held a much darker suspicion: that their ruthless benefactor had never left the Medical School building alive.”
I’ve had a hard time getting back into blogging after some travel last weekend, so I’m going to start with a nice, simple, rave review. This book was everything I look for in narrative nonfiction. The writing was extremely engaging, full of details that brought the time period to life. I particularly enjoyed details pulled straight from newspaper headlines. It made me certain the author had done their research (unlike when authors talk about things like the weather, for example – I always wonder if they’re making it up for atmosphere). The current events described, from riots to railroad construction, also gave a great cross-section of life at the time.
The story itself was also well chosen. The events of the murder were intriguing. They also highlighted the interplay between class and the law and drew us into a precedent-setting court case. Although I was thrilled to see how thoroughly cited the story was, I was disappointed when I reached the end of the story far before the end of the book. This was a real page turner and I’d happily have read another 100 pages. Highly recommended to fans of true crime or narrative nonfiction.