Are sex and violence the two basic ingredients of good movies (`Introduction')? Or basic to any drama? Violent and predatory behavior are part of human nature. Camden is one of America's most dangerous cities for violent crime (murder and robbery). [Is this caused by its poverty and population density?] This book lists some of the famous criminal cases in NJ. Chapter 1 provides an overview of crime since the 17th century. The author repeats the legend that the stock market crash of October 1929 caused "devastating financial difficulties". Actually, the drop in prices for agricultural products in 1921 led to the stock market crash. Just as the current financial difficulties were the result of lost jobs and income since 2006.
Chapter 2 presents the story of the Lindbergh Kidnapping. One of the ransom notes was linked to Bruno R. Hauptmann, who was convicted of the crime and executed. Some disputed the conviction (p.29). Chapter 3 tells of the murder of the List family by the father! The author writes of a ".9 millimeter automatic" pistol (p.38). John E. List wrote a confession (p.39). The TV show "America's Most Wanted" featured the List murders, and this led to his capture. List received five consecutive life terms (p.43). Chapter 4 tells about a killer shoemaker from Philadelphia who took his twelve year old son with him for robbery and murder to NJ. A discarded man's shirt identified the killer. Chapter 5 tells of the murder of Maria Marshall due to "lust and greed". Robert Marshall hired men from out of state to kill his wife, long distance records created a trail. A legal technicality changed the death sentence to life in prison.
Chapter 6 tells about organized crime, the big corporations that replaced small businesses (p.78). NJ "had long been a haven for illegal activity of all sorts" (p.80). Does organized crime profit from non-union labor (p.83)? Does the Mafia exert influence over the stock market (p.87)? [That could explain a lot of the swindles.] The death of a young child shocked the nation in July 1994 (Chapter 7). Suspicion fell on a neighbor who was a paroled sex offender. This led to "Megan's Law", where sex offenders are required to register with the local police. These predators are more likely to be family relatives or friends instead of strangers (p.96). Chapter 8 tells about Law Enforcement, the police officers who respond at all hours under all conditions. This is an entertaining overview, not a history book. The political history on page 103 is incomplete. NJ was called "the traitor state" because is licensed holding companies (corporations that owned stock in other corporations) which every other state banned. Concentrated economic power is always harmful to democracy. Harold Hoffman created the first state sales tax in the 1930s, it was later abolished. NJ had no sales tax until 1965.
The Bibliography lists volumes that go into more detail. Missing are histories of the state (which omit true crime). NJ was the only northern state that didn't vote for Lincoln in 1860 and 1864. The big landowners of NJ and their attorneys controlled state government since the 18th century.
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This book was really exciting. I was always interested in Forensics and true stories of investigation. I had this book read in three days it was so good. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in this field.
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