The Witch of New York: The Trials of Polly Bodine and the Creation of Tabloid Justice in America

Spotify Audiobooks. Mar. 2024. 8:53 hrs. ISBN 9798368926919. $55.99. CRIME
Lawyer and crime historian Hortis (The Mob and the City) tells the intriguing story of Mary “Polly” Bodine, the first American woman to be put on trial for capital murder for killing her 24-year-old sister-in-law, Emeline Houseman, and infant niece, Ann Eliza in 1843. Eager to broadcast salacious details of the trial, the tabloids sprang into action, sharing every aspect, whether true or not, and painting Bodine as a shameful woman of low moral character. The line between fact and fiction, impartiality and bias, and reporting and scandalmongering became hopelessly muddied throughout the three trials that Bodine endured. Narrator Erin Bennett provides a steady performance, speaking clearly and employing measured pacing as she describes the grip that sensationalism, gossip, and slander had on the case and the final verdict. Bennett’s professional and precise delivery allows Hortis’s well-researched work to speak for itself and makes for compelling listening.
VERDICT A winning recommendation for listeners interested in true crime or the intricacies of the legal system. This account of the devastating power of rumors and hearsay is both fascinating and chilling.
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