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What did Murder, Inc call itself?

What did Murder, Inc call itself?


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My understanding is that the "Murder, Inc" moniker was invented by the media, and the actual organization never used that name.


Tl;dr

Based on reports in declassified FBI files and contemporary reports in the US media, it seems likely that the members of "Murder, Inc." referred to themselves as "the Combination", although we will probably never be able to be entirely certain about this.


I'm not sure that it is possible at this distance to say with absolute certainty what the members of "Murder, Inc." called themselves - if, indeed, they had any internal name at all. It may very well be that the sources simply do not exist.

However, given that caveat, we can certainly say something about how "Murder, Inc." was known to different groups, in particular to journalists and to members of US law-enforcement, and what those groups believed the members of "Murder, Inc." called themselves. We also have some reports from witnesses and informants who stated that the group was known to them as "the Combination".


It seems clear from information in the file about Abe Reles, released by the FBI under the United States Freedom of Information Act, that law enforcement agencies had already adopted the term "Murder, Inc." to refer to the group as early as June 1940.

A few months later, in September 1940, Life magazine published an article about "Murder Inc.". In it they state that the syndicate was:

… known among its founders as "The Combination"

Perhaps unsurprisingly, under the circumstances, they did not cite their sources for this particular fact!

However, in a 1958 monograph about the history and activities (and, indeed the existence) of the Mafia, the FBI also said that:

"… witnesses revealed the existence of a vast criminal syndicate which the underworld referred to as the "Combination," and to which the press gave the appellation "Murder, Inc."

  • [Section II, p27]

On a related note, the monograph also mentions an early version of "Murder, Inc." that had been uncovered by police in 1921:

"… in the form of a Mafia gang which had been given the name "Good Killers". This group of assassins was suspected of some 125 unsolved murders of Italians in New York City, Pittsburgh, Detroit, and Chicago."

  • [Section II, p48]

So it seems that the FBI and contemporary journalists believed that the members of "Murder, Inc." called themselves "the Combination". We can also say that, based on the FBI file, this was the name that witnesses and informants provided to law enforcement agencies at that time.


Death in Dunwich, written by Ed Wimble, was Theatre of the Mind's first licensed adventure for Chaosium's Call of Cthulhu role-playing game. [1] The adventure begins as a murder mystery regarding an art dealer found dead in the town of Dunwich. [2] The book includes

  • the adventure
  • statistics for pre-generated characters
  • player handouts that can be photocopied
  • a page of text that was erroneously left out of the book before printing. [1]

Jon Sutherland reviewed Death in Dunwich for White Dwarf #48, giving it an overall rating of 8 out of 10, and stated that "Death in Dunwich can be interesting, frustrating and terminal and consequently is the better of the two [when compared to Arkham Evil]." [3]

In the November 1984 edition of Dragon (Issue #91), Ken Rolston thought that Call of Cthulhu lent itself to murder mysteries better than any other role-playing game, but found issue with the organization of this adventure, and noted that no summary or chronology of the adventure is provided for the referee. Rolston also criticized the fact that only bare statistics are given for pre-generated characters, with no background for the players to use. Despite these issues, Rolston called this "an excellent adventure and an example of what good role-playing mystery should be. The theme is imaginative and engaging. The narrative is a sequence of well-developed episodes with many clues and false leads, with important informants who must be discovered and interrogated, and with a wealth of evidence — police reports, newspaper articles, and NPC testimonials — that must be sifted for significance by the players." Rolston praised the macabre elements that "are contrasted nicely against the mundane setting of a rural New England town." He concluded with a strong recommendation, saying, "Though the weaknesses in presentation in Death in Dunwich are unfortunate, they are understandable, given the particular problems of designing, organizing, and presenting role-playing mystery adventures. The mystery itself is detailed, challenging, and dramatic. The horror is satisfactorily evil and gruesome in the style, and the setting, background, and characters are effectively detailed." [1]

Richard Lee reviewed Death in Dunwich for Imagine magazine, and stated that "Unfortunately, there are two major failings. Firstly, DiD is very short. For [the price] you expect more than this single-facet plot. Secondly, the atmosphere is wrong. DiD, one feels, is more influenced by low-budget horror films than by Lovecraft. What use is a Cthulhu supplement where the paranormal is the flaw of the story?! Overall, I'm afraid, the adventure left me cold." [4]

In the March-April 1985 edition of Space Gamer (Issue No. 73), Matthew J. Costello found the price of the book ($8) to be a bit high, but nonetheless gave a thumbs up, saying, "I recommend Death in Dunwich for players with a bit of experience and tact who are ready to concentrate on a murder mystery instead of the Cthulhu mythos. There might be a problem if you feel [the price] is too much for one day of play, but you do get background material as well as the adventure itself." [2]


Murder Inc. Was the Enforcement Arm of the Mob&rsquos Oversight Body, &ldquoThe Commission&rdquo

Lucky Luciano brought the &ldquoBoss of All Bosses&rdquo era to an end by arranging the murders of the rival Castellamarese War leaders, Joe Masseria and Salvatore Maranzano. He then set out to end the old Sicilian mafia regime, and establish rule by consensus for the new crime families. He began by abolishing the position and title of capo di tutti capi, or Boss of All Bosses &ndash from then on, the Italian-American mafia would have no single overlord. Instead, the committee known as The Commission would regulate the American mob, with Murder Inc. as the instrument for enforcing its writ.

The Commission consisted of the five NYC crime families, the Buffalo family, and the Chicago Outfit. Over the years, the makeup changed, but the basic concept of a committee comprised of America&rsquos most powerful mafia families stayed the same. Today, it is made of the five NYC families and the Chicago Outfit, while the Buffalo family has been replaced by that of Philadelphia.

Gang wars did not completely disappear with the formation of The Commission. However, The Commission, and its Murder Inc. regulators, did lessen the frequency and intensity of gang wars, by making crime families think twice before starting a war. An aggressor family could find itself dealing not only with its immediate rival, but with The Commission, its Murder Inc. hitmen, and other families as well. That was a strong incentive to negotiate instead of resort to violence. When wars did break out, The Commission often sent in Murder Inc. to murder the offending leadership, then appointed new leaders.

The Commission met frequently, until 1985, when the last meeting attended by all bosses in person was held. Afterwards, things became too hot, as the US government finally went after the mob seriously, with vigorous investigations and successful prosecutions of its leaders. In such an environment, direct meetings between bosses became too risky, and from then on the Commission worked through cutouts.


Season Episodes Originally aired Network
Season premiere Season finale
1 16 11 August 1997 23 November 1997 Nine Network
2 20 7 July 1998 24 November 1998
3 20 21 April 1999 9 October 2000

Series 1 (1997) Edit

Starring: Lucy Bell, Peter Mochrie, Geoff Morrell, Glenda Linscott, Jennifer Kent and Gary Day.

Guest Stars: David McCubbin, Jane Harders, Roslyn Oades, Inge Hornstra, Jane Flanders, Dale Pengelly.

Guest Stars: Bob Baines, Rebecca Hobbs, Frank Whitten, Nicholas Holland, Craig Blair, Peter Cameron, John Andrews, Katrina Sklavos, Stewart Armstrong, Tony Girdler.

Series 2 (1998) Edit

Guest Stars: Barry Otto, Malcolm Kennard, Sam Wilcox, Carole Skinner, Fiona Mahl, Emily Dawe, Damon Herriman, Nick Belomis, Sue Moses, Chris King, Rudi Baker, Todd Dwyer, Tahnee Stroet, Jan Merriman, Kelly Crauer, Richard O'Brien, Gabrielle Link, Greg Marchant, Anthony Hunt.

Guest Stars: Barry Otto, Malcolm Kennard, Sam Wilcox, Carole Skinner, Fiona Mahl, Emily Dawe, Damon Herriman, Nick Belomis, Sue Moses, Chris King, Rudi Baker, Todd Dwyer, Tahnee Stroet, Jan Merriman, Kelly Crauer, Richard O'Brien, Gabrielle Link, Greg Marchant, Anthony Hunt.

Guest Stars: Betty Lucas, Joe James, Elspeth MacTavish, Christopher Pitman, Raechelle Lee, Nick Jones, Andrew Vial.


The Last Temptation Of Mark Hofmann

Wikimedia Commons In 1834, Mormons found the bones of “Zelph” — who Smith said was an ancient “Lamanite” American — at Naples-Russel Mound 8 in Illinois. The mound is now recognized as a burial site of Native Americans of the Hopewell Culture.

A two-year period of overseas missionary work is common for young Mormon men. And so when he was 19 years old, Mark Hofmann’s mission took him to Bristol, England.

While there, whenever he wasn’t doing official work, he was looking for old books about Mormonism. He seemed especially interested in critical texts, such as No Man Knows My History by Fawn Brodie, a skeptical biography about Smith that treats the Mormons’ founding prophet as a charlatan.

In these books, Hofmann was likely to encounter embarrassing stories like the skeleton that Mormons dug up from a mysterious burial mound in Illinois in 1834. As the story goes, Smith named the skeleton “Zelph” and composed an elaborate history for the ancient “Lamanite” American.

Today, it’s now known that the mound is actually a burial site of Native Americans of the Hopewell Culture — and had nothing to do with the ancient peoples described by Smith. Hofmann probably wouldn’t have learned this story when he was younger.

Chances are, this was also around the same time when Hofmann first encountered a disturbing theory about the origins of the Book of Mormon — which he would eventually attempt to support through his forgeries.

For some Mormon believers, the best evidence for the Book of Mormon’s authenticity as scripture — the word of God presented by the angel Moroni and translated by Smith — is the fact it is too long and complex for the uneducated Smith to have come up with himself.

The “Spalding-Rigdon Theory” also accepts that basic premise — but for a far darker reason. Proponents of this theory suggest that Smith’s friend and early follower Sidney Rigdon stole an unpublished novel, which was about lost mound-building civilizations. This book was said to have been written by a deceased writer named Solomon Spalding. And Rigdon and Smith allegedly decided to pass it off as scripture.

Most LDS members make a choice about Mormonism once they encounter these stories and theories. If they believe the Book of Mormon is real and that Joseph Smith is a prophet, then they discount the accusations and either try to refute them or never read them again.

Wikimedia Commons Mormonism Unvailed was one of many anti-Mormon publications that came out during the 19th century.

But if they think the accusations are true, then they probably believe that Joseph Smith was a liar and that Mormonism was started as a con. This conclusion may contribute to an estimated 36 percent of Americans born into the Mormon Church leaving it as adults (though that number is lower than adults leaving the Catholic Church, according to the same study).

Hofmann had a very distinct reaction upon discovering these assertions.

He had already lost his faith around the age of 14. At some point, he had also discovered that his grandfather had practiced polygamy — which made him angry. So Hofmann’s continued participation in the church was largely out of social pressure, not personal interest. In England, this clearly changed as he became deeply interested in material that was skeptical of Mormonism.

The question of Smith’s sincerity did not seem to bother Hofmann. If anything, replacing the church’s idealized portrait of the prophet with a crafty, young huckster probably made the Mormon founder more relatable.

Instead, Hofmann’s feelings hardened against the church itself — and the people whom he felt parroted the religion and covered up any unsavory aspects of the church’s origins. That, at least, was the reason he eventually gave for targeting the LDS Church and its leadership with his crimes.


Did the KGB murder Albert Camus?

The Death of Camus
By Giovanni Catelli (translated by Andrew Tanzi)
Hurst and Company, 2020, $29.53, 184 pp.

After Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus was perhaps France’s most prominent philosophical writer of the 20 th century, winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957, and producing masterpieces such as The Stranger and The Plague, as well as actively contributing to the moral and political issues of the day.

Camus died on January 4, 1960, when the car he was in swerved at high speed and slammed into a plane tree on a highway leading to Paris. Camus, who sat in the front passenger seat, was killed instantly, and the driver, his publisher Michel Gallimard, died a few days later in hospital. Fortunately, Gallimard’s family, sitting in the back, escaped relatively unharmed.

A train ticket to Paris was found in Camus’ pocket: he had changed his mind about how to get to Paris almost at the last minute.

Catelli’s principal claim in this eloquently written and somewhat controversial book is that Camus was murdered by the KGB, who somehow contrived to have the tyre of the car blow out when the vehicle was travelling at high speed.

According to Catelli, they did this to silence Camus, who had been a prominent public critic of the Soviet Union for its suppression of the Hungarian revolution in 1956 and also a supporter of dissident writers such as Boris Pasternak. Although the book is absorbing and nicely written, it is wholly unconvincing.

It is based on a single page in a memoir by dissident Czech poet Jan Zabrana. Zabrana himself says that the man who told him that the KGB had murdered Camus wouldn’t reveal his source, and the rest of the considerations adduced by Catelli are entirely speculative: he speculates about who the source might have been but can produce no hard evidence, and the same goes for his account of the crash itself.

The KGB might have been able to tamper with the car when it was parked overnight outside a hotel, the KGB might have found out through a phone-tap that Camus was being driven to Paris rather than taking the train as originally planned, and so on and so on.

No evidence is produced to suggest that any of this was actually the case, and the book doesn’t even have references or footnotes, which are pretty much a must for a volume of this kind. Moreover, the main Soviet instigator of the murder is said to be Dmitri Shepilov, former minister of foreign affairs, who was angry at Camus for articles criticizing Shepilov for his involvement in the suppression of Hungary in 1956.

But Shepilov fell from grace in the Soviet hierarchy in 1957 when he supported an abortive coup against (then) Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. It’s hard to believe that he could have been in a position to have a prominent foreign writer murdered beyond the borders of the Soviet Union in 1960.

Catelli is also prone to political naivety. He says at one point that the only atrocity perpetrated by the United States that was comparable to the Soviet Union’s actions in Hungary in 1956 was the bloody overthrow of Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973.

It’s as if he’s never heard of Indonesia, Korea, the Vietnam War, and the long list of countries where the US intervened to overthrow or destabilise governments it regarded as suspect.


Hospitals accused of negligence in handling Cullen

Anthony Macri, who specializes in medical malpractice law, said institution after institution failed to share their suspicions that Cullen, who moved from one nursing job to the next over 16 years, may have killed patients.

"To me, it's both unethical and unbelievable that hospitals did not pass this information on," said Macri during a news conference at his office in Denville, N.J., Friday afternoon, adding that he believes there is a pervasive "conspiracy of silence" in the medical community.

Macri said he supports waiving the death penalty in exchange for Cullen providing information about the 30 to 40 patients he says he killed, a deal that Cullen's attorney has said is the only way his client will cooperate with authorities.

Cullen, 43, of Bethlehem, has been charged with the murder of one patient and the attempted murder of another for allegedly injecting them with potentially lethal doses of the heart medication digoxin at the Somerset Medical Center in Somerville, N.J. Those two cases are in addition to the three that Macri said he is now investigating.

Before his stint at Somerset, Cullen worked at every major hospital in the Lehigh Valley.

He was fired from several jobs, including one at Sacred Heart Hospital in Allentown, and was the subject of investigations at Easton Hospital, St. Luke's Hospital, Fountain Hill and Warren Hospital.

Officials at Lehigh Valley Hospital, St. Luke's Hospital and Sacred Heart Hospital declined to comment on Macri's statements. Officials at Warren Hospital could not be reached for comment.

Sue Ross, spokeswoman for Easton Hospital, said Community Health Systems, Inc. -- the hospital's owner -- would not be liable for any legal action filed in connection with the Cullen case, because Cullen worked there before the company took over.

Community Health Systems acquired Easton Hospital in August 2001 Cullen worked there from November 1998 to March 1999. Ross said the Two Rivers Health and Wellness Foundation, a nonprofit group that serves as a link between the hospital's former and current owners, could be held responsible.

Paul Brunswick, foundation president, said Two Rivers could be held liable for any malpractice or workers' compensation suit that happened prior to the sale. He declined to comment on specific cases involving Cullen's tenure at the hospital.

Macri said he is researching the deaths of three individuals who were admitted to Somerset Medical Center during the past year and subsequently died.

He declined to name the three but described them this way: One was a 68-year-old Morris County, N.J., man who was admitted for elective knee surgery. Another was a 75-year-old Somerset County, N.J., woman who was admitted for respiratory distress that was not life-threatening, and the third was an 81-year-old Somerset County, N.J., man with heart problems.

In each case, Macri said, the patients appeared to be doing well only to die suddenly. He said at least one of them, the 68-year-old man, had elevated levels of digoxin in his blood.

Macri said he did not know if Cullen was the primary nurse for any of the patients, but he said in two cases, family members remembered Cullen after seeing his face on television. None of the three patients were autopsied, and Macri said he would have their bodies exhumed if necessary.

He also said he has received about 20 additional calls from potential clients who are also concerned that Cullen may have killed their relatives at some of the other New Jersey hospitals where he worked.

Macri said even though the families he represents would like to see Cullen receive capital punishment if he did murder their relatives, they recognize that the death penalty is rarely carried out in New Jersey.

As a practical matter, Macri said, he has advised them it would be better for law enforcement officials to make a deal with Cullen so that he will share everything he knows.

In addition to helping people know how their loved ones died, Macri said, Cullen could also provide insight into how he was able to move from one institution to the next despite his work record.

Macri called on the hospitals to be open with information while at the same time expressing doubt that they would.

"I expect that we're going to be met with stonewalling all the way," he said.


Crime Fiction came to be recognised as a distinct literary genre, with specialist writers and a devoted readership, in the 19th century. Earlier novels and stories were typically devoid of systematic attempts at detection: There was a detective, whether amateur or professional, trying to figure out how and by whom a particular crime was committed there were no police trying to solve a case neither was there any discussion of motives, alibis, the modus operandi, or any of the other elements which make up the modern crime writing.

Early Arabic crime stories Edit

An early example of an Arabic-language crime story is "The Three Apples", one of the tales narrated by Scheherazade in the One Thousand and One Nights (Arabian Nights). In this tale, a fisherman discovers a heavy, locked chest along the Tigris river and he sells it to the Abbasid Caliph, Harun al-Rashid, who then has the chest broken open only to find inside it the dead body of a young woman who was cut into pieces. Harun orders his vizier, Ja'far ibn Yahya, to solve the crime and find the murderer within three days, or be executed if he fails his assignment. [1] The story has been described as a "whodunit" murder mystery [2] Unlike the modern crime fiction genre, no investigation is conducted, and the case is instead solved by two men confessing to the crime. The focus of the story shifts to the caliph's demand to find a slave blamed for having an affair with the woman, instigating her husband's crime of passion, but again no investigation is conducted. Ja'far learns the true story, and exonerates the slave, by chance.

Early Chinese crime stories Edit

Gong'an is a genre of Ming dynasty Chinese crime fiction that includes Bao Gong An (Chinese:包公案) and the 18th-century novel Di Gong An (Chinese:狄公案). The latter was translated into English as Dee Goong An (Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee) by Dutch sinologist Robert Van Gulik, who then used the style and characters to write an original Judge Dee series.

The hero of these novels is typically a traditional judge or similar official based on historical personages, such as Judge Bao (Bao Qingtian) or Judge Dee (Di Renjie). Although the historical characters may have lived in an earlier period (such as the Song or Tang dynasties), the novels are often set in the later Ming or Manchu period.

These novels differ from the Western genre in several points as described by van Gulik:

  • The detective is the local magistrate who is usually involved in several unrelated cases simultaneously.
  • The criminal is introduced at the start of the story, and his crime and reasons are carefully explained, thus constituting an inverted detective story rather than a "puzzle".
  • The stories have a supernatural element, with ghosts telling people about their deaths and even accusing the criminal.
  • The stories were filled with digressions into philosophy, the complete texts of official documents, and much more, making for very long books.
  • The novels tended to have a huge cast of characters, typically in the hundreds, all described as to their relation to the various main actors in the story.
  • Little time is spent on the details of how the crime was committed, but a great deal on the torture and execution of the criminals, even including their further torments in one of the various hells for the damned.

Van Gulik chose Di Gong An to translate because it was in his view closer to the Western tradition and more likely to appeal to non-Chinese readers.

Description of crimes and detectives Edit

Forerunners of today's crime fiction include the ghost story, the horror story, and the revenge story. Early examples of crime stories include Thomas Skinner Sturr's anonymous Richmond, or stories in the life of a Bow Street officer (1827), Steen Steensen Blicher's The Rector of Veilbye (1829), Philip Meadows Taylor's Confessions of a Thug (1839), and Maurits Christopher Hansen's "Mordet paa Maskinbygger Roolfsen" - The Murder of Engineer Roolfsen (1839).

An example of an early crime/revenge story is American poet and short-story writer Edgar Allan Poe's (1809–1849) tale "The Cask of Amontillado", published in 1846. [3] Poe created the first fictional detective [4] (a word unknown at the time) in the character of C. Auguste Dupin, [5] as the central character of some of his short stories (which he called "tales of ratiocination"). [4] In the words of William L. De Andrea (Encyclopedia Mysteriosa, 1994), he

was the first to create a character whose interest for the reader lay primarily (even solely) on his ability to find hidden truths. [. ] Poe seems to have anticipated virtually every important development to follow in the genre, from the idea of a lesser side-kick to the detective as narrator (later epitomised in the Dr. Watson of the Sherlock Holmes stories) to the concept of an armchair detective to the prototype of the secret-service story.

"Locked-room" mysteries Edit

One of the early developments started by Poe was the so-called locked-room mystery in "The Murders in the Rue Morgue". [6] Here, the reader is presented with a puzzle and encouraged to solve it before finishing the story and being told the solution.

These stories are so-called because they involve a crime—normally a murder—which takes place in a "locked room". In the simplest case, this is literally a hermetically sealed chamber, which to all appearances, no one could have entered or left at the time of the crime. More generally, it is any crime situation where—again, to all appearances—someone must have entered or left the scene of the crime, yet it was not possible for anyone to have done so. (For example, one such Agatha Christie mystery (And Then There Were None) takes place on a small island during a storm another is on a train stalled in the mountains and surrounded by new-fallen, unmarked snow.) One of the most famous locked-room mysteries was The Hollow Man. The resolution of such a story might involve showing how the room was not really "locked", or that it was not necessary for anyone else to have come or gone that the murderer is still hiding in the room, or that the person to "discover" the murder when the room was unlocked in fact committed it just then.

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson mysteries Edit

In 1887, Scotsman Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859–1930) gave fresh impetus to the emerging form of the detective story by creating Sherlock Holmes, resident at 221B Baker Street, London—probably the most famous of fictional detectives and the first one to have clients, to be hired to solve a case. Holmes's art of detection consists in logical deduction based on minute details that escape everyone else's notice, and the careful and systematic elimination of all clues that in the course of his investigation turn out to lead nowhere. Conan Doyle also introduced Dr. John H. Watson, a physician who acts as Holmes's assistant and who also shares Holmes's flat in Baker Street. In the words of William L De Andrea,

Watson also serves the important function of catalyst for Holmes's mental processes. [. ] From the writer's point of view, Conan Doyle knew the importance of having someone to whom the detective can make enigmatic remarks, a consciousness that's privy to facts in the case without being in on the conclusions drawn from them until the proper time. Any character who performs these functions in a mystery story has come to be known as a "Watson".

Many of the great fictional detectives have their Watson: Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot, for example, is often accompanied by Captain Arthur Hastings. Hastings, however, appeared only intermittently in those Poirot novels and stories written after 1925 and only once in those written after 1937.

The Golden Age Edit

The 1920s and '30s are commonly known as the "Golden Age" of detective fiction. Most of its authors were British: Agatha Christie (1890–1976), Dorothy L. Sayers (1893–1957), and many more. Some of them were American, but with a British touch. By that time, certain conventions and clichés had been established, which limited any surprises on the part of the reader to the twists and turns within the plot and of course to the identity of the murderer. Most of novels of that era were whodunnits, and several authors excelled, after successfully leading their readers on the wrong track, in convincingly revealing to them the least likely suspect as the real villain of the story. What is more, they had a predilection for certain casts of characters and certain settings, with the secluded English country house at the top of the list.

A typical plot of the Golden Age mystery followed these lines:

  • A body, preferably that of a stranger, is found in the library by a maid who has just come in to dust the furniture.
  • As it happens, a few guests have just arrived for a weekend in the country—people who may or may not know each other. They typically include such stock characters as a handsome young gentleman and his beautiful and rich fiancée, an actress with past glory and an alcoholic husband, a clumsy aspiring young author, a retired colonel, a quiet, middle-aged man about whom no one knows anything, who is supposedly the host's old friend, but behaves suspiciously, and a famous detective.
  • The police are either unavailable or incompetent to lead the investigation for the time being.

Hardboiled American crime-fiction writing Edit

An American reaction to the cozy convention of British murder mysteries was the American hardboiled school of crime writing (certain works in the field are also referred to as noir fiction). Writers Dashiell Hammett (1894–1961), Raymond Chandler (1888–1959), Jonathan Latimer (1906–1983), Mickey Spillane (1918–2006), and many others decided on an altogether different, innovative approach to crime fiction. This created whole new stereotypes of crime fiction writing. The typical American investigator in these novels, was modeled thus:

He works alone. He is between 35 and 45 years or so, and both a loner and a tough guy. His usual diet consists of fried eggs, black coffee, and cigarettes. He hangs out at shady all-night bars. He is a heavy drinker, but always aware of his surroundings and is able to fight back when attacked. He always "wears" a gun. He shoots criminals or takes a beating if it helps him solve a case. He is always poor. Cases that at first seem straightforward, often turn out to be quite complicated, forcing him to embark on an odyssey through the urban landscape. He is involved with organized crime and other lowlifes on the "mean streets" of, preferably, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York City, or Chicago. A hardboiled private eye has an ambivalent attitude towards the police. His ambition is to save America and rid it of its mean elements all by himself.

As Raymond Chandler's protagonist Philip Marlowe—immortalized by actor Humphrey Bogart in the movie adaptation (1946) of the novel The Big Sleep (1939)—admits to his client, General Sternwood, he finds it rather tiresome, as an individualist, to fit into the extensive set of rules and regulations for police detectives:

"Tell me about yourself, Mr. Marlowe. I suppose I have a right to ask?"

"Sure, but there's very little to tell. I'm 33 years old, went to college once, and can still speak English if there's any demand for it. There isn't much in my trade. I worked for Mr. Wilde, the district attorney, as an investigator once. [. ] I'm unmarried because I don't like policemen's wives." "And a little bit of a cynic," the old man smiled. "You didn't like working for Wilde?"

"I was fired. For insubordination. I test very high on insubordination, General."

Hardboiled crime fiction just uses a different set of clichés and stereotypes. Generally, it does include a murder mystery, but the atmosphere created by hardboiled writers and the settings they chose for their novels are different from English country-house murders or mysteries surrounding rich old ladies elegantly bumped off on a cruise ship, with a detective happening to be on board. Ian Ousby writes,

Hardboiled fiction would have happened anyway, even if Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers [. ] had not written the way they did or Knox had not formulated his rules. The impetus came from the conditions of American life and the opportunities available to the American writer in the 1920s. The economic boom following the First World War combined with the introduction of Prohibition in 1920 to encourage the rise of the gangster. The familiar issues of law and lawlessness in a society determined to judge itself by the most ideal standards took on a new urgency. At the same time, the pulp magazines were already exploiting a ready market for adventure stories—what Ronald Knox would have called "shockers"—which made heroes of cowboys, soldiers, explorers, and masked avengers. It took no great leap of imagination for them to tackle modern crime and detection, fresh from the newspaper headlines of the day, and create heroes with the same vigour [. ].

Another author who enjoyed writing about the sleazy side of life in the U.S.A. is Jonathan Latimer. In his novel Solomon's Vineyard (1941), private eye Karl Craven aims to rescue a young heiress from the clutches of a weird cult. Apart from being an action-packed thriller, the novel contains open references to the detective's sex drive and allusions to, and a brief description of, kinky sexual practices. The novel was considered "too hot" for Latimer's American publishers, so was not published until 1950 in a heavily Bowdlerized version. The unexpurgated novel came out in Britain during the Second World War.

The hardboiled phenomenon appeared slightly earlier than the Golden Age of Science Fiction. "Apparently something just before the War [World War II] acted to create pulp writers who were willing to break out of the post-World War I shell of neverland cliches, which persisted in the pulps until the middle of the 1930s", Algis Budrys said in 1965. Large, mainstream book companies published crime fiction during World War II, presaging a similar entry into the science-fiction market in the 1950s. [7]

The military veteran as hardboiled protagonist Edit

Several hardboiled heroes have been war veterans: H. C. McNeile (Sapper)'s Bulldog Drummond from World War I, Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer, and many others from World War II, and John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee from the Korean War. In Bulldog Drummond's first appearance, he is a bored ex-serviceman seeking adventure, Spillane's Hammer avenges an old buddy who saved his life on Guadalcanal. The frequent exposure to death and hardship often leads to a cynical and callous attitude, as well as a character trait known today as post-traumatic stress characterizes many hardboiled protagonists.

A shift from plot-driven themes to character analysis Edit

Over the decades, the detective story metamorphosed into the crime novel (see also the title of Julian Symons' history of the genre). Starting with writers like Francis Iles, who has been described as "the father of the psychological suspense novel as we know it today," more and more authors laid the emphasis on character rather than plot. Up to the present, many authors have tried their hand at writing novels where the identity of the criminal is known to the reader right from the start. The suspense is created by the author having the reader share the perpetrator's thoughts—up to a point, that is—and having them guess what is going to happen next (for example, another murder, or a potential victim making a fatal mistake), and if the criminal will be brought to justice in the end. For example, Simon Brett's A Shock to the System (1984) and Stephen Dobyns' Boy in the Water (1999) both reveal the murderer's identity quite early in the narrative. A Shock to the System is about a hitherto law-abiding business manager's revenge which is triggered by his being passed over for promotion, and the intricate plan he thinks up to get back at his rivals. Boy in the Water is the psychological study of a man who, severely abused as a child, is trying to get back at the world at large now that he has the physical and mental abilities to do so. As a consequence of his childhood trauma, the killer randomly picks out his victims, first terrifying them and eventually murdering them. But Boy in the Water also traces the mental states of a group of people who happen to get in touch with the lunatic, and their reactions to him.

Crime fiction in specific themes Edit

Apart from the emergence of the psychological thriller and the continuation of older traditions such as the whodunnit and the private eye novel, several new trends can be recognised. One of the first masters of the spy novel was Eric Ambler, whose unsuspecting and innocent protagonists are often caught in a network of espionage, betrayal and violence and whose only wish is to get home safely as soon as possible. Spy thrillers continue to fascinate readers even if the Cold War period is over now. Another development is the courtroom novel which, as opposed to courtroom drama, also includes many scenes which are not set in the courtroom itself but which basically revolves around the trial of the protagonist, who claims to be innocent but cannot (yet) prove it. Quite a number of U.S. lawyers have given up their jobs and started writing novels full-time, among them Scott Turow, who began his career with the publication of Presumed Innocent (1987) (the phrase in the title having been taken from the age-old legal principle that any defendant must be considered as not guilty until s/he is finally convicted). But there are also authors who specialise in historical mysteries—novels which are set in the days of the Roman Empire, in medieval England, the United States of the 1930s and 40s, or whenever (see historical whodunnit) -- and even in mysteries set in the future. Remarkable examples can be found in any number of Philip K. Dick's stories or novels.

LGBT crime fiction Edit

LGBT has also left its mark on the genre of crime fiction. Numerous private eyes—professionals as well as amateurs—are now women, some of them lesbians. Tally McGinnis, for example, is the young gay heroine of a series of novels by U.S. author Nancy Sanra (born 1944). Sanra's Tally McGinnis mysteries, such as No Escape (1998), which is set in San Francisco, are quite traditional in other respects. In Britain, Scottish-born Val McDermid created lesbian journalist-cum-sleuth Lindsay Gordon, and Joan Smith (born 1953) has gained popularity as the author of a series of Loretta Lawson novels. Lawson is a university teacher and an amateur sleuth. In Full Stop (1995), she stops over at New York and is quickly devoured by the city. Seattle writer Barbara Wilson published Murder in the Collective and other crime books with LGBT characters.

Police investigation themes Edit

By far the richest field of activity though has been the police novel. U.S. (male) writer Hillary Waugh's (1920–2008) police procedural Last Seen Wearing . (1952) is an early example of this type of crime fiction. As opposed to hard-boiled crime writing, which is set in the mean streets of a big city, Last Seen Wearing . carefully and minutely chronicles the work of the police, including all the boring but necessary legwork, in a small American college town where, in the dead of winter, an attractive student disappears. In contrast to armchair detectives such as Dr. Gideon Fell or Hercule Poirot, Chief of Police Frank W. Ford and his men never hold back information from the reader. By way of elimination, they exclude all the suspects who could not possibly have committed the crime and eventually arrive at the correct conclusion, a solution which comes as a surprise to most of them but which, due to their painstaking research, is infallible. The novel certainly is a whodunnit, but all the conventions of the cosy British variety are abandoned. A lot of reasoning has to be done by the police though, including the careful examination and re-examination of all the evidence available. Waugh's police novel lacks "action" in the form of dangerous situations from which the characters can only make a narrow escape, but the book is nonetheless a page-turner of a novel, with all the suspense for the readers created through their being able to witness each and every step the police take in order to solve the crime.

Another example is American writer Faye Kellerman (born 1952), who wrote a series of novels featuring Peter Decker and his daughter by his first marriage, Cindy, who both work for the Los Angeles Police Department. Local colour is provided by the author, especially through Peter Decker's Jewish background. In Stalker (2000), 25-year-old Cindy herself becomes the victim of a stalker, who repeatedly frightens her and also tries to do her bodily harm. Apart from her personal predicament, Cindy is assigned to clear up a series of murders that have been committed in the Los Angeles area. Again, the work of the police is chronicled in detail, but it would not be fiction if outrageous things did not intervene.


Aurora man who shot wife in face, hid body in garage convicted of murder

Pictured: Keith Zotto. Photo provided by the 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.

AURORA | An Arapahoe County jury this week determined that a 46-year-old Aurora plumber murdered his wife when he shot her in the face and dumped her body into a garbage can in his garage two years ago.

Following a five-day trial, jurors on May 11 convicted Keith Zotto of first-degree murder after deliberation in connection with the 2019 shooting death of his wife, 35-year-old Amber Zotto, according to the 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.

Aurora police initially began investigating the Zottos after Amber’s mother reported her daughter missing on July 2, 2019, court records show. In initial interviews with police, Keith said he and his wife had gotten into an argument several days prior, she left after the dispute and he had not seen her since. Investigators later found a note, allegedly written by Amber, “alluding to suicide,” according to court documents.

The couple’s two children later told authorities that they had not seen their mother since June 29, 2019.

Upon searching the couple’s home on East Milan Circle in Aurora, police found Amber’s body upside down in a trash can in the garage. There was blood spattered on the lid and walls of the receptacle, and refuse had been scattered on top of Amber’s cadaver, according to an arrest affidavit filed against Keith.

Investigators also found a loaded revolver atop a piece of carpet that was partially covering Amber’s body.

“He literally threw her away and left her to rot,” Chief Deputy District Attorney Laura Wilson told jurors in her closing argument.

Keith eventually told police that he and his wife had a lengthy history of heavy drinking and arguing, though he “did not believe he had been physical with Amber” the previous weekend, according to the arrest document.

Pictured: Amber Zotto. Photo provided by the 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.

He eventually said “it was possible he hurt Amber … he has been drinking heavily to the point of blacking out lately and may have done something and not remember it,” records show.

A family member of Keith’s, whose name was redacted in court records, later told police “that Keith told her that Amber had put her hands up and stated ‘don’t shoot, don’t shoot’ at which point Keith Zotto shot her in the face,” according to the affidavit.

“Amber begged for her life, she put up her hands, but he pulled the trigger,” Wilson said.

Aurora SWAT officers arrested Keith without incident at a family member’s house the evening of July 2. He has been detained without bond ever since.

“This man had no regard for a human life, even when it was his wife and the mother of his children,” District Attorney John Kellner said in a statement. “He stayed in that house with those kids, knowing their mother was dead in the garage. And rather than take responsibility, he tried to pretend his wife committed suicide and he somehow panicked, hid the body and then forgot what he had done.”

Per state statute, Keith Zotto is required to be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. He remains incarcerated at the Arapahoe County jail while he awaits the formal imposition of his sentenced on July 19.


Jay's motive: besides Hae telling Stephanie about the cheating rumors

I’ve been reading the posts and alternate theories for some time now and have done what I can to keep up with it all, but I am not sure that anyone has suggested this apologies if they have. Just a slight variation of the “Hae threatened to tell Stephanie about Jay cheating” scenario. First of all, to recap, it seems clear to me that Hae's murder was not a premeditated act, on anyone's part. Nothing about the day sounds like a plan, to me. It's all missteps and cover-ups. (Sidenote: In addition to all the snafus of the day, I don’t buy that this average teenage kid is going to purposefully plan a manual strangulation in broad daylight in a public place. As far as the “evidence” goes, if Adnan = guilty, then Hae’s murder = premeditated. And let's pretend for a moment it was Adnan, and he decided in advance that Hae literally had to die as a penalty for dumping him, wouldn’t he have tapped Jay (or some other “criminal element”) for connections to a gun or something slightly more removed? I just can’t fathom this regular 17-year-old without a history of aggression of any kind to have planned out his first foray into violence to be a calculated first degree murder with his bare hands! There's no way.)

I find it more likely that Hae and Jay got into something on the spot, and his temper caused him to lash out at her, and once he started he was stuck and basically had to finish it. This happened on the fly. Something gone terribly wrong.

So, a spur of the moment killing an "act of passion" but by Jay, not Adnan. Here is the twist on the motive:

Jay gets together with Hae for whatever reason - she had plans to meet up with him after school for some weed maybe on the way to pick up her cousin. (I’m not really sure that Hae would go to Jay for weed, but I’ve heard that tossed around before.) But maybe there was some other reason they met up. As we recall, she originally told Adnan she could give him a ride after school, then said something else had come up, which may have been running into Jay after he dropped Adnan back at school and arranged to meet up with him that afternoon. He tells her to hit him up on Adnan's cell after school (the first phone call he is waiting for, at Jenn's house). Hae calls Jay at Adnan's phone at 2:36 to say she's on her way, just a quick stop before picking up her cousin.

They meet up, and he then hits on her- she was Adnan's girlfriend and it's starting to piss off Jay how close Adnan is with Stephanie, with Adnan already buying his girl a birthday gift before he did. So he makes a move and Hae reacts badly - turns him down cold and raises the issue of what she already knows about Jay cheating on Stephanie. She threatens to tell Stephanie about Jay hitting on her now and what he's done before, and obviously she’ll tell Adnan about him hitting on her (and her turning him down). Jay now has two motives - 1) rejection ("kill the b. " - words he puts into Adnan's mouth and as we have seen, even recently men have killed women who reject their advances) and 2) keep Stephanie from finding out - clearly Hae going to Stephanie would be a big problem, and Jay, who doesn't have much going for him, evidently does not have anyone of Stephanie's quality (brains, looks, abilities) on the horizon. He reacts out of that "animal rage" he spoke of (to SK in person in episode 8) and begins to strangle Hae on the spot, and there's no going back, he has to finish what he started.

Not a perfect theory, but maybe a bit more emotion involved than just telling Stephanie about the cheating?


All Your Murder on Middle Beach Finale Questions, Answered

In Murder on Middle Beach, creator Madison Hamburg embarks on a deeply personal documentary project: turning the camera on his own family to explore his mother’s life and untimely death. On March 3, 2010, Barbara Beach Hamburg was found murdered in the backyard of her Madison, Connecticut, home. Her body was discovered by Madison’s aunt Conway and his sister, Ali his father, Jeffrey Hamburg, quickly became a person of interest. To this day, the case that shocked a small seaside town has remained unsolved.

Murder on Middle Beach unfolds with deliberate control, building a portrait of Barbara through interviews with various family members. Hamburg attempts to investigate the murder as well, point-blank asking his relatives if they killed his mother, while simultaneously grappling with the ethics of true crime on-screen. In episode four, the finale, the pace quickens and the case appears to propel forward.

He absolves his sister, Ali, by calling her former high school and obtaining proof of the time she arrived on March 3, 2010, establishing that she would not have had an open window to commit the crime. Hamburg also discovers questionable financial details about his father, including that he had three separate passports and various shady dealings abroad. Crucially, he speaks to a friend of his mother’s and discovers that Barbara had a court date with Jeffrey on the day she was murdered—but an unknown person called her and told her that the time had changed, so she ended up being home at the time she was killed.

Until the last few minutes of the series, Hamburg still believes he may never find out what really happened to his mother—but then he learns that his FOIA request to the Madison Police Department has been granted. In October of this year, he received 1,600 relevant documents, which he hopes will help him piece together a definitive answer and give his family some closure.

Here, Hamburg discusses the case files he received, the impact the documentary has had on his family, his current relationship with his father, and what could come next.

GQ: How are you feeling now that this is all out in the world?

Madison Hamburg: I’m doing good. Like I said in our previous call, this has been an eight-year-long double life for me. I didn’t tell my friends and coworkers that I was making this, or even that my mom had died. So it’s been relieving to have such a positive response. And just people reaching out. Someone reached out to me today, saying, “My sister was murdered a year ago, and I didn’t know how to articulate the grief that I was feeling until I saw this scene or saw you looking at old home videos of your mom with your girlfriend.” It’s been really fulfilling and obviously tough for my family, but they’ve been holding strong.

What has the reaction been like, both from people in your life who didn’t know about this and strangers who might be feeling some sort of connection to your story?

Obviously, there are the inevitable trolls on Twitter, but it’s been really, really positive. My family, it’s been really tough to see themselves on HBO. We did family screenings before it came out, but there’s another level of realization when seeing the documentary and seeing my face in the thumbnail on the platform. I didn’t realize how public this would feel. It’s really out there.

We have a tip line, and we’ve been getting anonymous tips constantly, which is amazing. I’ve been receiving hundreds of messages on Instagram and Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn, from people who have gone through their own loss, who can identify some similarities with the family dynamic, who can channel the story.

Tell me more about your family having trouble with their story being public.

I think there’s a loss attached to the act of this becoming public, a loss of anonymity. And I think that’s something that they’re sort of wrestling with and going through the stages with. It’s hard to see yourself on camera and hear your voice in any context—in this context, it’s very amplified. There are things that people have said to me in interviews that they weren’t saying to each other. And in an act of trying to be as balanced as possible, including all of the perspectives, it’s challenging. Especially with Conway and Ali—Ali didn’t know that Conway thought she killed my mom. I wrestle with that in episode four, and obviously Ali knows now.

Conway has since come around on her theories about Ali, and that’s really challenging for Conway as well, to come to terms with this thing she’s been holding onto for so long. And feeling so horrible for casting aspersions towards my sister. Had she not felt so sure, she wouldn’t have been doing that. She’s sort of seen the weight of her accusations, I think.

Has their relationship since healed at all?

They are moving towards being aunt and niece again. It’s going to take time. And that was my greatest fear in making this, that I’d be creating more disruption, that I’d be doing more bad than good by exposing these vulnerabilities and long-held theories and secrets. The documentary ended, but our lives still continued.

You wrestle with the idea that this project is doing more harm than good through the whole documentary. With some distance now, where have you landed on that question? Or are you still working through it?

I think there’s ultimately sacrifices made by the people who are involved, but I never took sides. I never outwardly said, “I think it’s this person because X, Y, and Z,” and I was really careful not to do that. I feel okay with where we landed, especially with the fourth episode.

I want to ask about the pivotal moment where you learn the news, on camera, that someone told your mom that her court time was changed. What was going through your head at the time?

In making this, I’ve had to compartmentalize so much in order to just not be a wreck. That’s a part of me dealing with my grief and finding some finality in my mom’s death, because there’s no purpose to her death to me. Hearing that was a moment where I went home and I got really angry. And I don’t do that very often.

I got angry because, one, I don’t know that the police know that. Even now, after seeing the case files, I don’t know that the police know this detail, which is infuriating. Two, it’s like, did someone plan my mom’s death? Did someone make that call? Picturing someone deceiving my mom in order to create opportunity, it just made me really angry.

Do you feel that the police can take that information you discovered into account? Are you collaborating on that level now?

We received the case files, but I’m not sure if we received all of them. We’ve made another request to the Madison Police Department for additional case information. Unfortunately, the road I've had to take to get these case files released has rendered our relationship in a way where if I share them information, it puts my ability to gain access at risk.

I thought I’d get these case files and see if they’d be able to corroborate things or see if they found things that I missed. I really want to get a hold of the rest of the file before not ever being able to get access to it. It’s a tough situation.

We didn’t show it in the series, but when we went in in 2019 with my team of investigators, we offered the police department what’s called an MOU, a memorandum of understanding, which would allow them to collaborate with us and give them more control over what was released to the public. But it would allow my investigators to look at the case file in full and ask questions and collaborate with them. And they didn’t take us up on that, so we had to go through this whole process of basically rendering them public, which is terrifying. I don’t know if they’re technically public anymore, but that’s another moment where, as a family member, there’s a really big privacy concern of anyone—including my dad, anyone in my family, possibly the murderer, or even just trolls on Reddit—could be able to access those because of the efforts I’ve made. A big fear of mine is, on the internet, all of a sudden being sent an autopsy photo of my mom from someone who just really wants a reaction out of me.

Last time we spoke, you said something about how, since the files were handed over, the Madison Police Department has been “nothing but nice.” Do you worry that the documentary, not always showing them in the best light, could change anything on that front?

That was a concern of mine. They’ve still been really cordial and nothing but nice. I think, strategically, on their end, maybe they’re waiting for something within my documentary to spur the case to become active again, so they don’t have to go through this process of releasing more information again. I’m hopeful that we can collaborate—at least that I can help them, because now that I have these case files, it’s really changed my ability and my investigators’ ability to investigate. I’ve been, for eight years, piecing together fragments of memories that are fading and changing over the years. The fact that there’s this clarity, it’s addicting.

You also mentioned that the last time you spoke to your dad was on camera. Has that changed since this aired?

I have still not talked to my dad. I would like a relationship with my dad, but it’s up to him, as far as I’m concerned. Because I’ve bent over backwards to give him every opportunity to participate, to give his side, throughout this entire process. And talking to him over the past eight years, the thing he’s consistently said is he’s been dealt a bad hand and nobody ever talks about that they all just point fingers. I’m here if he ever wants to take that opportunity. I want a dad, you know? And if he wants to be that to me, unfortunately, he's got to address the elephant in the room. So I’m ready whenever he is.

Do you suspect that your dad was involved in your mom's murder?

I haven't exonerated him. But I don't know.

Do you think you want to do a follow-up documentary?

It's too early to say whether or not something like that would happen, but I certainly am not going to stop looking into what happened to my mom.


Watch the video: 5 of the Deadliest mob hits in By Murder INC. The Mobs most Brutal Death Squad (February 2023).

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