Penguin will release Human Game on October 2, 2012.
After “The Great Escape” was over, an epic manhunt began . . .
Immortalized on film as “The Great Escape,” the mass breakout of 76 Allied airmen from the infamous Stalag Luft III on the night of March 24, 1944, is one of World War II’s greatest tales of adventure—but where that Hollywood classic fades to black, another amazing true story begins. With brutal efficiency, the Gestapo murdered 50 recaptured POWs between March 25 and April 13, 1944, at Hitler’s personal request. The murdered were not gunned down together, as depicted in the popular film, but executed in groups of twos and threes, shot in the back of the neck along desolate country roads. To get rid of physical evidence, the bodies were incinerated at nearby concentration camps.
The killings sparked a grueling Allied manhunt for the Gestapo gunmen, many of whom went underground and vanished amidst the chaos of post-war Europe. Human Game is that story, a tale of detection set against the shattered landscape of a defeated Germany.
Read takes us back to the post-Gold Rush era, when San Francisco was closer to the Hobbesian jungle of HBO’s ‘Deadwood’ than a modern metropolis . . . WAR OF WORDS is an engrossing tale of old San Francisco. Any fan of true crime or the seedy origins of the newspaper you are now reading will enjoy it.
– San Francisco Chronicle
Here is a narrative with the pace of a true crime work . . . A true tale of the Old West, replete with smoking guns, brothels, and rugged individualism, this entertaining work will appeal not only to those interested in U.S. history, particularly of the West, but of newspaper history.
– Library Journal
The Kalloch/de Young feud brims with a colorful cast of characters and explosive plot twists, and Read relates it in melodramatic style. His exuberant prose, liberally spiced with quotes from his florid predecessors, is well suited to this tale of political and journalistic mayhem and murder.
– Providence Journal
A real-life Barbary Coast, War of Words details the bloody birth of the San Francisco Chronicle.
In the San Francisco of the Old West, bad news was considered the best news and the term “circulation war” was literal. In this midst, Charles de Young—cofounder of the San Francisco Chronicle—launched his fledgling paper in 1865 intending to stay out of the fray. His impartiality wasn’t to last. With a nose for news and an ear for gossip, he promoted politicians he favored and lambasted those he scorned. Intent on cleaning up the rough and tumble city, de Young’s weapon of choice for ridding San Francisco of corruption was not sword or pistol, but pen.
De Young’s verbal venom soon targeted Isaac Kalloch, a golden-tongued preacher with a tainted past. Kalloch’s run for mayor infuriated de Young, who editorialized with disdain. Insults volleyed back and forth between the two men until the verbal blows erupted into explosive violence on the streets of San Francisco.
Using newspaper accounts, diaries, and letters, Simon Read reaches back in time to reconstruct a news story that captivated the nation. Read shines a light on the war of words that escalated to physical violence, granting modern newshounds in-the-moment access to the shocking events that led to the start of one of America’s most renowned newspapers.
Short, gruesome and instantly gripping . . . DARK CITY will appeal to people’s morbid fascination of criminality and murder with its frank and horrific descriptions of actions that contrast starkly with London’s famed Blitz spirit. Simon Read has constructed a literary offering that is not for young or impressionable readers, but one that will be relished by fans of the genre.
– Soldier Magazine (UK)
There was more to wartime London than stiff upper-lips and rousing choruses of ‘Roll out the Barrel’. There was crime and plenty of it in the time of Blackouts, Blitz and Bloodshed, and it is chronicled here in this lively and accessible history . . .
Criminals hunted their prey without fear of reprisal. Many operated under the cover of darkness, emerging when the city sank into the oblivion of its nightly blackout; others simply struck whenever opportunity presented itself. At a time when Londoners were pulling together in the face of terrible adversity, there were an increasing number of looters, racketeers, terrorists, criminal gangs, prostitutes, rapists and murderers stalking the bomb-ravaged, panic-ridden streets, and this book chronicles the rapid rise of crime throughout this turbulent period.
Indeed, wartime London was a criminal’s paradise. The number of bodies being retrieved during the Blitz made it virtually impossible for authorities to perform autopsies on all of them. The question soon arose: Who were the victims of bombings, and who had simply been murdered? Coinciding with the 70th anniversary of the London Blitz, award-winning crime writer Simon Read will paint a vivid picture of what life was really like in 1940s London, as well as profile the crimes of its most notorious perpetrators, including the Blackout Ripper, Chicago Joe, the Elephant Boys, and the infamous Rillington Place Murderer, John Reginald Christie.
While the Luftwaffe bombed London and its citizens fled underground, a killer emerged from the shadows to satisfy his inner darkness . . .
In February 1942, a woman was found strangled in a London air aid shelter. Chief Superintendent Frederic Cherrill, head of Scotland Yard’s revolutionary fingerprint division, knew just how well the wartime blackouts concealed crime. But this was a brutal, senseless killing with few clues, no apparent—and no sign of the terror to come.
The nightly air raids had darkened London’s neon dazzle but not its urge to live it up. With death a daily possibility, drinks and sex were everywhere. But one man had other urges. Over a five-day period, he murdered with a lightning-fast ferocity that stunned and baffled investigators. Dubbed the “Blackout Ripper,” he left few clues in his bloody wake—until a slipup revealed his true identity, and shocked a city that thought it had seen it all.
Michael Malloy was a drunk, stumbling through life in a whiskey haze. His fellow barflies saw something else . . .
A chance to get rich quick. Just take out life insurance policies on the chump and whack him. Dubbed the Murder Trust, the makeshift band of low-rent thugs—a syphilitic speakeasy owner, a crooked undertaker and a crazed gunman—gave Malloy rounds of wood alcohol on the house, fed him poisoned oysters and tainted sardines, dragged him into the street, repeatedly plowed into his limp body with a taxi, and left him exposed to freezing temperatures.
The Murder Trust waited to collect . . .
But one week later, Malloy stumbled into his favorite haunt with quite a story to tell his friends, or at least the parts of it he remembered. What the Murder Trust did next would inadvertently turn their sadly oblivious victim into a distinguished, headline-making symbol of Depression-era resilience in a crime so convoluted, so singularly outrageous, authorities refused to believe it until the evidence against the Murder Trust proved irrefutable . . .