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The Hall-Mills Murder Case: The Minister and the Choir Singer Paperback – September 1, 1980
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Curiously, in his earlier Oceana Publications book (New York: 1960) First Degree, Kunstler hints strongly at the guilt of Jim Mills. And Boswell and Thompson, on page 24 of The Girl in Lover's Lane, casually dismiss the answer for which Kunstler earnestly argues. They also hint that the vestryman Ralph Gorsline knew more than he told; unfortunately, Gorsline had died by the time they assembled their story. Barring an unlikely disclosure--e. g., a word from one of the Mills descendants, a diary by the murderer, or a contemporary report that contains fresh data, the Hall-Mills case will probably always be unsettling and unresolved, so it seems unlikely that any solution could be more convincing than Kunstler's, however disappointing it may be.
This well-written book lacks an index, but lists the people involved. Part I tells about the events of 1922. After the murders no indictments occurred! Part II tells of the events in 1926. A divorce action against the former Hall's maid alleged a pay-off to keep quiet. The NY Daily Mirror publicized this, and NJ Governor Moore ordered a new investigation. Four indictments followed. Part III tells of the five weeks of trial; all were found not guilty. The murders were never solved. In Part IV Kunstler fantasizes about it being a Klan killing. No proof is given, he only argues by analogy. No group of men were seen there. I wonder if this is part of a whitewash? There is no mention of public opinion from these times.
The Reverend Hall married Frances Stevens, 37 years old, a few years before she inherited millions (with her brothers). Around this time Mrs. Eleanor Mills became active in church affairs. Married at 17, perhaps to escape an unhappy home life, she soon had two children. She sought the mirage of happiness in closeness to her minister. But this minister married for money; love was a secondary concern. Their meetings were not secret from their close associates.
On Thursday September 14, 1922 Mrs. Mills read an article justifying divorce for a minister. She cut it out and called Reverend Hall for a meeting; he soon left to meet her. Mrs. Mills boarded a trolley then walked to De Russey's Lane. Reverend Hall left his house by 7:30PM and was seen walking to this location. They were never seen alive again. Saturday morning 9-16-1922 a young couple went for a walk down De Russey's Lane and turned into a grassy path. They found two bodies near a crabapple tree, then ran to Easton Ave to call the police.Read more ›
Still, its step-by-step account of one of our most-interesting unsolved crimes is must-read stuff for those who value their true-crimers; it's hard to believe these murders occurred almost 87 years ago, and it IS hard to believe specifically because of Kunstler's approach to the materials: that same staid, step-by-step, by-the-book, chronological construction which makes the book less than a page-turner, in fact cements it firmly in place as, at the least, a historical cornerstone, an important source (though see below in re: index, bibliography, etc.).
Having been written just prior to the new wave of true crime writing ushered in by Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood," this subject-material could certainly do with an updated version. It's disappointing that Kunstler himself didn't do a stylistic revision before publishing the book in 1980. Kunstler spends only 17 of the book's 334 pages in offering, in a tacked-on chapter at the end of the tome, his opinion about who the murderers were, and I'm afraid his "the Klan did it" solution is totally unsatisfying and even bizarre, especially because nowhere in the book's first 300+ pages is this idea dealt with, save for one or two mentions-in-passing, at all, and certainly not at length. Obviously, editors at Rutgers Press requested Kunstler to present a plausible solution to the case before agreeing to publish the book, and this was what Kunstler came up with.
Sorry, but no.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Fabulous story told in an accessible but detailed manner by a skilled writer, Mr. K. Recommend it to anyone interested on both the case and the life and times of America in the... Read morePublished 4 months ago by kathy moult-applewhite
This account of the notorious still-unsolved1922 murder case is about as comprehensive and detailed as can be imagined. Read morePublished on September 12, 2010 by Rick Geary
...have very different meanings. William Kunstler was a hero to me; that's an awful thing for a conservative Republican Nixon supporter to say. Read morePublished on August 12, 2007 by Robert C. Hufford
I was looking to buy the definitive book on this crime and found, via the "Acute Observer" analytical commentary, that the only way to get the whole story is to buy both the... Read morePublished on October 12, 2006 by Linda Lou
Kunstler wildly speculative conclusion: the Klan committed the murders. No evidence for this at all, but he doesn't want that to get in the way of blaming the vast right wing... Read morePublished on October 24, 2004 by R. Cannata
What was the cause of those murders? Why did it occur then, when the affair was going on for years? I have a suggested solution. Read morePublished on February 13, 2003
This well-written book lacks an index, but lists the people involved. Part I tells about the events of 1922. After the murders no indictments occurred! Read morePublished on October 7, 2002 by Acute Observer
In chapter eight of THE RIGHT TO DIE by Rex Stout, Nero Wolfe is reading this book on his assistant's recommendation. Read morePublished on December 30, 2000 by Ann E. Nichols
How lucky we are that this great book is in print. Filled with illicit sex, political self-seekers, hapless prosecutors, inept police investigations, it could be today's news. Read morePublished on July 23, 1999 by DJ Rix