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

Full Synopsis
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.

"Berkrot has a deep and projecting voice that's easy to follow and enjoy. He handles the straightforward narrative smoothly, using pause and emphasis to highlight more important passages." ---Publishers Weekly Audio Review

"A well-researched and skillfully crafted time capsule about Chicago-style justice (or lack thereof)." ---Boston Globe

"Berkrot's reading is fundamentally clear, well paced, and sensitive to the text." ---AudioFile

"[Perry's] savvy, flamboyant social history illuminates a dawning age of celebrity culture." ---Publishers Weekly

"The real lives and crimes of these deadly women, as well as the story of Watkins's moral crusade, make for a spellbinding read for history, crime, and theatre fans." ---Library Journal

"In The Girls of Murder City, Douglas Perry magically mixes true crime, sociology, psychology, romance (of a sort) and near-slapstick comedy into an incredible book." ---Jeff Guin, author of Go Down Together

"The Girls of Murder City is a rip-roaring...visit to a fascinating time and place in American history, a book that is destined to become a Jazz Age classic." ---Carlton Stowers, author of the Edgar Award winner To the Last Breath

"Crime doesn't pay for the girls of Murder City, but it sure pays off for Douglas Perry's [fans].... Highly entertaining and very intriguing." ---Howard Blum, author of the New York Times bestseller American Lightning

"A well-researched, fast-paced story behind the story." ---Booklist Starred Review
Booklist Review

The Girls of Murder City

Fame, Lust, and the Beautiful Killers Who Inspired Chicago

Author Douglas Perry

Narrated by Peter Berkrot

Publication date Aug 5, 2010

Running time 11 hrs

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