"Stephen Riegel tackles one of the country’s most enduring and perplexing missing-person cases. His fascinating blend of history and mystery is a story to savor, enjoy and revisit."—Peter Quinn, author of The Man Who Never Returned
"An intriguing and substantial chronicle of the once-notorious disappearance of Judge Joseph F. Crater in 1930."—Burton Peretti, author of Nightclub City: Politics and Amusement in Manhattan
"With his deep knowledge of New York politics and its judicial system, Stephen Riegel explains how Judge Crater rose to prominence, and what led to his disappearance."—Terry Golway, author of Machine Made: Tammany Hall and the Creation of Modern American Politics
"The raucous world of Jazz Age Manhattan rushes forth from the pages of this enjoyable narrative—from Tammany politicos and Broadway gadabouts to good government reformers and desperate entrepreneurs, Riegel brings to life a colorful cast of characters and momentous episodes that make this story unforgettable."—Robert Chiles, author of The Revolution of '28 and co-editor of New York History
"So vividly does Riegel bring this book to life that I had the feeling of turning pages, blank for a moment, before being populated with people and places that I could actually see. Riegel instinctively travels backwards and forwards in time around the disappearance, until the decadent Roaring Twenties, the Jazz Age, showgirls, gangsters and politicians rise from the pages, constructed like the infrastructure of early NYC itself."—Jessica Reed, A Time and A Place Magazine
"It is Justice Joseph Force Crater of the New York State Supreme Court who is the quintessential figure of murky New York mystery—the man who took a cab one hot August night in 1930, never to be seen again. Crater was a character out of a Jazz Age story F. Scott Fitzgerald never wrote. . . .Now the judge and his flamboyant era have been resurrected in 'Finding Judge Crater: A Life and Phenomenal Disappearance in Jazz Age New York,' by Stephen J. Riegel, a litigator and former federal prosecutor. Mr. Riegel is a diligent researcher. . . . It’s a good yarn and the author even provides his own credible solution to the mystery at the end."—The Wall Street Journal
On the night of August 6, 1930, Joseph Force Crater, a newly appointed judge and prominent figure in many circles of Manhattan, hailed a taxi in the heart of Broadway and vanished into thin air. Despite a decades-long international manhunt led by the New York Police Department’s esteemed Missing Persons Bureau, the reason for Crater’s disappearance remains a confounding mystery. In the early months of the investigation, evidence implicated and imperiled New York’s top officials, including then-Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt and Mayor Jimmy Walker, as well as the city’s Tammany Hall political machine, lawyers and judges, and a theater mogul.
Drawing on new sources, including NYPD case files and court records, and overlooked evidence discovered years later, Riegel pieces together the puzzle of what likely happened to Joseph Crater and why. To uncover the mystery, he delves into Crater’s ascension into the scintillating and corrupt world of Manhattan in the Roaring Twenties and Jazz Age. In turn, the story of the judge’s vanishing amid the Great Depression unfolds as a harbinger of the disappearance of his lost metropolis and its transformation into modern-day New York City.
Stephen J. Riegel is a practicing litigator and former federal prosecutor in New York City who appears in some of the same courts Crater did. He also has degrees in American history from Princeton University and Stanford University. He has published articles on legal history.
6 x 9, 304 pages, 13 black and white illustrations