"An intriguing and substantial chronicle of the once-notorious disappearance of Judge Joseph F. Crater in 1930. Riegel has done voluminous research into primary sources and documents and interviewed one of the last living key witnesses. His book offers an intriguing hypothesis regarding an enduring mystery of Jazz Age Manhattan."—Burton Peretti, author of Nightclub City: Politics and Amusement in Manhattan
"Riegel sheds new light on one of the most-sensational missing person’s cases in the US in the twentieth century. With his deep knowledge of New York politics and its judicial system, 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
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 in the first year of 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 litigation attorney practicing in New York and New Jersey, of counsel to law firms, and a former federal prosecutor with the US Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn.
6 x 9, 280 pages, 11 black and white illustrations