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The Girls of Murder City: Fame, Lust, and…

The Girls of Murder City: Fame, Lust, and the Beautiful Killers who… (original 2010; edition 2010)

by Douglas Perry

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3311849,443 (3.53)17
Title:The Girls of Murder City: Fame, Lust, and the Beautiful Killers who Inspired Chicago
Authors:Douglas Perry
Info:Viking Adult (2010), Hardcover, 320 pages
Collections:Books I've Read

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The Girls of Murder City: Fame, Lust, and the Beautiful Killers who Inspired Chicago by Douglas Perry (2010)


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Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
Closer to 3.5 stars. In some ways I felt like a voyeur reading this, though I'm sure everyone involved has been dead for a while. ( )
  gossamerchild88 | Mar 30, 2018 |
You know the musical Chicago? Guess what—it's all true!

Crime reporter Maurine Watkins covered the trials of some of a string of women in Chicago charged with killing a man, and watched them declared not guilty through a combination of being young and pretty and having really smart lawyers. The experience angered Watkins, and she used her formidable wit to comment on the show-biz shallowness of the whole ordeal. Fascinating read! ( )
  Mrs_McGreevy | Nov 17, 2016 |
Proving once again that there's nothing new in Chicago crime. ( )
  cookierooks | Nov 16, 2016 |
Fame, Lust, and the Beautiful Killers Who Inspired “Chicago” - a Jazz Age true crime account. Available on Hoopla.
  mcmlsbookbutler | Nov 1, 2016 |
I found the book rather bland. Yes the central theme that beautiful women charged with murder in the city of Chicago sparked my curiosity but the unwinding of the story left me wanting more from it. The central figure being the newspaper reporter was rather interesting but once again I felt the story plot was nothing special. I was intrigued that the Chicago Tribune was her paper as I started my career there years ago but not in the news department. I found looking back to those years of newspaper coverage as the major media force now long since replaced by the Internet as these same newspapers slowly fade from relevance. I will be looking again at the latest movie version of "Chicago" to match up events as related to the book now. ( )
  knightlight777 | Aug 3, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
As entertaining as Chicago (on stage or screen), and far more informative, The Girls of Murder City recaptures a moment in which the Victorian feminine ideal was (and wasn't) giving way to the "churning change" of the flapper lifestyle — and ebulliently elucidates the emergence of the criminal as celebrity. It's this summer's "not guilty" pleasure.
added by CSMcMahon | editNPR, Glenn Altschuler (Aug 5, 2010)
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The most beautiful women in the city were murderers.  (Prologue)
Out in the hallway, young men stood in a haphazard line, trying to look eager and nonchalant at the same time.  (Chapter 1)
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Chicago, 1924.  There was nothing surprising about men turning up dead in the Second City.  Life was cheaper than a quart of bathtub gin in the gangland capital of the world.  But a pair of murders that spring had something special.

For intrepid "girl reporter" Maurine Watkins, a minister's daughter from tiny Crawfordsville, Indiana, big-city life offered unimagined excitement.  Newspaperwomen were supposed to write bout clubs, cooking, and clothes, but within weeks of starting at the Chicago Tribune, Watkins found herself embroiled in two scandalous, sex-fueled murder cases.  The first involved Belva Gaertner, the witty sophisticated millionaire divorcée who feared returning to the poverty of her childhood.  Then there was Beulah Annan, a Kentucky farm girl turned jazz baby whose wistful beauty obscured an ice-cold narcissism.  Both had gunned down their lovers under mysterious circumstances.

In Chicago, Watkins learned, the all-male juries didn't convict women--especially beautiful women.  The young reporter was determined to change all that.  She mocked "Stylish Belva" and "Beautiful Beulah" on the front page and made them the talk of the town.  But the public reaction was not what she expected.  Love-struck men sent flowers to the jail; newly emancipated women sent impassioned letters to the newspapers.  Soon more than a dozen "murderesses" preened and strutted in the Cook County Jail as they awaited trial, desperate for the same attention that was being lavished on Watkin's "favorites."  None of these women--nor the police, the reporters, or the public--could imagine the bizarre way it would all end.

Douglas Perry vividly captures the sensationalized circus atmosphere that gave rise to the concept of the celebrity criminal--and gave Chicago its most famous story.  Fueled by rich period detail and 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 Jazz Age and its sober repercussions.  [from the jacket]




 A grand object lesson

 The variable feminine mechanism
One-gun duel
Hang me? That's a joke
No sweetheart in the world is worth killing
The kind of gal who never could be true
A modern Salome ; Her mind works vagrantly
Jail school
The love-foiled girl
It's terrible, but it's better
What fooled everybody
A modest little housewife
Anne, you have killed me
Beautiful, but not dumb!
The tides of hell
Hatproof, sexproof, and damp
A grand and gorgeous show
Entirely too vile
The most monotonous city on earth.
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The true story of the murderesses who became media sensations and inspired the musical Chicago. There was nothing surprising about men turning up dead in Jazz Age Chicago. Life was cheaper than a quart of illicit gin in the gangland capital of the world. But two murders that spring were special, or so believed Maurine Watkins, 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 zeroed in on murderers instead. She made "Stylish Belva" Gaertner and "Beautiful Beulah" Annan--both of whom had brazenly shot down their lovers--the talk of the town. 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.--From publisher description.… (more)

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