... comprehensive ... charts two explosive and intertwined narratives: a pair of gruesome homicides and the rise of American tabloid journalism ... will delight journalism nerds ... he advances a convincing argument that hard-boiled editors — including the fascinating and doomed Phil Payne — and their relentless reporters drove the most consequential twists of the case. (The female journalists who dominated the emergent true-crime beat deserve their own book) ... True-crime obsessives who like their murders tied up with a bow will be disappointed by the case’s lack of closure. But Pompeo tries to make the most of his loose ends. He has done a staggering amount of research — he recounts suspects’ jailhouse packing lists — although he can’t materialize forensic evidence where there is none. When the verdict arrives in the book’s final 50 pages, it lands like a sigh. Pompeo himself refrains from offering up his own best guess on the identity of the real culprit until the bitter end, and his restraint lets readers formulate their own theories about what happened beneath the crabapple tree. And while those cogs turn, sections that focus on the press shine. It’s a testament to Pompeo’s skill that his tabloid exegesis is just as riveting as a double murder in an open field. I could read several thousand more words on the eccentric vulgarian Bernarr Macfadden, whose newspaper was so crass it was nicknamed the PornoGraphic ... dead ends and false starts can drag on ... the slower moments of can read like a court stenographer’s notes ... To keep up the momentum, Pompeo has an unfortunate habit of borrowing a format from his tabloid source material. Several chapters end on exaggerated cliffhangers ... Flourishes aside, Blood & Ink is an addictive whodunit and a vivid depiction of a crime that gripped a generation of newspaper readers. It refutes the notion that our taste for the salacious is some product of People magazine or the internet age ... does unravel some of the mysteries of our present.
... exhaustively researched ... The story is well-rendered, bolstered by access to the original case files and trial transcripts ... But the writing of the crime sections, brisk and well paced as they are, lacks a sense of depth. I never felt like Edward Hall and Eleanor Mills, or their intimates and acquaintances, rose above what was written about them in said case files and transcripts...I suspect it has more to do with the subtle changes in style that emerge when Pompeo turns his attention to the media’s symbiotic but ultimately parasitic role in sensationalizing the story to sell more newspapers ... That Blood & Ink moves at a swift narrative clip is owing to Pompeo’s delight in detailing the competitiveness of the reporters covering the crime, as well as the differing internal machinations of tabloid versus broadsheet editors.
... compulsively readable ... Pompeo does a thorough job highlighting the questionable tactics of the scandal sheets of the period, such as a staged séance to elicit a confession ... Drawing on extensive documents related to the case that were lost until 2019, Pompeo provides the definitive account of the murders. This is essential reading for true crime buffs.