by Jim Fisher ‧ RELEASE DATE: Oct. 28, 1987
In the last decade, revisionist thinking (particularly as seen in Anthony Scaduto's Scapegoat, 1976) has had it that Bruno Richard Hauptmann was innocent of the Lindbergh kidnapping. Here, a former FBI agent and criminal justice professor attempts to prove that the right man did indeed go to the chair. In 1932, it was the crime of the century--the 20-month-old son of America's greatest hero snatched from his nursery in rural Hopewell, N.J., right under the noses of Charles and Anne Lindbergh. With great precision, Fisher details the ensuing hoopla: the guttural, misspelled ransom notes, the secret codes, the ransom paid, the disappearance of the kidnapper--and the accidental discovery of the dead baby, skull crushed, only a few miles from the Lindbergh mansion. Two years later, after ingeniously following a trail of gold notes from the ransom money, police picked up Bruno Richard Hauptmann, a German immigrant who lived in the Bronx and had worked as a carpenter (and thus could've fashioned the homemade ladder found beneath the nursery window). It's clear that with a decent lawyer (instead of the publicity-seeking buffoon he was forced to hire) and modern rules of evidence, Hauptmann would never have been convicted: he was beaten and held incommunicado by the police for two days after his arrest, until, in the words of an FBI agent: ""Hauptmann looks like a midget who has wandered through a Turkish bath for two sleepless days and nights."" After a circus of a trial, Hauptmann was convicted; on April 3, 1936, he went to his death still protesting his innocence, refusing a last-second commutation of sentence in exchange for a confession. Fisher spins a good real-life crime yarn and builds a strong circumstantial case for Hauptmann's guilt--but the man himself is still an enigma, the question of accomplices is never convincingly answered, and the case remains a mystery.
Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1987
Page Count: -
Publisher: Rutgers Univ. Press
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1987
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