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Alchemy of Bones: Chicago's Luetgert Murder Case of 1897 Hardcover – August 12, 2003


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press; 1St Edition edition (August 12, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0252028589
  • ISBN-13: 978-0252028588
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,591,991 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Thanks to Robert Loerzel this fascinating case comes to life to show forensic scientists and investigators how much has changed (and hasn't changed) in the one hundred years since it captured the nation's attention."--Journal of Forensic Science

 



"Loerzel has done an impeccable research job and tells the story as if he were a fly on the wall."--CBA Records



"Alchemy of Bones is an exceptional example of the true-crime genre."--Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society

About the Author

Robert Loerzel is an associate editor at Pioneer Press, which publishes newspapers in the suburbs of Chicago. He has received many awards for investigative reporting and feature stories from the Illinois Press Association, the Chicago Headline Club, and the Northern Illinois Newspaper Association.


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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By D. Tegtmeier on September 4, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a descendant of the murder victim, I was contacted by the author and contributed what little I could toward his research. Of course, Mr. Loerzel contributed far more to my family tree research. Others had written about this case but I was never impressed with their results. It's difficult to make a good case or write a good story if most of the evidence is circumstantial. They didn't have DNA testing back then, so the few bone fragments that were recovered were never conclusively proven to be those of Louise Bicknese Luetgert. So, where is all the evidence from that trial? No one knows or remembers what's become of it. I'm hoping this book will bring enough attention to this case that someone out there will stumble upon those bits and pieces of evidence stowed away for decades in the attic of the old family home. If any story about this murder can help accomplish that, it's this one. It's written in the style of some of the best murder mystery novels.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Harvey Prinz on June 2, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Robert Loerzel has crafted a marvelous work based on the successful German immigrant sausage maker, Adolph Luetgert's turn of fortune when his wife, Louise, disappears. No body was found, but it fueled one of the nation's early media frenzies. The story takes us inside crime scene work before CSI and DNA. For those interested in German immigrant history as I am, many wonderful sub-plots portray their lives in Chicago. The German American Heritage Center has selected this for our Book Discussion Group this year.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By G. Anderson on April 17, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Robert Loerzel's true crime story from the years just after the Columbian Exposition in Chicago (setting for Devil in the White City) succeeds in providing something for almost everybody: the tension of a great crime/mystery novel, the pleasure of well-researched and well-written history, and the fascinating, complex characters of the best novels. (Julian Hawthorne, son of the vaunted Nathaniel, comes across here as the 1897 version of Bill O'Reilly!) You don't have to be from Chicago to enjoy Alchemy of Bones, but those readers familiar with the city will recognize some of the names, places, and attitudes. Don't miss this one.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Borowy26 VINE VOICE on July 5, 2008
Format: Paperback
Although I was familiar with the basic facts and the grisly details of the notorious Luetgert murder case, Robert Loerzel's account of the crime investigation and the two murder trials provided more information and analysis regarding the disappearance of Louise Luetgert and the subsequent arrest of her husband, sausage manufacturer Adolph Luetgert, for her murder than I had ever read about previously. I was totally unaware of the fact that the wire service reports from the courthouse caused the case to become a national sensation as well as a local scandal.

Loerzel conducted extensive research and I cannot imagine that much more could be added to expand upon his yeoman efforts. Since the crimes took place in Lakeview, which was than one of the leading German American communities in Chicago, Loerzel took the time to summarize news accounts of the sensational murder trial which were published in German language newspapers such as "The Staats Zeitung" and "The Abendpost" as well as in the city's English language dailies. The book is well researched and thoroughly documented. It is clear that Loerzel took great care in translating German language court testimony into English. This is not always a simple matter.

Many of the locations in this book have been torn down, but several remain. The former Criminal Courts Building on Illinois Street is now the site of private law offices, but the old jail annex has been demolished. One wonders if any of the young urban professionals residing in their converted condominium lofts at Diversey and Hermitage realize that the rehabilitated factory building in which they reside was once the scene of one of the most gruesome crime investigations in Chicago history?
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kurt A. Johnson TOP 1000 REVIEWER on March 14, 2013
Format: Paperback
Spike Madden (played by Victor McLaglen) is a sailor who likes the ladies. (OK, what sailor doesn't?) But, now he finds that every port he sails into, the girl he meets is already wearing something from another sailor - the symbol of a heart and an anchor. When he finally tracks down this oceangoing Casanova, he finds that the man, Salami (Robert Armstrong), is actually quite likable. Before you know it, the two become fast friends.

But, Spike is thinking about settling down. So when he meets Mam'selle Godiva (Louise Brooks), a strikingly beautiful young woman, he decides that she's the one he's been waiting for. Salami wants to save Spike from himself, but how does he tell him that the woman he thinks is so innocent and pure is a scheming gold-digger that Salami has known for years?

This is a nice old "buddy flick," two guys against the world. The best part is that the star is none other than Victor McLaglen, who played Squire Danaher in The Quiet Man, and appeared in many other John Wayne movies! Louise Brooks is...well, Louise Brooks! Sporting her trademark bobbed hair, and shows off the smoldering sexuality that made her such an icon of the `20s.

Yeah, this is a very good film. Perhaps it has no social commentary, or special claims on history, but it is a fun and interesting silent movie, and I recommend it!
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