Wolraich’s account of the murder and the ensuing investigations, helmed by the former judge Samuel Seabury...is brick-dense yet propulsive. Unlike the sensationalist reporters of the era, Wolraich manages to handle even the seediest of underworlds with reportorial spareness and elegance, treating his material more as a nonfiction political thriller than a true-crime whodunit ... The book also provides a fascinating portrait of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, then New York’s governor, as he navigated the fallout from Gordon’s murder and the public’s demands to clean up the state’s snakes’ nests ... Equally unnerving is the book’s reminder of how infrequently and unevenly justice is meted out. While Wolraich justifiably marvels that Gordon’s murder led to the collapse of Tammany, this posthumous triumph was qualified by the fact that Gordon’s actual killers were exonerated by a jury.
Even though she's dead before Bishop begins, Gordon emerges fully formed in Wolraich's account ... I'd read an entire book about Gordon and I'd love more on the atmosphere of the Jazz Age itself. But I was intrigued by Wolraich's account of Tammany and by the connections he makes between the politics of 100 years ago and 2024. There's a sense throughout the book that the world doesn't work so differently today and that we could be just one splashy murder away from a similar comeuppance.
Michael Wolraich tells the story in vivid detail ... reads like a cross between a whodunnit and a political expose. Both stories provide plenty of suspects, false leads, and rabbit trails, but unraveling one holds the key to unraveling the other. And Vivian Gordon’s tragic story is at the heart of it all.