Murder City: The Bloody History of Chicago in the Twenties
Michael Lesy's portrait of a gruesome era could be fiction but it's not.
"Things began as they usually did: Someone shot someone else." So begins a chapter of Michael Lesy's disturbingly satisfying account of Chicago in the 1920s, the epicenter of murder in America. A city where daily newspapers fell over each other to cover the latest mayhem. A city where professionals and amateurs alike snuffed one another out, and often for the most banal of reasons, such as wanting a Packard twin-six. Men killing men, men killing women, women killing mencrimes of loot and love. Just as Lesy's first book, Wisconsin Death Trip, subverted the accepted notion of the Gay Nineties, so Murder City gives us the dark side of the Jazz Age. Lesy's sharp, fearless storytelling makes a compelling case that this collection of criminals may be the progenitors of our modern age. 60 illustrations
packed with Thompson and Eller people. Judge Trude objected. Coroner Wolff took offense. “I don’t want you to make a political issue of this inquest,” Wolff said. “Well,” said Trude, “it is a political inquest—and it was a political murder.”35 The case eventually went to trial. The five detectives who’d chased Granady and the four crooks who’d killed him were acquitted. No one was ever charged with the killing of Diamond Joe. The day after the primaries, the Chicago Tribune declared itself
commanding officer was asked about this. “He was not in the Argonne and did not mow down Germans. . . . He was in officer candidate school behind the lines when the battalion was in the Argonne.”7 Carl had fought it out with the stranger exactly nine months after he’d come home from the Army. A week passed. Lieutenant Wanderer, Heartbroken Hero. Mourns. Etc. Then the papers found other stories to tell. Carl went back to work behind the counter of his father’s shop. About the time Carl was
The temperature was close to zero. Ice bobbed in the yellow water. The sky was lit by bursts of flaming methane, vented from refinery chimneys. Huge gas storage tanks stood, far off, in clusters. Hours passed. Arthur had been taken back to his cell and allowed to sleep. More men—city workers and policemen—joined the search. Tugboats, flat boats, men with pikes and poles and draglines—all searched for Kate’s body. They found nothing. Someone reported finding a yellow pencil stub; someone reported
‘her’ wide spread mouth, as police locked him up last night in the men’s quarters of the Hyde Park station. “The thirty-three-year-old man, known for thirteen years as Mrs. Frances Carrick . . . rubbed stubby fingers over a chin smeared with rouge and whiskers. Then he grunted, ‘Hell, I wish they’d give me a safety razor and a shot of gin.’ ”14 A squad of detectives led by a sergeant named Cusack had raided the Thompson/Carrick/Clark apartment in the middle of the night. Frances met them at the
time it was Dean O’Banion himself who did the shooting. He shot Davey Miller in the stomach, in front of one thousand people, on an opening night, after a show, outside the La Salle Theater. Everyone ran. O’Banion liked that. His left leg was an inch shorter than his right. Better other people should run. O’Banion began his career as a choirboy and a petty thief in a bad neighborhood on Chicago’s Near North Side called “Little Hell.” His mentor was a psychopath whose rages were calmed only by