The Ghosts of Eden Park by Karen Abbott (Review by Missi Gwartney)

2 min read

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.0

It’s the 1920’s and with the recent passage of The Volstead Act, which “prohibited the manufacture, sale or transportation of alcohol to, from, or within the United States”, one would assume prohibition is the new way of life. However, with the right connections, a willingness to overlook the law, and deep pockets you could get your hands on liquor. The Ghosts of Eden Park is the true story of George Remus and his fast-paced climb to a very successful bootlegging business.

George Remus was no stranger to hard work but nothing ever seemed to be his “it” in life. He was always searching for something better and to “update” his life and it was from prospective clients during his law career that the idea of bootlegging now entertained him. Remus was quick to act and developed his “Circle” which launched him into the bootlegging community as one of the most prominent and profitable in the northern part of the country.

Along for the ride was his new wife Imogene, who was the one person that Remus trusted completely. Remus had also made several contacts with government officials and routinely “paid” them visits to ensure his business remained off their radar. But, just as Remus seemed unstoppable and to be living a life of luxury, his empire is threatened and Remus begins to wonder if this is the one time he can’t buy his way out…

Mrs. Mabel Walker Willebrandt, the new Assistant Attorney General, out to prove a woman could be successful in Washington and bringing down George Remus would be just the highlight she needed. Willebrandt, along with her trusted investigator Franklin Dodge, are “successful” in convicting Remus but cannot possibly foresee all that is to come with Remus in jail. This “success” leads to fierce allegations and consequences that reach far beyond Remus and even a murder that no one saw coming.

While many times, I find non-fiction stories a bit slow but this was a pleasant surprise. Karen Abbott writes with such attention to detail that it drew me in instantly and at times I forgot it was a true story. I found myself unable to put it down because I couldn’t wait to find out how it all ends. She uses quotes and actual trial testimony throughout the book and at times felt like I was sitting in the courtroom. I loved following the characters throughout the story and found myself empathetic in one chapter and despising them in the next. Even if non-fiction doesn’t appeal to you, I’d highly recommend giving this book a try. After all, it was nicknamed the “Roaring 20’s” for a reason.

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