Murder, Mayhem, and the Invention of The Great Gatsby

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The autumn of 1922, F. Scott Fitzgerald returned to New York for the publication of his fourth book, Tales of the Jazz Age. The Fitzgeralds’ arrival coincided with another event: the discovery of a brutal double murder in nearby New Jersey, a crime made all the more horrible by the police investigation—which failed to accomplish anything beyond generating enormous publicity for the newfound celebrity participants. The Mills-Hall murder has been wholly forgotten today, but the enormous impact of this bizarre crime can still be seen in The Great Gatsby. Sarah Churchwell combines a forensic search for clues to an unsolved crime and an examination of the roots of America’s best loved novel in her book Careless People: Murder, Mayhem, and the Invention of The Great Gatsby.

Director Baz Luhrmann's film adaptation of The Great Gatsby was released last summer.