The "double Indemnity" Murder

The "double Indemnity" Murder

Ruth Snyder, Judd Gray, and New York's Crime of the Century

Book - 2006
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Baker & Taylor
Few incidents in crime history have been as notorious—yet mundane—as the 1927 murder of Queens suburbanite Albert Snyder by his wife and her lover. Resonant of the footloose Jazz Age, it made persistent headlines and led to a sensational trial, spawning a 1920s Broadway play and the classic noir film of the 1940s: Double Indemnity. This book assesses the entire case, from grisly slaying and shabby cover-up to sharp police work and aftermath. Moreover, it explores sociocultural questions that beg to be answered: what effect does news reportage exert upon high profile cases, and why did such a transparent crime earn such an enduring place in the popular psyche?

Book News
Investigation documents and photographs related to the 1927 murder of Albert Snyder by his wife Ruth and her lover Judd Gray have been mostly destroyed because of their antiquity. Mackeller offers his telling of the ordeal, as gleaned from trial transcripts, periodicals, interviews, city records, letters, a detective log, and earlier books on the topic. The murder inspired the book-turned-noir film titled Double Indemnity, and was later interpreted in the film Body Heat. This book reads like a novel and employs artistic license in fleshing out the moments that were not logged, as in the first chapter describing the crime, where dialogue of unclear source is abundant. The second chapter details the trial, wherein the two accused invent indictments of the other. This chapter also portrays the popular and media frenzy that accompanied the trial. The two were eventually sentenced to be executed at Sing Sing prison, and the final chapter describes their last days and the public's response. The appendix offers brief biographies of personalities in the book and discusses questions of motive that may remain unanswered. Annotation ©2007 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

Publisher: Syracuse, N.Y. : Syracuse University Press, c2006
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780815608240
Characteristics: vii, 411 p. : ill. ; 23 cm

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FW_librarian Jun 19, 2015

Amazing how much our police-investigations and legal processes have developed in the last 100 years. If you don't think they have, read this nonfiction book - the story is so unbelievable, it edges on the absurd. If you're a believer in capital punishment and although the murder is horribly violent, you can't help but want to stop the executions in the end. It's a book I didn't want to finish and had to skim the last part because it was sadly and pathetically horrific for me to read.


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