The best true crime of the Roaring Twenties

The Books I Picked & Why

Tinseltown: Murder, Morphine, and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood

By William J. Mann

Tinseltown: Murder, Morphine, and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood

Why this book?

This page-turner dives into the underbelly of old Hollywood and the circumstances surrounding the lurid and still unsolved 1922 murder of actor and director William Desmond Taylor, with more than a splash of sex, drugs, and decadence spilling over everything. It breaks new ground in what was already a well-documented case.


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The Bobbed Haired Bandit: A True Story of Crime and Celebrity in 1920s New York

By Stephen Duncombe, Andrew Mattson

The Bobbed Haired Bandit: A True Story of Crime and Celebrity in 1920s New York

Why this book?

In 1924 husband and wife team Celia and Ed Cooney, with a new baby on the way and not enough money, turned stick-up artists, with meek-looking, bobbed-hair Celia wielding the gun. The tabloids couldn’t get enough of the “flapper turned bad” storyline and for a time every bobbed-hair flapper and her swain in New York was under suspicion.


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Ponzi's Scheme: The True Story of a Financial Legend

By Mitchell Zuckoff

Ponzi's Scheme: The True Story of a Financial Legend

Why this book?

In 1920 Italian immigrant Charles Ponzi tapped into the era’s unmatched appetite for greed. The Boston-based swindler and con artist created a pyramid scheme that in a little over a year allowed him to live the high life while fleecing his money-hungry investors of more than $20 million – over $250 million in 2021 dollars.


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The Ghosts of Eden Park: The Bootleg King, the Women Who Pursued Him, and the Murder That Shocked Jazz-Age America

By Karen Abbott

The Ghosts of Eden Park: The Bootleg King, the Women Who Pursued Him, and the Murder That Shocked Jazz-Age America

Why this book?

The Roaring Twenties wouldn’t have roared quite as loud without Prohibition. And without George Remus, who cornered the bourbon market while enjoying a lifestyle pulled from the pages of The Great Gatsby – and who probably murdered his wife along the way - the era would have been a lot less liquid.


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For the Thrill of It: Leopold, Loeb, and the Murder That Shocked Jazz Age Chicago

By Simon Baatz

For the Thrill of It: Leopold, Loeb, and the Murder That Shocked Jazz Age Chicago

Why this book?

A chilling account of the era’s most notorious murder, the 1924 thrill-killing of fourteen-year-old Bobbie Franks by University of Chicago students Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, two brilliant young men… who just wanted to know how it felt to murder someone. The case inspired Alfred Hitchcock’s classic film Rope.


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