In his second collection of connected essays, Chicago cop Martin Preib takes on seemingly unrelated murder cases, all dating from one year, 1982, including some in which offenders were released as part of the wrongful conviction movement.
The murder case against James Ealy haunts Preib. Ealy, a 17-year-old in the west side projects, is convicted of strangling a family of four, but later released on appeal. Ealy eventually strikes again. As Preib researches the case, he struggles to understand how and why the city released Ealy from the original conviction.
The Ealy case leads Preib into the grisly underground of other 1982 murders, especially the case against Anthony Porter, sent to death row for killing a couple in a park and then 16 years later released, with the help of The Innocence Project at Northwestern University, when another man was said to have confessed to the crime. The media frenzy attending Porter’s release did not follow him into his civil case for damages against the city, a case the police officers pressed to have tried, and which Porter lost after the defense convinced the jury that the case for Porter’s innocence was, at best, fatally flawed.
In Crooked City, Preib always walks a tightrope between self-deprecating humor and stark revelations told in powerful language as he takes readers along on his journey through incredulity and doubt to conviction that killers are being turned loose on the streets of Chicago, and ultimately to his sense of the disturbing way the city works, and why.
This book shatters reader assumptions—about the workings of justice, the objectivity of the media, and the role of the police in the city of Chicago, even calling into question allegations of police torture in the notorious cases against Jon Burge. Told in the gripping tension of a crime novel, Preib strives for the highest language as he wanders these brutal, controversial killings.
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