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The Mystery of Mary Rogers (A Treasury of Victorian Murder) Hardcover – February 1, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Geary (Jack the Ripper) adds to his Treasury of Victorian Murder series, this time retelling a true tale of the disappearance and murder of Mary Cecilia Rogers, which prompted a media frenzy in 1840s New York. Rogers sold cigars in a tobacco store that catered to many of the city's illustrious characters, including Tammany Hall politicos, authors James Fenimore Cooper and Washington Irving, and, most particularly, Edgar Allen Poe, who was so intrigued by the mystery that he wrote a novel based on the story and offered his own theories about the murder. With her "natural vivacity" and "dark smile," Rogers was popular and had many admirers. But after her bruised and bound corpse was found floating in the Hudson, a rushed investigation and hasty burial led to rampant speculation about her character and her murder. There were rumors of a botched abortion and accusations pointing to gangs of ruffians or spurned lovers some observers even suggested that the body wasn't Mary Rogers's at all. Geary comes up with his own twist on the mystery and manages to capture the spirit of a booming and boisterous New York City in the 1840s, a city without a full-time police force at a time when bodies turned up in the city's rivers regularly. Drawing on news accounts of the time and the many fictional accounts surrounding the case, Geary's retelling is detailed and well researched, and his impressive black-and-white drawings depict Victorian New York with great care. The book includes a bibliography and several maps of Manhattan and the Jersey Shore.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School-This is the "Chronicle of the Disappearance and Murder of `The Beautiful Segar Girl' in July, 1841-a crime which was never solved-and which inspired the sensational tale by Edgar A. Poe." It was not so much Mary's murder that was sensational-bodies were often found floating in the river-but the fact that the victim, who worked in a popular cigar store, had an unusually wide acquaintance among the "gentlemen" of the city. With many suspects and loose ends, each new piece of evidence only seemed to muddy the case further, and Geary tells this twisting and fascinating story with remarkable clarity. His compelling art brings the time and place to life; the black-and-white drawings, varying in style to suit his points, lead readers to discover underlying human truths and predicaments that they will recognize as timeless, even as they marvel at the strangeness of the past. The effect is an undertone of creepiness in which any of a number of equally appalling scenarios (and even one happy ending) might have occurred; readers are left to decide upon a solution. Those familiar with today's New York and the New Jersey shore should be particularly fascinated by Geary's maps and evocations of the area's past. YAs susceptible to a good mystery or true-crime story should relish this book. With its commendable historical accuracy, it would also enliven studies of U.S. history.

Christine C. Menefee, Fairfax County Public Library, VA

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Series: A Treasury of Victorian Murder
  • Hardcover: 80 pages
  • Publisher: NBM Publishing (February 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1561632740
  • ISBN-13: 978-1561632749
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 0.6 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.7 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #402,742 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Brian Almquist on September 29, 2002
Format: Paperback
It is very unusual for antebellum New York to get any sort of treatment in popular culture, which is a shame, because the whole space between the Revolutionary War and the Civil War features dramatic changes in the city's popular landscape. Institutions for maintaining public order and safety that we take for granted today were less organized and often appropriated by the underworld for its own purposes.
Scorsese's upcoming movie, GANGS OF NEW YORK, looks like it will offer an interesting look into this time. Readers looking for a little less bombast can take in Rick Geary's tight little graphic exploration of THE MYSTERY OF MARY ROGERS. Geary tells the true tale of a corpse that captured the public imagination in a manner similar to any of today's celebrity victims. He renders useful maps and recreates the known facts of the case with haunting sillhouettes and faces that are remarkably expressive in their cartoonishness. Geary also tosses in a tidy little chunk of social history -- so that we understand the context -- and chronicles the sensationalism that followed this case. As a final service, he puts forth the prominent theories about the case, noting its inspiration of Poe's mystery.
Graphic (as in illustrated) non-fiction is somewhat of an oddity, often represented by simpering auto-bio. True crime stories tend to show up in the BIG BOOK OF ... series. This, however, is a neat and stylistic volume that would put Anne Rule to shame.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Eric Oppen on November 16, 2001
Format: Paperback
In 1841, Mary Rogers, a well-known resident of the city of New York, was found floating in the Hudson River, dead. The investigation was hampered by jurisdictional disputes and the primitive forensic science of the time, and is officially still unsolved. It was a great stir in its day, and everybody had opinions about it; Edgar Allen Poe based his "Mystery of Marie Roget" on it. Geary gives us the known facts, and proposes a solution in line with the modern thinking on the subject. His evocative artwork makes this book a visual treat. I'd love to see him tackle the alleged murder of Sarah M. Cornell by the Reverend Ephraim K. Avery; it occured at nearly the same time this case did, and is still officially unsolved.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on May 20, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Mary Rogers was a lovely cigar store clerk who was found dead and floating on the Hudson River. It was the month of July, 1841, a time before New York City had an official police department, only "freelance" officers living off fines and defending the populace from a proliferation of street gangs. All this is the highly recommended substance of The Mystery Of Mary Rogers, a superbly created graphic novel with absolutely accurate background detail that accurately showcases the an emerging city and the plight of a citizenry in the face of criminal activities. Rick Geary is a master storyteller and a gifted artist.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Daniel V. Reilly VINE VOICE on April 21, 2002
Format: Hardcover
With The Mystery of Mary Rogers, Writer/Illustrator Rick Geary continues his "Treasury of Victorian Murder" Graphic Novel series, this time exploring the facts in the death of Mary Rogers, a well-known "Segar (Cigar) Girl" (She worked in a large Manhattan Tobacco Shop).
Geary's books are laid out incredibly well; most "Mainstream" non-fiction writers could learn a thing or two from him. He presents THE FACTS in the case, and since the murder was nevr really solved (At least officially...), he avoids any supposition; At the end of the book, he gives the reader a few scenarios that MAY have happened, never presenting any one of them as the actual solution. Geary's writing style is very informative, and his illustrations have a depth and resonance that belie their "Cartoony" look.
Overall, this book is a pleasure to read! The hardcover is a very attractive package at a low price, the text is informative and illuminating, and the artwork is superb. In a perfect world, Geary would be a fixture on the best-seller lists.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sam Quixote TOP 1000 REVIEWER on May 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover
On 28 July, 1841 a woman's body was found floating in the Hudson, off the shore of Hoboken, New Jersey. She'd been dead for a few days after being beaten and strangled. She was identified as Mary Rogers, the missing girl who worked in a popular cigar shop on Broadway. And so this strange story begins.

We meet the odd people in her life. Her fiancé who makes up an alibi different from his real story despite neither being incriminating. Her mother who reacts bizarrely to the news that her daughter is dead. The former lodger of her mother's house who had meetings with Mary in the days leading up to her death and then tried to have the investigation stopped for no reason.

Geary throws all of the murder's theories into the book. The murder suspects include: a jealous ex-lover returning from a sea voyage and who becomes angry once his advances are repelled; an abortion gone wrong leads the abortionist faking Mary's death; the fiancé, once the abortion is complete, finds out that Mary wants to leave him and loses his temper.

In fact this last theory (and I've only mentioned three though there are more) is the most compelling, not least because the fiancé drinks himself unconscious every day until he eventually visits the spot where she was supposedly murdered and takes a lethal dose of laudanum.

Even Edgar Allan Poe is a suspect (though unlikely) as his sequel to The Murders in the Rue Morgue was based on the mysterious death of Mary Rogers, becoming The Mystery of Marie Roget. The short story bears many resemblances to the real life case but of course Poe is never really seen as a suspect having barely known the girl years earlier when he lived in New York (he was in Philadelphia at the time of the murder).
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