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Killer Colt

Murder, Disgrace, and the Making of an American Legend
Killer Colt: Murder, Disgrace, and the Making of an American Legend. Ballantine. Oct. 2010. c.336p. illus. ISBN 9780345476814. $28. CRIME
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The crime of the 19th century took place late one afternoon in New York City. At a time when murders were gruesomely reported in the newspapers, this case took precedence over all others. The reader is drawn into the early days of forensic science and detective work as the 1842 John Colt-Samuel Adams murder case is investigated and brought to trial. Period notables Horace Greeley, editor of the New York Tribune, and authors Edgar Allan Poe and Herman Melville, both of whom wrote short stories based on certain aspects of the crime, become a part of the legacy of this notorious case. The defendant's younger brother, Samuel Colt, inventor and patent holder of the revolver later made famous by the Texas Rangers in the Mexican American War, is called as a witness. As the story unfolds and a bid for a new trial is refused by the New York Supreme Court, the reader becomes well acquainted with the criminal justice system in the days before the American Civil War.
VERDICT Recommended for American history buffs with an interest in true crime stories.

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