The remarkable true story of a turn-of-the-19th century murder and the trial that ensued—a showdown in which iconic political rivals Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr joined forces to make sure justice was served—from bestselling author of the Edgar finalist, Murder of the Century.
In the closing days of 1799, the United States was still a young republic. Waging a fierce battle for its uncertain future were two political parties: the well-moneyed Federalists, led by Alexander Hamilton, and the populist Republicans, led by Aaron Burr. The two finest lawyers in New York, Burr and Hamilton were bitter rivals both in and out of the courtroom, and as the next election approached, their animosity reached a crescendo.
But everything changed when a young Quaker woman, Elma Sands, was found dead in Burr's newly constructed Manhattan Well. The horrific crime quickly gripped the nation, and before long accusations settled on one of Elma’s suitors: a handsome young carpenter named Levi Weeks. As the enraged city demanded a noose be draped around his neck, Week's only hope was to hire a legal dream team. And thus it was that New York’s most bitter political rivals and greatest attorneys did the unthinkable—they teamed up.
Our nation’s longest running cold case, Duel with the Devil delivers the first substantial break in the case in over 200 years. At once an absorbing legal thriller and an expertly crafted portrait of the United States in the time of the Founding Fathers, Duel with the Devil is a masterpiece of narrative nonfiction.
NPR's "literary detective" once again applies his skills as a historian to a now-obscure crime that was a cause c l bre in its day. With a novelist's touch, Collins (The Murder of the Century) opens with the January 1800 discovery of a woman's body in a Manhattan well, before flashing back six months to provide the back-story to that grim find. The victim proves to be Elma Sands, a Quaker woman who had disappeared from her lodging house under circumstances that led authorities to suspect carpenter and fellow boarder Levi Weeks. Fortunately for Weeks, his defense fell to two of the most prominent and skilled lawyers of the day bitter political rivals Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, whose later fatal duel casts a somber pall over the suspenseful account of the crime, the trial, and its aftermath. Using the court transcript as a primary source, Collins makes the most of the inherent drama of the case, and goes one step further to unearth convincing proof of the identity of the real killer.
Duel with the Devil
This is an excellent rendering of a forgotten piece of Americana centered around two of the Founders of the USA. Great story; great mystery; great read!