For the first half of this brief narrative non-fiction book, the prose crackles and the action builds and the reader wonders how he or she has never heard about any of this before. Collins takes the reader from the discovery of a matching trunk and torso in separate parts of New York City on a sweltering summer day in 1897 through the haphazard police investigation and the competing detective work from New York’s bloodthirsty newspapers. Even readers familiar with the antics of newspaper magnates Josef Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst will gasp in amazement in the lawlessness and chicanery that the yellow papers engage in to boost circulation.
However, once the perpetrators are apprehended, real events begin to let Mr. Collins down. Much as he might try to wring every juicy tidbit out of them, the court proceedings as described here are fairly straightforward and h0-hum. For this reason the second half of the book loses its way and meanders to a disappointing conclusion. If this book is ever filmed, I guarantee they change the ending, “based on a true story” be damned.
Still, while it soars Collins’s book reaches great heights. A fascinating look at what was ultimately a small story.