Friday, February 25, 2011
I'm still reading "The Girls of Murder City, " but I have other books to read, and it looks like I won't be able to finish it before it has to go back to the library. Too bad, it's a fun book with a lot to say about journalism and the way Chicago (above) was in the 20s.
My favorite girl murderer in the book is Beulah Annan (above). According to the cover blurb, she was "a Kentucky farm girl turned jazz baby whose wistful beauty obscured an ice-cold narcissism." Her husband adored her, and worked long hours to support her, but she found him boring, and she had a taste for bad boys.
One day one of those bad boys brought a couple of bottles of wine to her apartment. Her husband was at work so the two sat on the couch drinking and fooling around, and then the guy asked to borrow some money. She gave him a few bucks but her tone might have been derisive because he replied that he might decide to leave her, and then where would she be? As he got up to leave, she grabbed her husband's revolver and shot him dead.
She didn't know what to do with the body so she left it where it was in the middle of the floor and danced to records for a couple of hours. Her favorite song was "Hula Lou," which she played over and over til her husband came home. The husband was flabbergasted, and he called the police. When they questioned Beulah she calmly confessed to what I wrote above.
The end of the story, you say? Hardly. It was just the beginning.
The murder occurred in 20s Chicago which was the scene of a circulation war between The Chicago Tribune and Hearst's Herald Examiner. On stories like this one the two papers could be relied on to take opposite points of view. For the Tribune Beulah was a spoiled brat and a dangerous killer. For the Herald Examiner and The American she was the lonely victim of a workaholic husband: a fragile, fairy-like waif from the farm trying to navigate the heartless big city. The scene was set: The Trib and the Herald nose to nose, with a fabulous murder trial and with Beulah Annan's life hanging in the balance.
Geez, I'm running out of space. I'll take this up again next time.
Posted by Eddie Fitzgerald at 7:39 PM