From rewned true-crime historian Harold Schechter comes the riveting exploration of a torious New York City murder in the 1890s, the fascinating forensic science of an earlier time, and the grisly court case that became a tabloid spectacle. The wayward son of a revered Civil War general, Roland Molineux enjoyed good looks, status, and fortune-hardly the qualities of a prime suspect in a series of shocking, merciless cyanide killings. Molineux's subsequent indictment for murder led to two explosive trials and a sex-infused scandal that shocked the nation. Bringing to life Manhattan's Gilded Age, Schechter captures all the colors of the tumultuous legal proceedings, gathering his own evidence and tackling subjects one dared address at the time-all in hopes of answering a tantalizing question: What powerfully dark motives could drive the wealthy scion of an eminent New York family to murder? Praise for The Devil's Gentleman A heady tale of sin, sex, jealousy and revenge in sepia-toned Manhattan. -The New York Times A dark chronicle of ghoulish revenge [and] journalistic sensationalism . . . [a] well-wrought anatomy of a murder and portrait of an age. -The Wall Street Journal Schechter peppers his account of one of America's earliest media circuses with peacock characters and deliciously tawdry details. . . . For scandal sweet tooths, this one's a beaut. -Entertainment Weekly In the hands of an artist and historian as gifted as Schechter, the material becomes a superbly evocative reconstruction of the fascinating period in American life that gave birth to our media-crazed society. -Bomb magazine Well told and powerfully written . . . Through newspaper accounts of the day and memoirs of the principals . . . Schechter brings [a crime] to vivid life. -San Antonio Express-News
Harold Schechter is a professor of American literature and culture at Queens College, the City University of New York. He is widely celebrated for both fiction and true-crime writing, including The Serial Killer Files. He lives in Brooklyn and Mattituck, Long Island, with his wife, the poet Kimiko Hahn. Visit the author's website at www.haroldschechter.com. From the Hardcover edition.