Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A Fascinating True Murder Story

In Paul Collin’s book,  Duel with the Devil: The True Story of How Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr Teamed Up to Take on America's First Sensational Murder Mystery, I was fascinated at his writing style which helped move me into the drama of the first major murder mystery in the United States. 

The story takes place in 1799-1800; and moves beyond that as Collins shares the fate of those involved in this case.  It’s the story of a young Quaker woman, Elma Sands, who is found dead in the bottom of a well.  The story takes place in lower Manhatten and Collins, helps us to understand the cities dynamics as it was in that era.

Elma, was unmarried, and was living in a boarding house for the past 3 years.  The story focuses at first on muffs she borrowed and hadn’t returned and escalates into a murder mystery.  Another tenant, a young carpenter named Levi Weeks, was accused of the murder.

The well in which Elma's body was found belonged to a new municipal enterprise named the Manhattan Company, which had been chartered by the state legislature to provide the city with clean drinking water.  Aaron Burr was the chairman of the company and was going to defend Levi Weeks.  Assisting him was Alexander Hamilton, who was an arch rival of Burr.  Collins gives us insight into the progression of the trial, slowly unveiling different facts from the story.  Collins notes that all quotes in parentheses are literal quotes as recorded from the trial.

He has so many pages at the end of the book of notes and comments, which helps bring him authenticity.  He used stories from 9 newspapers and actual transcripts of the court case, as well as diaries and journals.

He concludes the book by discussing the duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton, the death of Hamilton and the effect this duel had on the political career of Burr.

This was a fascinating book.  If you enjoy history and murder mysteries this is an excellent choice.

I received this book free of charge from "Blogging for Books" in return for an honest review.

Blogging for Books - Free Books in Exchange for an Honest Review

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