The Jazz Bird

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Overview

Cincinnati, 1927: a sensational murder trial captivates the nation. At stake: the lives of three men. There's the defendant, lawyer, and legendary bootlegger George Remus, whose crime of passion may seal his fate. Against him is the ambitious son of a former president, whose future rests on this monumental case. And then there's the federal agent whose obsession with taking Remus down started the entire tragedy. Three men separated by law and fate, but connected by something more seductive than either justice or ...
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The Jazz Bird

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Overview

Cincinnati, 1927: a sensational murder trial captivates the nation. At stake: the lives of three men. There's the defendant, lawyer, and legendary bootlegger George Remus, whose crime of passion may seal his fate. Against him is the ambitious son of a former president, whose future rests on this monumental case. And then there's the federal agent whose obsession with taking Remus down started the entire tragedy. Three men separated by law and fate, but connected by something more seductive than either justice or corruption -- the impassioned, untamed heart of an enigmatic woman known as the Jazz Bird.

Based on a true story, The Jazz Bird is an exquisitely written novel of love, betrayal, money, and power in an age of American innocence.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Few writers in recent years have garnered as much praise as Craig Holden, the superb novelist of the harrowing thriller The River Sorrow and the riveting police procedural Four Corners of Night. From The New York Times to The Washington Post and from bestselling authors as diverse as Robert B. Parker and Michael Ondaatje, the critics are unanimous: Holden is a voice to be reckoned with.

The Jazz Bird, Holden's fourth novel -- and his first foray into the genre of historical fiction -- is a brilliantly executed, character-driven page-turner set amid the glamour and turbulence of the 1920s. Based on actual events, it revolves around a popular Al Capone–like Cincinnati bootlegger, George Remus, who brutally guns down his sexy, blue-blooded wife, Imogene, on the day of their divorce. Minutes later, Remus turns himself into the police and confesses to the murder.

Cut-and-dried, right? Maybe not. Remus pleads not guilty. "What I did was justified," he says, "and that shall be my defense. Morally justified homicide." Enter Chief Prosecutor Charlie Taft, a hotshot lawyer who is the youngest son of former president and Supreme Court justice William Howard Taft. Riddled with self-doubt and having a lot to prove, Charlie knows that the case against Remus is going to be a circus for the press and that if he fails to get a conviction, he can kiss his political ambitions goodbye. A fiery court battle ensues, against a backdrop of high society and Prohibition's alluring and dangerous underworld. Soon, Charlie and the public begin to realize that the angel-voiced Imogene -- the Jazz Bird -- may not have been as innocent as first thought.

Atmospheric, taut, and populated by wonderfully drawn characters, The Jazz Bird will undoubtedly draw comparisons to E. L. Doctorow's Ragtime and F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. Is it that good? Well, not quite. But if Holden's writing doesn't equal the range of these two masters, his book is, on it's own, a work of pure beauty -- a literary thriller that enchants you, seduces you, and ultimately scratches at your skin. This is, by far, Holden's best work yet. (Stephen Bloom)

From The Critics
This novel, based on real-life events, opens in 1927, when infamous bootlegger George Remus guns down his soon-to-be-ex-wife, Imogene, on a city street with witnesses all around. Put on trial by prosecutor Charles Taft (son of the former president), Remus claims insanity as his defense. Crazy or not, he turns out to have had plenty to be angry about: The trial reveals that Imogene had taken up with federal agent Frank Dodge while Remus had been serving a two-year jail sentence. Imogene and Frank conspired to take Remus' business for themselves, trying to get Remus deported to Germany. Holden's novel features a series of flashbacks into the passionate, troubled stories of the trial's participants. Although the book is purportedly about the glamorous rich-girl-gone-bad Imogene (the book's title is her nickname), the reader is never really allowed inside her troubled head. Holden keeps both her and the larger-than-life Remus at a remove. Considering what a tawdry tale Holden has here, the book is awfully antiseptic. It's easy to read, but it's not the kind of novel you would recommend to anyone else or be likely to remember much of the next day.
—Chris Barsanti

Publishers Weekly
With a gruff, streetwise voice that would make a perfect narrator for any good film noir, veteran reader and Tony Award-winning performer of the Broadway show Contact, Gaines does a fine job of capturing the hep, sassy world of the 1920s that Holden (Four Corners of Night) so precisely evokes in this tautly rendered tale of bootlegging and betrayal. As the story of whiskey baron George Remus and the murder of his wife, Imogene, progresses with several twists and layers of detail, Gaines dives into the daunting assignment of giving the wide array of characters personal, often subtle touches to distinguish them in listeners' minds. From the blunt, gravelly intonation of Remus's strongman to the delicate lilt given to Imogene (known among Cincinnati society as the Jazz Bird), Gaines demonstrates both range and a skill for consistency. During one particularly challenging scene, he changes character numerous times as the story weaves between narration and the voices of various prospective jurors. Despite the book's title and time period, the recording is exceedingly spare in production, and listeners might have expected to hear some lightly fanned cymbals and silky horn arrangements. But given Holden's intriguing story and Gaines's pitch-perfect presentation, there's really no need for anything more. Based on the S&S hardcover. (Jan.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly
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, na?ve 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.
Library Journal
$80 million during Prohibition as the biggest bootlegger in the country (possibly the world). Along the way he made some very interesting friends and married Imogene, a beautiful society woman. When George is released from prison on bootlegging charges, he learns that his wife is leaving him and the fortune is gone. On the morning when the divorce becomes final, he shoots Imogene to death in the middle of rush hour. The year is 1927, and George's trial to determine his guilt or innocence by reason of insanity is about to get underway in Cincinnati. The national spotlight focuses on his past empire and the spectacular death of his gorgeous wife, whose nickname was the Jazz Bird. The story seems to have everything: crime, love, jazz, and a courtroom drama featuring Charlie Taft, youngest son of the former president. Sadly, the tale is very choppy and hard to follow, with the past and present intertwined in a way that is puzzling rather than exciting. Narrator Boyd Gaines makes the listening experience even more bewildering with his flat, uninflected voice. A production that could have been great but, alas, isn't. Not recommended.-Barbara Valle, El Paso P.L., TX Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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 abovethe average. Once again, Holden (Four Corners of the Night, 1999, etc.) proves he can do the job. Author tour
From the Publisher
"A striking, meticulously evoked Jazz Age saga that holds its own with the prose of F. Scott Fitzgerald and John O'Hara.... The novel is quite a departure from Holden's previous gritty contemporary thrillers...save for one key aspect: the care with which he crafts his characters." — Los Angeles Times

"Haunting and beautiful." — People

"Part historical thriller, part courtroom drama, part love story, it's a book that begs a single-sitting read." — Time Out

"The Jazz Bird sings an intriguing melody to which you can't help but succumb." — Detroit Free Press

"Assiduous research combines with racy dialogue, intriguing characters and, best of all, a story that is reluctant to impart the facts until it absolutely has to — in other words, a stylish, sizzling page-turner." — The New Zealand Herald

"Outstanding." — Publishers Weekly

"A tour de force from a writer who gets better with every novel." — Amazon.com

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780792725428
  • Publisher: BBC Audiobooks America
  • Publication date: 3/28/2002
  • Format: Cassette
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Product dimensions: 6.34 (w) x 9.36 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

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.

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Read an Excerpt

Prologue: Out of Eden

He found himself on the grass of a great dewy meadow surrounded by trees and violent outcroppings of rock and the high clear sky. It was October, he knew. It was 1927. The sharp air of the morning burned in his nostrils. He felt as if he had just awakened from a long and exhausting dream. Or been born. He breathed carefully and looked around and, realizing that he was alone, began to walk. The dew wetted his shoes.

Ahead, down a short slope, he saw a road they had driven many times. He came to it and stepped into it. A motorcar approached. He waved but it veered around him, its throaty electric horn blaring and distorting and fading as it went. The wind it generated whipped about him, spinning dirt into his eyes and chilling his wet feet and lower legs. He stepped back to the berm.

Other cars came. One finally slowed, and stopped. The driver leaned across. "Mr. Remus?" he said. "Is that you? Is everything all right?"

Remus got in. It was a Packard, a runner's car. Those big old, good old twin-sixes, heated up and retrofitted with extra water and gas and oil tanks and limo springs to bear the load of thirty cases of Remus's best, unpacked and hand-wrapped in newspaper, and stacked in where the backseat had been removed. They could cruise at ninety nonstop all the way from Cinci to Chi.

The man looked at him and waited. He was supposed to say where, he remembered. He was supposed to remember this man. He found that he could remember very little.

"The station," he said to the man he did not remember, who had stopped in Eden Park.

There was blood, after all. He hadn't noticed it before. A single shining spot of it on his trousers, near the zipper, over the region of his testicles. A round globule, thick in its relief, just beginning to coagulate. His suit was a good hard worsted, which is why it hadn't soaked in but sat there, beaded. He hadn't gotten any other blood on himself, that he'd seen anyway. It didn't matter. His fingers felt hot. He pressed the nails to his nose and inhaled and smelled the cordite, the back-blow, the burn there. Then he remembered and reached into the right pocket of his suit coat and found it, its barrel warm still. He wondered if it had burned a hole in the fabric.

Below them, the city lay in perfect definition in its basin against the river. So often it was shrouded, in cloud, in smoke, in haze, but today it showed itself, as if to make some point he couldn't quite grasp. They crossed the small pretty bridge and drove toward the edge of the park, through heavy trees just beginning to show their autumnal color. The trees too needed to display their vibrancy to him, to rub it in. We are so beautiful, they seemed to say. And alive.

The road held on to the lip of the cliff, high above the shining river and Kentucky beyond that, then came steeply down Mount Adams. They passed the reservoir and sped into the basin. He had emerged from one dream but suspected now that he had awakened into another. And that this was the one from which perhaps he would never escape.

As if it were some bizarre tour, the driver, this man he apparently knew, proceeded to take him past all the old places: Marcus's Front Street garage, the old lawyer Ring's office brownstone up the Eastern Row, then over to Race, within view of the dark building at the corner of Pearl. Where were they going? They'd already passed the Second District Station on Broadway. That would have done. Remus said nothing. He understood: it was a tour for his benefit. The driver must have known. (Soon they would all know. Everyone would know.) The driver knew, and he had passed his own sentence and was now administering it — you must look, the sentence read. You must remember it all as it happened and is happening and will happen together at once and in perpetuity. He watched it all unfold, the past in the present, here in Cincinnati and before that long ago in Chicago. It all seemed to be happening, still, though he was beginning to realize now that it was over.


Men and women hurried in and out. The great engines sat hidden inside the building but their exhalations rose in white clouds from high vents into the fine morning air. The man Remus did not remember pulled his Packard up to the arched doors. At the station. The depot. The Dixie Terminal.

Remus began to laugh. The man looked at him.

"I'm sorry," Remus said. "I'm sorry. I meant — no, no. This is fine. I thank you so very much."

"Sure thing, Mr. Remus. Anything for you, sir."

When the man pulled away, Remus waved at a cab. As he did, he put his other hand into his jacket pocket and felt the hammer, the mother-of-pearl handle, the now-cool barrel. Without looking, he removed it. It fit almost entirely within his hand. He dropped it into the trash receptacle on the curb.

"This is the wrong station, you see," Remus began, when he got in the new machine. "The authorities — "

The driver glanced back at him.

"The police station," said Remus. "Take me there."

Copyright © 2002 by Craig Holden

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Table of Contents

Prologue: Out of Eden 15
Discovery
Black for Mourning 21
The Swimmer 29
Teardrops 36
A Fine Bordeaux 43
A Lawyer's Lawyer 48
Motions 54
The Maker 62
Opening Arguments
Skirmishes 71
Groundwork 79
A Deal 87
Partners 97
Autumns 102
Hand to Hand 109
The Jazz Bird Sings 121
Open 125
Prosecution
Scenes from a Killing 135
A Dry Heat 147
A Vision of a Lady 156
Conspiracy 162
The Whiskey Monopoly 172
The Untouchables 179
The End of Something 189
Laura 194
Defense
A Portrait of Madness 205
A Last and Only Hope 213
Homecoming 220
Conners's Story 227
The Dead 234
Killers 239
A Plan 246
Marcus's Story 256
Verdict
Dogs 263
Rebuttals 267
Watching Harry 272
Dawn 275
Eden Park 283
The Night 287
The Jury 296
Epilogue: The Stone Room 303
Acknowledgments, Notes, and References 311
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First Chapter

Chapter Two: The Swimmer

In the evening they moved him from a holding cell in the precinct house to the county jail on the upper floors of the courthouse. Now, in the night, alone, he wondered where everyone was. He had lawyers. Then he remembered that they had quit, the last of them, in exasperation at his endless criticism. But surely someone should have come.

Of course, most of them were gone now. Marcus and Stratton and Landau and Hess and Gherum were gone. Zoline and Jess Smith and President Harding. Fowler the valet. All gone. But Conners was not gone. Babe was not gone. At least he didn't think so.

He remembered Babe driving him into the park and that when he'd looked around, later, the car was gone. Babe must have got scared and ran. Well, good for him. Remus hoped Babe was out there in the world, running still.

He had a cell to himself, a wooden bench, a single blanket, wool but thin. No pillow. No mattress or sheets upon the hard bench. The brick walls glowed cold. His shoulder, especially, ached. Sitting up took some pressure off it. He wedged himself into a corner and dozed and woke back into damp darkness, shivering harder and aching more deeply as the night wore on.

At one of her magnificent parties, the bright lighting made his eyes water. He looked at all the fine people in their fine clothing. He stood at the head of a table as long as a tennis court and held up a glass. The guests grew silent. He offered them well-chosen words of hope and good cheer. They smiled and offered their glasses to him.

The staff brought the food then, course after course of finely wrought delicacies in the form of wide flat bowls of a swirled orange and yellow soup, twisted knuckles of warm breads, selections of delicate and exotic appetizers. He could name none of them, though she had told him half a dozen times the names of each. It mattered to her to name what they had constructed, to name each particular element of it, as if by so doing, by cataloging and ordering, it could somehow be preserved. Escargot, he remembered then. Chewy grubs marinated in hot garlic butter and threaded back into perfect shells. He had laughed at this indulgence, the stuffing of dead mollusks into new shells, so that one could simply have the pleasure of taking the tiny fork in hand and pulling them out again, of feeling the slight suck of the vacuum they had formed.

God, he was cold. He'd always lived for the cold, for the waters or the black nights. But this creeping insidious jailhouse chill was not that. You needed to move. If you could move, you could let it pull you in and just go where it took you, and come out better for it at the end.

Once it had been the pier by the grounds of the old world's fair in South Chicago. As he shed the heavy woolen trousers and jacket his mother still dressed him in (though he was nearly fourteen), he gazed out across the unbounded expanse of it. The flat gray swells rose and fell as if the whole thing were some breathing, many-lunged creature, each lung expanding and contracting separately but in complex synchronicity. He'd never tried it this early. Small floes of ice still dotted the surface.

As he walked from the pier toward the stone breakwater to the north, his feet left scalloped depressions in the dirty sand. In the summer, he could swim for two hours, but now it would be enough just to make it from the breakwater to the pier. A quarter of a mile. Nothing, really, except in this cold.

The lake slapped at the end of the wall. The perpetual wind, frigid, heavy with moisture, whipped about him. He shivered, breathing, looking. Nothing. Nothing. His mind blank, in the way he could make it. He dove.

Oh, the ice of it, the blinding, numbing frigidity. The gray water hugged him to its bosom, sucked him down and squeezed him as his mother did sometimes, so tightly he couldn't breathe. His mind dimmed; he saw sparkles, then darkness, until the ice shot through clear to his spine, to his heart and brain and the core of his gut, and burned, and he came back.

He broke through a swell into the gray light, into the air. The swells lifted him. The great gray city, his city, Chicago, lay before him. A rail ran along the shoreline, the steam from a locomotive coming toward him. Farther up haze rolled from the mouth of the river, from the factories and foundries and refineries that lined it. Beyond that he could not see, but he knew what was there — the green money haze of Lincoln Park, the part of the city that did not belong to him. Not yet.

He broke toward the pier, arms cutting, legs grinding, face turning between the lighter gray of the air and the darker gray of the water. He swam to stay alive. But halfway across he knew he wasn't going to make it. He felt his muscles locking up, and he suddenly couldn't breathe. He stopped and trod, gasping, looking up at the dimming sky. He had never been so frightened. He imagined his body, gray now as the water, slowly sinking, spinning, to the eternal warmth at the bottom. That vision made him move against the pain. Then he forgot where he was, forgot how to breathe, and inhaled the fishy, greasy water, and choked.

Then he was crawling onto the pier's rough planking. The water he vomited steamed on the wood. He felt hands rubbing him, a coat thrown over him.

"Crazy damn kid." A man walking in the fairgrounds had seen him go in. The man rubbed until George began to feel his arms again, until he could walk back to the bench and get dressed.

He looked back out over the gray water.

"You try that again," the man said, "they'll be tossing the hooks for you."

He knew he'd had no business going in. He loved to swim, but that hadn't been why. It was something else, a thing he needed to understand. To try. To know he could do. He was alive. He hid a smile. His arms and his legs burned as the blood and the feeling returned.

*

In the morning, a deputy carrying a steel ring of keys opened the barred door and motioned for him to follow. They entered a stairwell. Up a flight, on the top floor, they passed along a narrow walkway between storage cages full of furniture and file cabinets and boxes and racks of uniforms, and through a doorway into a small suite. The deputy backed out and closed the door behind him. Remus didn't understand.

One of the rooms held a bare mattress on a frame, the other an old deeply stuffed cracked-leather sofa. In the bathroom, he ran water until it warmed, then held his hands under it and worked the stiffness from his knuckles. There were no towels, so he wiped them on his trousers, which were filthy anyway.

The door opened. A man in a brown suit came in. "Mr. Remus," he said. "Sheriff Anderson. It's been some time." He held out his hand, which Remus took, though he did not recognize the name nor remember the man's face.

"How is this? It's not luxury, but — "

"I don't understand — "

"Well, exactly," the sheriff said. "I apologize for all that last night. I didn't understand at first, either."

"One gets what one deserves."

"Deserves," Anderson said. "Exactly. You put my two children through the university, sir. Are you aware of that?"

"I...wasn't," Remus said.

Anderson nodded solemnly. "These rooms are yours for as long as you're with us. Think of what you'll be needing."

Remus looked around at the space. What would one need? He felt his wet trousers. "Towels," he said.

Anderson laughed. "You can even have a telephone installed, if you like. You'll have to arrange for the billing, of course."

"Of course," Remus said. "I...thank you for this."

"Not at all," said the sheriff. "Oh, you have a visitor, a Mr. Conners."

Remus felt his throat tighten. Conners had always been the best of them. It turned out he'd been at the precinct house, unaware that Remus had been moved until early this morning. They embraced. Conners put his hands on Remus's face and shook him and said, "What have you done, George Remus?"

A deputy brought in a low table and a pot of hot coffee. As Conners poured, he said, "We have to talk."

"Yes," said Remus. "I don't really remember it."

"You confessed."

"Yes."

Conners told him what he knew, which was only spotty.

Remus remembered a detective coming back to his cell in the precinct house and saying, "Well, you've done it. She's dead." When the detective led him back into the central booking chamber, someone screamed at him, "You killer! You crazy bastard!" and tried to get to him, but the detective hustled him away, down a hallway toward a quiet room where they could talk.

Now it was a new day. The coffee was warm. Now he would begin to figure out what to do.

Conners said, "The press wants to know..."

"I'll talk to them."

"Do you think it's wise?" Conners was silent a moment, then said, "The sheriff said you have a preliminary hearing at one."

"Do you remember him?"

"Anderson? Yes," Conners said. "Very well, actually. You?"

"No. But he was a good man, wasn't he?"

"He was good."

"He must have been," said Remus.

*

At his arraignment in the Hamilton County circuit court, he felt strong. He spoke clearly and held the judge in his gaze. He clasped his hands behind his back. He remembered this, the beat of the world inside the bar.

"Your Honor," he said. "I plead not guilty." He heard the rustle of the pages of the reporters behind him. Oh, he felt the strength of it all now coming together within him.

Later, at the press conference, he wore the same navy suit but had changed into a silk shirt and a fine pale yellow tie. He looked at each reporter in turn as they stared collectively back.

"George Remus is not insane," he declared. "I am responsible for my actions. What I did was justified, and that shall be my defense. Morally justifiable homicide."

As to the question of counsel, he claimed he had no money for lawyers. Yet he held up two telegrams, one from the noted Chicago criminal lawyer W. W. O'Brien (a partner of Clarence Darrow), and the other from the former Chicago federal prosecutor Hugh Daly, both offering their services at no charge.

"Regardless of money, Remus's lawyer shall be Remus," he declared. "It's my life in the balance. I'll defend myself."

At the hearing, he'd made the same pronouncement.

"Can you remain unbiased, unaffected by your emotions?" the judge had asked.

"No good lawyer remains unaffected by his emotions, Your Honor."

"It's a very difficult undertaking you propose, Mr. Remus," the judge said. "To be fair to oneself — "

"Judge, I can only say that it's as if I'm two separate beings. As if Remus the defendant exists there, and Remus the lawyer stands here. I cannot explain it except to say that one role does not trespass upon the other. That my emotions, thoughts, powers of reason, are somehow entirely separated."

"Mr. Taft?" the judge said.

"The state has no objection," said Charlie. "Mr. Remus, the lawyer, should know that we're convening a new grand jury on Monday, and that his client will be its first order of business."

"We thank you," Remus said, glancing over.

"Also, Your Honor," said Charlie, "the state is arranging for an alienist to examine Mr. Remus at the earliest possible date. Certainly this week."

"We ask the court to waive such examination," Remus replied immediately. "Whoever would suggest Remus is insane, that's who needs the examination."

Though he was topic "A" at the grand jury proceedings, Remus went nowhere near it. They didn't need him to know what he'd done. At the end of that week, the indictment came down as expected: that George Remus did kill and murder his wife, Imogene.

Copyright © 2002 by Craig Holden

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 8, 2013

    Fascinating look into Cincinnati's Jazz Age

    Keeping in mind that this is historical fiction (especially regarding the female protagonist), it is well written and offers a look into Cincinnati's place in bootlegging during prohibition. To a curious reader, it will lead to further investigation into the true story of George Remus and his activities as the King of Bootleggers. It was eagerly discussed in our book club where we were able to have a guest speaker well versed in the actual history of George Remus and his business dealings, murder trial and final days.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    engaging legal thriller

    In October 1927 in Cincinnati, bootlegger George Remus kills his beloved spouse Imogene, known by all as THE JAZZ BIRD. Immediately following the homicide, George goes back to his specially modified Packard, but his misunderstood rambling leads his driver to take him back to his home in Eden Park. Afterward, a stupefied George grabs a cab and goes to the police station to turn himself in for killing his wife. <P>Prosecutor Charlie Taft is assigned the case of a lifetime. Already in the limelight due to the pedigree of his father, the only person to have served as president and Supreme Court chief justice, Charlie believes this case is his big break to the national game though the culprit copping a plea of insanity somewhat muddies the water. As Charlie begins to sift through the evidence and gain a complete picture of George and Imogene, he wonders whether the former¿s feelings of deep betrayal from a three-year-old incident led to a calculated homicide? <P> THE JAZZ BIRD is a legal thriller based on a real case. The engaging story line is exciting with the trial filled with twists and the key characters (Mr. and Mrs. Remus and Taft) quite fascinating as readers see beyond their public masks to the real person. Along with fans of legal thrillers, the historical fiction (the Jazz era comes vividly alive) audience will agree that Craig Holden has written a fabulous novel that requires time for a one sitting read. <P>Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 13, 2009

    Good book

    This book was a book club selection and I enjoyed it. Interesting look at the bootlegging business and society in the 20s as well as an interesting look at the justice system of the time. The Remus trial was the "trial of the century", at least in the southern Ohio, northern KY area, and this book brought that to life.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 10, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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