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

Crown. Aug. 2019. 432p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780451498625. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780451498649. CRIME
Abbott (Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy) chronicles the involvement of several vivid Jazz Age figures in a famed scandal and courtroom trial. George Remus, “King of the Bootleggers,” was a German immigrant who practiced law before turning to bootlegging. He began a fateful affair with his legal secretary, Augusta Imogene Holmes, in 1920. The two occupied center stage in Cincinnati, enjoying the perks of their considerable windfall; they were known for lighting cigars with $100 bills. Remus was adept at using his knowledge of the legal system to sidestep the Volstead Act, until his hubris got the better of him and an earnest U.S. Assistant Attorney General, Mabel Walker Willebrandt, nailed him for numerous violations. Willebrandt’s protégé, Franklin Dodge, encountered Remus during this two-year stint in a penitentiary while working undercover. Dodge resigned and embarked on an affair with Imogene, dissolving her husband’s assets and plotting his demise. But Remus gets there first, leading to his trial for Imogene’s murder; bits of testimony are interspersed throughout.
VERDICT Abbot keeps up the momentum and suspense while giving her substantial characters their due. Recommended for fans of historical true crime, such as Mary Cummings’s Saving Sin City; fans of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire will also devour this juicy read.

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