Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Murdered Gill: Hamilton and Burr for the Defense

The mysterious death of Elma Sands created a furor in 1800s New York. The young girl disappeared from the boarding house where she lived with her cousin and her husband. The body was recovered days later from a well, dug as part of the Manhattan Water Project, the brain child of Aaron Burr. A young carpenter, Levi Weeks, was immediately arrested for the crime. He lived in the same boarding house as Elma and had shown interest in her, but did he kill her?

Not only is this a fascinating criminal trial but it gives a compelling picture of New York in 1800. Conditions for the poor were dreadful, yellow fever periodically decimated the population, and political rivals wrote scurrilous articles about each other. Burr and Hamilton, although both served under Washington, were bitter rivals, each believing the other a blackguard. However, both were attorneys, two if the best in New York, and being in debt to Levi's older brother, Ezra, they found themselves on the same defense team. It's a fascinating dynamic.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It moves smoothly though New York City history, the details of the murder, and subsequent trial. If you like historical murder mysteries don't miss this one.

I reviewed this book for the Amazon Vine Program.