112th: John Copenhaver and James Polchin

Event date: 
06/13/2024 - 7:00pm

Join us on Thursday, June 13th at 7pm for a joint launch reading for John Copenhaver's Hall of Mirrors, part of A Judy Nightingale and Philippa Watson Mystery, and James Polchin's Shadow Men: The Tangled Story of Murder, Media, and Privilege That Scandalized Jazz Age America.

In order to facilitate this in-person author event, we will be partially closing the second floor starting at 6:45pm. Please review our Safety guidelines and register for the event using the link below. 


or register using the following link: https://forms.gle/CkzwPz4qfRMSDp8g7

About the books: 

When a popular mystery novelist dies suspiciously, his writing partner must untangle the author’s connection to a serial killer in award-winning John Copenhaver’s new novel set in 1950s McCarthy-era Washington, DC.

In May 1954, Lionel Kane witnesses his apartment engulfed in flames with his lover and writing partner, Roger Raymond, inside. Police declare it a suicide due to gas ignition, but Lionel refuses to believe Roger was suicidal.

A month earlier, Judy Nightingale and Philippa Watson—the tenacious and troubled heroines from The Savage Kind—attend a lecture by Roger and, being eager fans, befriend him. He has just been fired from his day job at the State Department, another victim of the Lavender Scare, an anti-gay crusade led by figures like Senator Joseph McCarthy and J. Edgar Hoover, claiming homosexuals are security risks. Little do Judy and Philippa know, but their obsessive manhunt of the past several years has fueled the flames of his dismissal.

They have been tracking their old enemy Adrian Bogdan, a spy and vicious serial killer protected by powerful forces in the government. He’s on the rampage again, and the police are ignoring his crimes. Frustrated, they send their research to the media and their favorite mystery writer anonymously, hoping to inspire someone, somehow, to publish on the crimes—anything to draw Bogdan out. But has their persistence brought deadly forces to the writing team behind their most beloved books?

In the wake of Roger’s death, Lionel searches for clues, but Judy and Philippa threaten his quest, concealing dark secrets of their own. As the crimes of the past and present converge, danger mounts, and the characters race to uncover the truth, even if it means bending their moral boundaries to stop a killer.

From Edgar Award finalist James Polchin comes a thrilling examination of the murder that captivated Jazz Age America, with echoes of the decadence and violence of The Great Gatsby

On the morning of May 16, 1922, a young man’s body was found on a desolate road in Westchester County. The victim was penniless ex-sailor Clarence Peters. Walter Ward, the handsome scion of the family that owned the largest chain of bread factories in the country, confessed to the crime as an act of self-defense against a violent gang of “shadow men,” blackmailers who extorted their victims’ moral weaknesses. From the start, one question defined the investigation: What scandalous secret could lead Ward to murder?

For sixteen months, the media fueled a firestorm of speculation. Unscrupulous criminal attorneys, fame-seeking chorus girls, con artists, and misogynistic millionaires harnessed the power of the press to shape public perception. New York governor and future presidential candidate Al Smith and editor of the Daily News Joseph Medill Patterson leveraged the investigation to further professional ambitions. Famous figures like Harry Houdini, Arthur Conan Doyle, and F. Scott Fitzgerald weighed in. As the bereaved working-class Peters family sought to bring the callous Ward to justice, America watched enraptured.

Capturing the extraordinary twists and turns of the case, Shadow Men conjures the excess and contradictions of the Jazz Age and reveals the true-crime origins of the media-led voyeurism that reverberates through contemporary life. It’s a story of privilege and power that lays bare the social inequity that continues to influence our system of justice.

John Copenhaver’s historical crime novel, Dodging and Burning, won the 2019 Macavity Award for Best First Mystery. His second novel, The Savage Kind, won the 2021 Lambda Literary Award for Best LGBTQ Mystery. He cohosts on the House of Mystery Radio Show, is the six-time recipient of Artist Fellowships from the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, and for years, wrote a crime fiction review column for Lambda Literary called “Blacklight." He’s a Larry Neal awardee, and his work has appeared in CrimeReads, Electric Lit, The Gay and Lesbian Review, PANK, Washington Independent Review of Books, and others. He teaches fiction writing and literature at Virginia Commonwealth University and is a faculty mentor in the University of Nebraska’s Low-Residency MFA program.

James Polchin is a writer, professor, and cultural historian. He holds a Ph.D. in American Studies from New York University. His book Indecent Advances: A Hidden History of True Crime and Prejudice Before Stonewall was an Edgar Award finalist, Macavity Award Nominee, a PBS American Masters Essential Culture Read, and named one of the Best True Crime Books of the Year by CrimeReads. His writing has appeared in Slate, TIME, Huffington Post UK, CrimeReads, Paris Review, Rolling Stone, The New Inquiry, Lambda Literary, and the Gay and Lesbian Review. He is a Clinical Professor in Liberal Studies at New York University, and has previously taught at the Princeton Writing Program, the Parsons School of Design, the New School, and the Creative Nonfiction foundation.

Event address: 
Book Culture 112th
536 W 112th St
New York, NY 10025
Pre-Order Now Badge
Hall of Mirrors: A Novel (A Judy Nightingale and Philippa Watson Mystery) By John Copenhaver Cover Image
ISBN: 9781639366507
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Pegasus Crime - June 4th, 2024

Pre-Order Now Badge
Shadow Men: The Tangled Story of Murder, Media, and Privilege That Scandalized Jazz Age America By James Polchin Cover Image
ISBN: 9781640096004
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Counterpoint - June 11th, 2024