|Note: This book, the edition I have, is apparently an earlier edition.|
On May 24, 1911, one of the most notorious murders in Denver's history occurred. The riveting tale involves high society, adultery, drugs, multiple murder, and more, all set in Denver's grand old hotel, the Brown Palace.
At the center of the storm was the seductively beautiful Denver socialite, Isabel Springer. Little did ambitious John W. Springer, wealthy businessman and politician, know that Isabel, 20 years his junior, had been feeding the romantic fire of an out-of-town suitor at the same time that she had become cozy with a man he regarded a friend and business partner.
Flirtation and romantic promises all culminated in a barroom confrontation, followed by two of the most lurid court trials in Colorado history. A true story of seduction, murder, mayhem in the courtroom, as gripping today as it was 90 years ago!
Since I am not native to Colorado, I thought this might be an interesting story to read of what is already Colorado's colorful history. I would not say it was as gripping as the summary suggests but it was interesting at least for awhile. The whole story did indeed wrap around murder and mayhem at the Brown Palace which I have yet to visit but certainly have seen.
The person who was most prominent for the whole affair, Isabel Springer, was sadly missing throughout much of the story. This was two-fold partly due to the fact she was a woman of society whom the men tried to keep out of the papers and secondly because she was ousted from Denver when her husband divorced her. She remained aloof and although did appear in court one time, she mostly lived in the New York area and died a pauper. There is an interesting epilogue that you simply must read that involves this author.
This whole story is a bit over the top and so many atrocities happened over the course of time. It also showed, at least to me, what high society privilege could buy and not buy. Many people who do not have money but find themselves maybe in a similar situation (murder I mean), would be thrown in jail without the privilege of creature comforts while awaiting or standing trial. This sickened me.
It also sickened me to see how Isabel Springer used men to gain her ever desire. Although they gave her much, she found no problem with turning against them if it suited her purposes. Her consorts and husband were not as upstanding as they seemed to be either. In the end, no one gained anything and the loss of life, status, and wealth was great.
The last thing that made me ill was the awful justice system and lack if integrity on so many sides. Mr. Henwood's initial trial may have come out very differently if certain things would have happened. The twist of whom he stood trial for to begin with was thought provoking, it is not whom you may think. I will not spoil that information though.
This book was interesting, I will give it that. However, it is written by a journalist and often comes across as a journalist attribute but I will give him his due as it was well researched and as complete as possible. The details were repetitive and somewhat boring but this too was due to the facts were often in newspapers articles of the day. I was glad to see photos of the real people of which the murder and subsequent trials took place.
Overall, there is a very different Denver today. The headlines in in the early 1900's would have certainly been sensational news as the author pointed out and does make for a good story to retell, especially, I am sure, at the Brown Palace. Yet, in book form, it is hardly as gripping as it was then.
Even so, I give this book 3 stars and I certainly learned a bit of Colorado history.
SIDE NOTE: Ironically, as I was writing this review, The Travel Channel's Show Mysteries At The Castle featured this very story but in brief. They gave a short summation of the trial but not a complete picture as the author has done here. They focused on what happened to the land that John W. Springer owned after his death. His luxurious mansion still exists and the roaming lands that he once owned are now part of Highland, Colorado with many homes built on the land.
Disclosure: I purchased a copy of this book for my own collections. The views expressed here are 100% my own and may differ from yours. ~Naila Moon
Where to find the author: