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The jazz bird

In a riveting novel of betrayal and love based on a real-life, high-profile murder trial, Imogene, a beautiful society lady once known as the Jazz Bird, is killed by her husband, George Remus, a famous and fabulously wealthy bootlegger, who then turns himself in. Reprint. 25,000 first printing. - (Baker & Taylor)

An exquisitely written novel of love and betrayal, of money and power, set at the apex of that time of glitz and innocence known as the Jazz Age


Lawyer George Remus became the country's biggest bootlegger, grossing over $80 million until his arrest. Upon his release from prison, he learns that his beautiful wife, Imogene, has left him and that his bank accounts are empty. On the morning of their divorce, he runs her car off the road in the middle of rush hour in Eden Park and shoots her to death.

Shocked and fascinated by this horrible crime, the country gears up for a sensational trial pitting the man known as ""the king of the bootleggers"" against Chief Prosecutor Charlie Taft, the youngest son of the former president. The trial is a national spectacle, a lens focused on the fabulous rise and fall of the Remus empire and the tragic love story within it, and an attempt to answer some tantalizing questions: What actually happened to the fortune? What are the motives of the federal agent who brought Remus down? What complex emotions and desires, leading ultimately to the ruin of three men, really lie within the heart of the woman known as the Jazz Bird?

Based on a true story, The Jazz Bird is at once a love story, a crime novel, and the tale of the courtroom battle between two powerful men whose respective futures hang in the balance. - (Simon and Schuster)

Author Biography

Craig Holden is the author of four previous novels: The Jazz Bird, The River Sorrow, The Last Sanctuary, and Four Corners of Night. He lives in Michigan. - (Simon and Schuster)

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Booklist Reviews

Basing his story on the 1920s murder trial of Cincinnati bootlegger George Rebus, Holden has fashioned an evocative Jazz Age thriller. There was never any doubt that Rebus killed his wife, Imogene, a blue-blood flapper known in the press as the Jazz Bird, but the trial sought to resolve several other mysteries: What happened to Rebus' $80 million fortune while the bootlegger was imprisoned on a racketeering charge? Was Imogene having an affair with the FBI agent who investigated her husband? Holden tells the story mostly in flashback as the trial progresses, with point of view juggling between the husband, his wife, and the prosecutor, Charlie Taft, youngest son of the former president. The courtroom scenes drag a bit, but Holden captures the frenzy of the era with Ragtime -like flourishes, and the multileveled love story is genuinely entrancing, especially Taft's infatuation with the dead woman, which nicely echoes the film Laura. A fine mix of history and romance, stylishly layered with noir sensibility. ((Reviewed December 15, 2001)) Copyright 2001 Booklist Reviews

Kirkus Reviews

A consistently interesting fictionalized version of a real-life Jazz Age crime.After shooting his wife, George Remus, a.k.a. King of the Bootleggers, goes directly to the nearest police station and turns himself in, at which point the question becomes, of course, not who but why-and would he get away with it? The time was 1927, October 6, to be exact, the day when beautiful Imogene Ring Remus and her flamboyant husband were to bring a legal end to their puzzling, odd-couple marriage: until George ended it his way. Inevitably, when the trial began at last, the Cincinnati newspapers called it the "Trial of the Century," and certainly the requisite ingredients were there: murder, lust, endless betrayals, an exquisitely complex love triangle (enmeshed in it was Special Agent Frank Dodge, a star of J. Edgar Hoover's freshly minted investigative body, while Ohio's Chief Prosecutor was Charlie Taft, son of the former president), a lost, strayed, or stolen treasure, and enough headline-hunting principals to keep the Speed-Graphics boys popping flashbulbs to a fare-thee-well. Soon enough, the Defense made its strategy clear: not guilty by reason of insanity. But that strategy came only after Remus, a busy member of the Cincinnati bar in his pre-rum-running days, decided to let wiser friends prevail and backed away from his original chest-thumping stand that "Remus's lawyer shall be Remus" and accepted the hard-nosed, high-profile Carl Elston as co-counsel. The courtroom battle was finally joined, the tides sweeping back and forth until the very day of the verdict-which, when it came, came fast: in 15 minutes.A little long and a little slow, but with a Gatsby-like quality that lifts it way above the average. Once again, Holden (Four Corners of the Night, 1999, etc.) proves he can do the job.Author tour Copyright Kirkus 2001 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved

Library Journal Reviews

Famed bootlegger George Remus kills his beautiful, well-bred wife (the "Jazz Bird") and then turns himself in. Improbable? Not really; the novel is based on an actual 1920s murder. The author of respected works such as The River Sorrow gets a big push here. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Library Journal Reviews

A belle of the 1920s, Imogene "Jazz Bird" Ring Remus had it all: she was the well-educated daughter of a prominent Cincinnati lawyer, an acknowledged beauty, and the wife of renowned bootlegger George Remus. Her life was a blur of lavish parties and legal mazes as she alternately lives it up and lives in hiding as her husband dodged the Feds. Then, on the afternoon of October 6, 1927, George shot Imogene, left her dying in the street, and calmly drove to the police station to confess. Holden (The River Sorrow) has marvelously blended history, romance, and legal thriller in this re-creation of the sensational trial that followed. (The story is based on real events.) Did the bootlegger do it to avoid a messy and costly divorce? The chief prosecutor was Charlie Taft, youngest son of the former President; the witness list was a roll call of local high society; and the proceedings revealed an amazing web of disappearing fortunes, steamy love triangles, and governmental manipulation, set against a backdrop of murder, illicit booze, and hot jazz. Reminiscent of E.L. Doctorow's Ragtime, this is an exceptional period piece that portrays the roller-coaster life of the Prohibition era with color, verve, and consistency. Holden's best work, it is highly recommended for all fiction collections. Susan Clifford Braun, Aerospace Corp., El Segundo, CA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Publishers Weekly Reviews

Based on a true story, this deftly written novel by Holden (Four Corners of the Night) delves deep into the murk of the Jazz Age, blending mystery and history in a heady cocktail. Charlie Taft is a prosecutor in late 1920s Cincinnati; he is also the son of William Howard Taft, Supreme Court chief justice and former president. When bootlegger George Remus turns himself in, in October 1927, for shooting his society wife, Imogene, Charlie thinks he's been handed a career maker. But all is not as simple as it seems. Through testimony and Imogene's diaries, Charlie becomes fascinated with the dead woman. Dubbed the Jazz Bird by Remus's men, she is a fabulous creation brilliant, beautiful, extraordinarily intelligent, naïve and deeply loved by her husband. Remus is a fascinating character, too, his fortune made by purchasing alcohol allowance certificates from pharmaceutical corporations. Forced into prison in 1924, Remus is saved by Imogene, who goes to humiliating lengths to get him released, but the nature of her act leads him to believe he was betrayed. Is this why he killed her, or is he truly insane, as he pleads in court? Throughout the effective trial sequences, the reader learns the story slowly, as Charlie does, and there are twists to the very end. The poignancy of the story lies in Holden's uncanny ability to make his creations believable, flaws and all, and in his evocation of the charged and sultry 1920s. Agent, Gail Hochman. 8-city author tour. (Jan.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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