How did the most popular girl in town and her ex-fiancee wind up dead in her locked bedroom?
In 1922, all Max Hurlock and his wife Allison wanted was a quiet life on Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay, but a late night visit from an old friend plunges them into a baffling double murder in a locked room. Along the way they encounter speakeasies, flappers, bathtub gin, bootleggers and a future TV star in a case that seems to have more questions than answers. To make matters worse, the killer strikes again and a suspicious local police chief arrests Max for the murder!
And that’s just in the first three days.
Will Max stay out of jail long enough to solve the case?
Based on a real case that is still controversial, Death of a Flapper takes you to a world of Prohibition, bathtub gin, jazz, flappers and Model Ts.
Behind the Scenes:
The story behind Death of a Flapper
Death of a Flapper is fiction, but it was inspired by a real life crime; the Wilson- Roberts case of 1929 in Moorestown , New Jersey.
Ruth Wilson and Horace Roberts had been engaged, but she had broken it off. Roberts had become despondent and depressed, but kept visiting Wilson, hoping to change her mind.
Just after midnight on the night of June 1, 1929 wealthy Moorestown attorney and financier John Wilson and his wife were returning home after playing cards with friends and found daughter Ruth’s bedroom door locked. When they were able to enter they found daughter Ruth and Horace Roberts laying on the bed and rapidly dying from multiple gunshots to the head. Both died without speaking.
The locked room seemed to indicate suicide, while the multiple gunshot wounds pointed towards murder. Ellis Parker, the well respected New Jersey detective investigated and pronounced the case a murder-suicide.
Bradway Brown, who lived across the street from the Wilsons, was a friend and former suitor of Ruth Wilson, and a classmate of Horace Roberts. Brown hinted to friends that there was more to the story, but the inquest was complete and it would take something startling to open it up again.
Almost four years later, Bradway Brown was found shot to death in his home with a pistol in his hand. Ellis Parker investigated that case as well.
Despite a second sensational murder, and another inquest, the Wilson-Roberts case was finally closed for good, even though the whole sequence of events seemed so unlikely and so many loose ends and unanswered questions appeared to hang over it.
Was it a double murder, a murder/suicide, or something else entirely?
I first became aware of the Wilson Roberts case as part of my research for Master Detective, but I was contacted later by a Moorestown resident who gave me a lot more information. The case was so interesting, but the resolution so unsatisfying that it seems ready made for a fictional treatment. The 1920s were a rip roaring era on Maryland’s Eastern Shore where I live, so I combined the themes and the Hurlocks were born.
The Hurlocks and Maryland’s Eastern Shore-
The Eastern Shore is the part of Maryland that is East of the Chesapeake Bay. Hurlock is the name of a small town in the heart of the Eastern Shore, and Max is from Macks Road, another local feature. Max and Allison live just south of St Michaels, near Claiborne, the old Chesapeake Bay steamboat landing. The house where they live and where the case really starts for them is based on a bed and breakfast called Claiborne Cottage by the Bay in Claiborne , Maryland.
Max is an Eastern Shore native who graduated from the University of Maryland in Engineering before joining the Navy in World War 1. While a lowly Ensign,Max solved a murder on his ship and everyone began calling him Sherlock Hurlock. Since returning to civilian life and marrying Allison, Max fnds his reptation as a detective growing and more and more clients seem to find their way down the oyster shell road and up to his door. Allison is a Goucher graduate from Towson who writes free lance magazine articles and has literary aspirations. Max’s country boy ways sometimes don’t quite mesh with Allison’s big city sophistication, but together they make a great team.