Chris Nashawaty
October 01, 2007 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Devil's Gentleman

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Harold Schechter
publisher
Ballantine
genre
, History

We gave it an A-

If Geraldo was around in the 1890s, he would’ve loved Roland Molineux, a young dandy in Manhattan’s Gilded Age high society. The syphilitic son of a Civil War hero saw his honor challenged by a rival for his two-timing fiancée and poisoned the poor cad. When he got away with it, he moved on to a member of his upper-crust social club who’d slighted him. Schechter peppers his account of one of America’s earliest media circuses with peacock characters and deliciously tawdry details — sometimes too much detail (the murder case drags a bit). But for scandal sweet tooths, this one’s a beaut. A-

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