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Review

A TALENT TO DECEIVE

 

Author:
William Norris

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 man executed?

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

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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.

~Arthur Peterson

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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

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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

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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

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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.

~Curt Hinckley

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I find [this] subject so fascinating that I keep arrowing up to go back to another spot to make sure I got the information right.

~ Susanne Campbell

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It's a great book!

~ Michael Melsky

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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

 

 
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