A TALENT TO DECEIVE
I am old enough to remember the kidnapping and
murder of the world-famous Lindbergh's baby son. It was 1932 and I was
about ten years old. When a German carpenter, Bruno Hautmann, was
charged with the crimes the American press heralded it as 'The Trial of
the Century'. H.L. Menken, the much admired journalist of his day, went
further. He called it 'The greatest story since the Resurrection.' God
knows what he would have called the first landing on the moon.
Undoubtedly the Lindbergh 'kidnapping' (I now use
the word advisedly) was a very bid news story not only in the USA but
across Europe and beyond, for Lindbergh was perhaps the biggest
celebrity alive in his day - the most famous aviator in the world
because he was the first to fly solo across the Atlantic. And it has
since become perhaps the most discussed trial - the mis-trial one has
to say - in history. The Internet provides a host of websites on the
subject. One can even listen to the 70-year old recording of Hauptmann
himself pleading his innocence. It is haunting and sad.But for all that
has been written - and Ludo Kennedy has also tackled the subject in his
time - no one has been able to pinpoint with any accuracy who the true
murderer was. But Norris does, convincingly.
Lindbergh himself was guilty too, of murder in
knowingly allowing an innocent man to be sent to the electric chair.
Lindbergh proves to have been a despicable person who not only fathered
seven 'illegitimate' children (as they used to be called) but was a
Nazi sympathiser; a friend of Hitler. Not the stuff of which true
heroes are made. In A Talent to Deceive Norris shows a talent to
enthrall, for from page one to the last sentence on page 343 the reader
will want to know "what next?" It truly is a most extraordinary and
ghastly tale of miscarriage of justice. It seems anyone who wanted to
get in on the act could do so - providing he was willing to lie to
ensure that Hauptmann would be found guilty. For instance, there was
the New York Daily News reporter who admitted later that it was he who
got inside the Hauptmann home, after the arrest, and wrote vital
information on the inside of a cupboard door as if Hauptmann has
written it, faking an 'exclusive' news story. Yet those words became
vital 'evidence' since they gave the name and telephone number of the
man who handed over the ransom money (in the presence of Lindbergh
himself) to a shadowy figure at a meeting in the dark in a cemetery.
Lindbergh, half deaf, and seated in a car 70 yards away, claimed to
have heard a single remark by the kidnapper which he later identified
as being the voice of Hauptmann. That Lindbergh was an unmitigated liar
is proven beyond doubt. Which is why he is guilty of murder, too. But
why would Lindbergh lie? Why would he help which up public hysteria and
encourage people to give false testimony in order to get an innocent
That's the revelation made in his book, written
after 15 years of research, and it would spoil the reading of it to
give the answers here.
~ Frank Miles, ITN Journal
As in the incomparable The Man Who Fell
From the Sky, I admired William's literary detective skills
and his magnificent narrative flow. ... I think it would have
tremendous appeal to my generation of aviation buffs many of whom have
found Lindbergh both a hero and an enigma.
I am up to Chapter 16, and am extremely
enthusiastic about the book. The cast of characters, some of them
household names, and [the] descriptions of them, are fantastic.
~ Harold Leiendecker
I enjoyed A Talent to Deceive.
William's passion for the subject as well as the incredible amount of
research involved both came through in an appealing way in the writing.
~ Ernest Mahaffey
I did enjoy [this book] very much. The most
memorable passage for me was when William was "run out of town" in NY
trying to follow CALs visit to the mental institution.
~ Rick Green
I am enjoying it thoroughly. There is a level of
suspense that really keeps me going as I try to thread my way through
the various characters and situations. I must be honest and say I
didn't really think I'd get involved in the story, but your writing and
approach to all the pieces which need to be blended together are most
intriguing. It's not the solution to the mystery which pushes me on but
rather your style and ability to move forward with a kind of push-pull
manner in which you push on and then pull back to assemble pieces
before pushing on again.
I find [this] subject so fascinating that I keep
arrowing up to go back to another spot to make sure I got the
~ Susanne Campbell
It's a great book!
~ Michael Melsky
This is fascinating. I recall my parents discussing
the newspaper articles and the publicity surrounding his execution.
Your writing style creates great suspense.
~ Robert Siver