Blood & Ink: The Scandalous Jazz Age Double Murder That Hooked America on True Crime

Morrow. Sept. 2022. 352p. ISBN 9780063001732. $32.50. CRIME
Vanity Fair correspondent Pompeo tells two stories: a century-old unsolved murder and the rise of sensational and tabloid journalism. In 1922, the bodies of Reverend Edward Hall and choir singer Eleanor Mills, both married to other people, were found arranged in an intimate pose near a crabapple tree in New Brunswick, NJ. Phil Payne, editor of the New York Daily News, hired a top reporter to follow this case. Payne himself was soon scooped up by the New York Daily Mirror, launching an NYC tabloid war that would rage until the Mirror folded in October 1963. Pompeo shows how tabloid journalism was an unprecedented force that not only changed the course of justice in the murder investigation but also shaped the modern world. The accused, for example, were able to schmooze reporters in hopes of being portrayed more sympathetically, and the investigation and two trials resulted in aquittal. The case’s physical evidence, transcripts, grand jury proceedings, and depositions survived, some by pure chance, which enabled Pompeo to present a full picture of what transpired.
VERDICT This enthralling, well-researched book will be a nice addition to libraries’ true-crime and mass communication sections.
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