By Patricia Cline Cohen
In 1836, the homicide of a tender prostitute made headlines in manhattan urban and round the kingdom, inaugurating a sex-and-death sensationalism in information reporting that haunts us this present day. Patricia Cline Cohen is going at the back of those first lurid money owed to reconstruct the tale of the mysterious sufferer, Helen Jewett.
From her beginnings as a servant lady in Maine, Helen Jewett refashioned herself, utilizing 4 successive aliases, right into a hugely paid courtesan. She invented existence tales for herself that helped her construct a sympathetic clients between manhattan City's elite, and she or he extra captivated her consumers via her seductive letters, which combined parts of conventional female demureness with sexual boldness.
But she used to be to fulfill her match--and her nemesis--in a adolescence referred to as Richard Robinson. He was once one among an unheard of variety of younger males who flooded into America's burgeoning towns within the 1830s to meet the recent enterprise society's possible countless want for clerks. The son of a longtime Connecticut kin, he was once severe, boastful, and given to posturing. He grew to become Helen Jewett's lover in a tempestuous affair and ten months later used to be arrested for her homicide. He stood trial in a five-day court drama that ended together with his acquittal amid the cheers of enormous quantities of fellow clerks and different spectators.
With no conviction for homicide, nor closure of any style, the case persevered to tantalize the general public, even supposing Richard Robinson disappeared from view. in the course of the Erie Canal, down the Ohio and the Mississippi, and in terms of New Orleans, he reached the wilds of Texas and a brand new lifestyles lower than a brand new identify. via her meticulous and creative learn, Patricia Cline Cohen strains his existence there and the numerous twists and turns of the lingering secret of the homicide. Her lovely portrayals of Helen Jewett, Robinson, and their raffish, colourful nineteenth-century global make brilliant a frenetic urban lifestyles and sexual morality whose complexities, contradictions, and matters resonate with these of our personal time.
From the Hardcover edition.