A lighthearted, informative take on rather grim events.




A debut set of true crime essays explores San Francisco’s dark side.

Drexler wrote the column “Notorious Crooks” for the Sunday San Francisco Examiner from 2014 to 2018 and runs walking tours of the area’s crime hot spots. In this work, he collects bizarre, seedy tales of notorious culprits and unsolved mysteries, covering a century from the 1870s through the 1980s. The infamous characters surveyed include Juanita “Duchess” Spinelli, a “modern-day Fagin” who ran a crime school and was “the first woman to be executed in California”; obese “gambling czar” Elmer “Bones” Remmer; and Dorothy Ellingson, who in 1925 killed her mother for threatening to send her to reform school—her insanity plea failed. The press blamed cars and music for the 16-year-old’s degeneracy, branding her a “Jazzmaniac.” Drexler takes readers on a sprightly tour through the car thefts and holdups of the Terror Bandits, attempted jailbreaks (both Folsom Prison and San Quentin are in the general vicinity), murders, and more. The stories of female criminals feel less familiar and thus tend to stand out, especially those of Inez Burns, an abortionist who performed as many as 30 procedures a week and was rumored to have had Rita Hayworth as a patient, and Sally Stanford, who ran a speak-easy and then a brothel. The disparity in how these two women fared says something about the shifting morality of the 20th century. While Burns, whose services had formerly been considered a “necessary evil,” was indicted in 1946, serving two years in prison and paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in back taxes, Stanford went on to run for the Sausalito City Council (she won on her sixth attempt) and was later elected mayor. A longer, final section deftly focuses on the Zodiac Killer case, which Drexler (who has appeared on television as an expert on the crimes) calls “the most famous unsolved murder mystery of modern times.” The author makes good use of primary sources such as court transcripts, providing an appropriate level of detail that never seems gratuitous or overly sordid. Black-and-white photographs are provided for many of the historical figures discussed.

A lighthearted, informative take on rather grim events.

Pub Date: June 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-987902-55-6

Page Count: 225

Publisher: RJ Parker Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2019

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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