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Murder Among Friends: How Leopold and Loeb Tried to Commit the Perfect Crime

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How did two teenagers brutally murder an innocent child...and why? And how did their brilliant lawyer save them from the death penalty in 1920s Chicago? Written by a prolific master of narrative nonfiction, this is a compulsively readable true-crime story based on an event dubbed the crime of the century. In 1924, eighteen-year-old college students Nathan Leopold and Richar How did two teenagers brutally murder an innocent child...and why? And how did their brilliant lawyer save them from the death penalty in 1920s Chicago? Written by a prolific master of narrative nonfiction, this is a compulsively readable true-crime story based on an event dubbed the crime of the century. In 1924, eighteen-year-old college students Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb made a decision: they would commit the perfect crime by kidnapping and murdering a child they both knew. But they made one crucial error: as they were disposing of the body of young Bobby Franks, whom they had bludgeoned to death, Nathan's eyeglasses fell from his jacket pocket. Multi-award-winning author Candace Fleming depicts every twist and turn of this harrowing case--how two wealthy, brilliant young men planned and committed what became known as the crime of the century, how they were caught, why they confessed, and how the renowned criminal defense attorney Clarence Darrow enabled them to avoid the death penalty. Following on the success of such books as The Rise and Fall of Charles Lindbergh and The Family Romanov, this acclaimed nonfiction writer brings to heart-stopping life one of the most notorious crimes in our country's history.


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How did two teenagers brutally murder an innocent child...and why? And how did their brilliant lawyer save them from the death penalty in 1920s Chicago? Written by a prolific master of narrative nonfiction, this is a compulsively readable true-crime story based on an event dubbed the crime of the century. In 1924, eighteen-year-old college students Nathan Leopold and Richar How did two teenagers brutally murder an innocent child...and why? And how did their brilliant lawyer save them from the death penalty in 1920s Chicago? Written by a prolific master of narrative nonfiction, this is a compulsively readable true-crime story based on an event dubbed the crime of the century. In 1924, eighteen-year-old college students Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb made a decision: they would commit the perfect crime by kidnapping and murdering a child they both knew. But they made one crucial error: as they were disposing of the body of young Bobby Franks, whom they had bludgeoned to death, Nathan's eyeglasses fell from his jacket pocket. Multi-award-winning author Candace Fleming depicts every twist and turn of this harrowing case--how two wealthy, brilliant young men planned and committed what became known as the crime of the century, how they were caught, why they confessed, and how the renowned criminal defense attorney Clarence Darrow enabled them to avoid the death penalty. Following on the success of such books as The Rise and Fall of Charles Lindbergh and The Family Romanov, this acclaimed nonfiction writer brings to heart-stopping life one of the most notorious crimes in our country's history.

30 review for Murder Among Friends: How Leopold and Loeb Tried to Commit the Perfect Crime

  1. 4 out of 5

    Chelsea | thrillerbookbabe

    Thank you so much to Penguin Audio for my ALC of Murder Among Friends. This is a case I didn’t know much about and it was very interesting to listen to. It was about Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb and their decision to kidnap and murder a child in 1924. They thought they could pull off the perfect crime, but while getting rid of the body, Nathan’s eyeglasses fell out of his jacket pocket. This book follows the case of how two rich and educated men planned and committed the “crime of the century Thank you so much to Penguin Audio for my ALC of Murder Among Friends. This is a case I didn’t know much about and it was very interesting to listen to. It was about Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb and their decision to kidnap and murder a child in 1924. They thought they could pull off the perfect crime, but while getting rid of the body, Nathan’s eyeglasses fell out of his jacket pocket. This book follows the case of how two rich and educated men planned and committed the “crime of the century”. It goes into detail on how they were caught, why they confessed, and how they hired a renowned criminal defense attorney to escape the death penalty. Thoughts: I had never heard about this case before I read this book. I was grabbed by the phrase “crime of the century” and loved hearing about the Chicago suburbs since my family is from there. It was like a car crash where I couldn’t look away- I had to keep reading no matter how depraved the book got. Nathan and Richard were disturbing and pretty evil, and wanted to kill for the “adventure” of it. The book was well-researched and fast-paced, making it an easy and intriguing read. I liked the point the author made about these boys getting away without receiving the death penalty because they were rich and educated. There were many cases near the same time where the person got the death penalty because they couldn’t afford such a prominent lawyer. It was also wild to hear about how the lawyer changed their plea from not guilty to guilty in order to get away from a jury and only have to convince the judge that they shouldn’t get the death penalty. It was a fascinating and dark story, and the dynamic between Nathan and Richard was unique and intriguing. 4 stars!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Trin

    A solid telling of the story of Leopold & Loeb -- a case I realized I'd very much melded in my mind with the fictionalized version in Rope, so it was good to get the facts straightened out. In reality, the pair's attempt at a "perfect murder" is even more gross, pathetic, and juvenile than in Hitchcock's film. I have appreciated recent reexaminations of killers like Ted Bundy, for example, that have torn apart the myth of their "perverse genius" -- Bundy was an idiot who just got lucky for far t A solid telling of the story of Leopold & Loeb -- a case I realized I'd very much melded in my mind with the fictionalized version in Rope, so it was good to get the facts straightened out. In reality, the pair's attempt at a "perfect murder" is even more gross, pathetic, and juvenile than in Hitchcock's film. I have appreciated recent reexaminations of killers like Ted Bundy, for example, that have torn apart the myth of their "perverse genius" -- Bundy was an idiot who just got lucky for far too long because of police incompetence. Similarly, Leopold & Loeb's murder was about as "imperfect" (taking "perfect" to mean "clever") as it can be. They, fortunately, were swiftly caught. None of this is really Fleming's thesis, however; I'm not sure she has one: she's basically doing a workmanlike recounting of the facts, which is fine. A few authorial tics did bug me: most significantly, her use of the epithet "the teenager(s)" to describe Leopold and/or Loeb. This occurs so often it started to make me grind my teeth. She also leans a bit heavily into the idea that both boys were warped by their evil governesses in a way that starts to feel tropey. Also she reasserts the analysis from the time that Loeb was a psychopath -- a diagnosis of questionable use, in my opinion, and especially coming from psychiatrists who also thought that Leopold's homosexuality was a mental illness or a moral perversion. This book is definitely more of a retelling than a reexamination. But it's still solid, and I'm glad to have the true story decoupled in my mind from Hitchcock's more glamorous version. (Although P.S.: also rewatched Rope; it doesn't hold up all that well.)

  3. 4 out of 5

    DaNae

    I’m not sure I really wanted to read this book, but once begun I could hardly put it down. Fleming in a master at putting real events in a context, compelling, stark and relentless.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Chandra Claypool (WhereTheReaderGrows)

    Like anyone who is interested in and fascinated by true crime, I've read about Leopold and Loeb many times. Psychopathic teens who killed a kid just because they felt like it. Calculating, pompous, entitled and lacking in emotional maturity... or emotions in general, these two will always have a strong spot in the history of true crime. And for good reason. Perhaps you have heard of them too? Or have at least watched Murder by Numbers... a film loosely based on the two (which was just ok). The au Like anyone who is interested in and fascinated by true crime, I've read about Leopold and Loeb many times. Psychopathic teens who killed a kid just because they felt like it. Calculating, pompous, entitled and lacking in emotional maturity... or emotions in general, these two will always have a strong spot in the history of true crime. And for good reason. Perhaps you have heard of them too? Or have at least watched Murder by Numbers... a film loosely based on the two (which was just ok). The audio is great - Angela Dawe is a fantastic narrator. Even though I knew this story, it was fun to listen and get a little bit of a different view. It was obvious that there was a lack of emotion - that they almost knew *how* they were supposed to act as opposed to naturally being this way. Such began the journey to make sure they don't get the death penalty. A turning point and start for the insanity defense. Nature vs. nuture. While both barely adults (at the age of eighteen) certainly had their differences, they were extremely loyal to each other. Together as a team, they felt invincible. Honestly, if you enjoy true crime, definitely pick this one up. The story still fascinates me to this day.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Barb Middleton

    Pretty gruesome true crime book. Well-written but for a mature reader.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Richie Partington

    Richie’s Picks: MURDER AMONG FRIENDS: HOW LEOPOLD AND LOEB TRIED TO COMMIT THE PERFECT CRIME by Candace Fleming, Random House/Anne Schwartz, March 2022, 368p., ISBN: 978-0-593-17742-6 “Because it’s murder by numbers, one, two, three It’s as easy to learn as your ABCs” – The Police (1983) “On the morning of Wednesday, May 21, 1924, Chicagoans opened their morning newspapers to learn that baseball slugger Babe Ruth had joined the New York Army National Guard; President Calvin Coolidge had taken a chlo Richie’s Picks: MURDER AMONG FRIENDS: HOW LEOPOLD AND LOEB TRIED TO COMMIT THE PERFECT CRIME by Candace Fleming, Random House/Anne Schwartz, March 2022, 368p., ISBN: 978-0-593-17742-6 “Because it’s murder by numbers, one, two, three It’s as easy to learn as your ABCs” – The Police (1983) “On the morning of Wednesday, May 21, 1924, Chicagoans opened their morning newspapers to learn that baseball slugger Babe Ruth had joined the New York Army National Guard; President Calvin Coolidge had taken a chlorine-gas cure for his sore throat; and movie director Cecil B. DeMille’s sweeping silent film The Ten Commandments was opening at a movie house in the city’s Loop. Also in the news was a story about an attempted police raid on a bootleg brewery in the city. Tipped off by a ‘bought’ cop, the gangsters had dumped the incriminating evidence–thousands of gallons of beer–into the sewer just before the police arrived. Within minutes, a five-foot-tall geyser of beer had spewed into the air from a manhole. It lasted for more than an hour. In the Kenwood neighborhood, the Leopolds’ chauffeur, Sven Englund, went downstairs to the garage and–as he did every weekday morning at seven-thirty–started Nathan’s Willys-Knight [automobile]. Englund drove it around to the side door. Moments later, Nathan got into it. He had a big day ahead, starting with an eight o’clock criminal law class, followed by a nine o’clock lecture on nineteenth-century French poets, and then another law class at ten. After that, he and Richard would commit murder. Nathan put the car in gear. He sped off to campus.” Which would be tougher to confront–being the parent of a murdered child, or being a parent whose teen is making national headlines for murdering a neighbor’s child–just for the thrill of it? As a parent, the nightmare-inducing MURDER AMONG FRIENDS is a pretty tough book for me to write about. As a father, I’ve always wanted the best for my kids: contentment; good health; self-worth; and feeling loved. A good education; a rewarding career; a great partner; and maybe, one day, children of their own. Most teens who read MURDER AMONG FRIENDS will not have confronted the humbling experience of being a parent and making parenting mistakes. It will be easy for them to criticize the way that Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb’s respective parents raised them, or, more specifically, how the parents hired servants to raise them. After all, Nathan and Richard were scions of two of the wealthiest men in 1920s Chicago. These men could afford governesses and provide their kids with monthly allowances that, in equivalent dollars, exceed many family incomes today. Yes, Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb murdered the child Bobby Franks, Loeb’s neighbor and second cousin, just for the hell of it. The murderous teens certainly did not need the ransom money they demanded, but it was a significant aspect of their exciting adventure. It was fun for them to create a series of clues that could have led to a big payout, had they not gotten caught. Because Leopold and Lowe confessed to the crime, the criminal legal proceedings that ensued inevitably focused on whether the pair would be hanged for the murder, or whether they would receive life sentences. But this is where the parents’ wealth figured mightily. Their parents hired legendary attorney Clarence Darrow, who becomes a pivotal character in this unbelievable-but-true piece of history. Knowing some barebones basics of criminal procedure will be sufficient to cause readers to gasp about the manner in which the press and other visitors had frequent, unsupervised access to the prisoners, and how law enforcement and the press worked together. Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb were seriously disturbed young people. As the author, at one point, concludes, Nathan had a psychotic disorder that might have been treatable with today’s medications and therapies. And as for Loeb, “The same cannot be said for Richard, whom psychiatrists would most certainly diagnose as a psychopath. His symptoms were classic. Psychopathy is characterized by superficial charm, poor judgment, and a failure to learn from experiences. Psychopaths are attention-seekers and thrill-seekers. They lack remorse or shame, have a grandiose sense of themselves, lie pathologically, and are cunning and manipulative. Other people are merely objects to be used for the psychopath’s benefit. Psychopaths are coldhearted and calculating.” Candace Fleming has won many awards for her nonfiction work. The depth of research that has gone into this one is stunning. A sophisticated and troubling tale, I’d recommend MURDER AMONG FRIENDS for high school students. It would also be a good recommendation for any brilliant and mature middle schoolers who will be able to understand the influence of Friedrich Nietzsche, whose theories were embraced by Nathan Leopold, and whose work is repeatedly alluded to. Arguably the most ambitious and powerful work to date undertaken by Ms. Fleming, MURDER AMONG FRIENDS is one hell of a ride. Richie Partington, MLIS Richie's Picks http://richiespicks.pbworks.com https://www.facebook.com/richiespicks/ https://twitter.com/richiespicks [email protected]

  7. 4 out of 5

    Aud

    Definitely a teen-read that I won't be handing my almost 11 year old nephew just yet: it'll keep for a couple of years. But still, so, so good. The facts of the case and how they were discovered by law enforcement were clearly laid out, and the overall historical importance of the trial was also well stated. I haven't read a ton of true crime, but I generally love Candace Fleming, and this one didn't let me down. Definitely a teen-read that I won't be handing my almost 11 year old nephew just yet: it'll keep for a couple of years. But still, so, so good. The facts of the case and how they were discovered by law enforcement were clearly laid out, and the overall historical importance of the trial was also well stated. I haven't read a ton of true crime, but I generally love Candace Fleming, and this one didn't let me down.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Shella

    Another excellent narrative nonfiction book from Fleming. Even though I had watched a documentary on this topic, I learned so much. Last fall, my 6th graders did a nonfiction book club. Fleming's Curse of the Mummy was one of the most popular titles. It is stunning that Fleming has another great title out so early in 2022. This is impeccably researched. It is a gruesome crime that has sexual references. Even though The Borden Murders, by Miller, has been very popular with my higher reading sixth Another excellent narrative nonfiction book from Fleming. Even though I had watched a documentary on this topic, I learned so much. Last fall, my 6th graders did a nonfiction book club. Fleming's Curse of the Mummy was one of the most popular titles. It is stunning that Fleming has another great title out so early in 2022. This is impeccably researched. It is a gruesome crime that has sexual references. Even though The Borden Murders, by Miller, has been very popular with my higher reading sixth graders, I have not decided if this would be an appropriate choice as an option for sixth graders. Many of them watch Criminal Minds etc. type TV shows. I always ask students to bring parent permission notes and all parents have always agreed to the choices I have given the students. I hope this will at least get some Newbery consideration. It fits the upper range of Newbery. In the last few years, there have been very few nonfiction titles given consideration. Great nonfiction is so important for middle schoolers. Students come in thinking all nonfiction is boring. Most of the time the students' only experience with nonfiction is sitting around a horseshoe shaped table reading boring nonfiction with a letter on the back. Even though this is controversial subject matter for younger students, I am sure there are many middle school readers that will dive in and realize that well-written nonfiction can be captivating. I am thankful for authors like Fleming, for giving us great books to assist children to love nonfiction.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kriss

    I read this for a class, it wasn't my kind of book, I'm not into true crime, or history, or very much non-fiction. But this book was really good and I read it in one sitting. I wondered how she had so much detail on them for the first half or so of the book, but then you get to after they get arrested, and it makes sense. I liked how the author efficiently and effectively explained the attitudes of the day and the knowledge level of forensics of the day. I recently read Man From the Train, which I read this for a class, it wasn't my kind of book, I'm not into true crime, or history, or very much non-fiction. But this book was really good and I read it in one sitting. I wondered how she had so much detail on them for the first half or so of the book, but then you get to after they get arrested, and it makes sense. I liked how the author efficiently and effectively explained the attitudes of the day and the knowledge level of forensics of the day. I recently read Man From the Train, which is set during the same period, well, a little earlier but pretty close, and this was similar. Both are worth reading.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    Known as the Crime of the Century, two privileged teenagers set out to execute the perfect crime in May 1924. Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb were nineteen and eighteen, respectively, when they hatched their plot, ending up kidnapping and killing 14-year-old Bobby Franks, just for the thrill of it. They were certain that they'd dotted all the i's and crossed all the t's and would have no problem getting away with murder. After all, they were the sons of wealthy parents, lived in Kenwood, one of Known as the Crime of the Century, two privileged teenagers set out to execute the perfect crime in May 1924. Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb were nineteen and eighteen, respectively, when they hatched their plot, ending up kidnapping and killing 14-year-old Bobby Franks, just for the thrill of it. They were certain that they'd dotted all the i's and crossed all the t's and would have no problem getting away with murder. After all, they were the sons of wealthy parents, lived in Kenwood, one of the best neighborhoods in Chicago, and they'd gotten away with other indiscretions in the past. But they made mistakes, including sending a ransom note and leaving a pair of eyeglasses at the crime scene. Although the Chicago police at that time weren't known for their efficiency or trustworthiness, in this case, they prevailed, and the two boys were arrested and brought to trial. Author Candace Fleming excels in the writing of narrative nonfiction, and this book is no exception. She provides interesting details about the plans for the crime, the actual murder itself, and the aftermath, including the trial, presided over by Judge John Caverly with famed attorney Clarence Darrow working for the defense. Readers will be interested in some of the arguments made by the prosecution attorney Robert Crowe as well as by the defense team and the desperate decision that prevented them from being given the death penalty. In many respects, the sensational trial, which drew mobs desperate to enter the courtroom or hear the verdict, is even more interesting than the crime itself. While refusing to let the two young men escape blame for their crime, Fleming spends some time exploring the boys' relationships with their families and friends or acquaintances as well as placing some responsibility on the influence of their governesses during their formative years. But in many respects, it seems clear that it is the relationship the boys had with each other that inevitably sparked the murder. It's impossible not to wonder if there would ever have been a murder had their paths not crossed--or would they have found someone else just as sympathetic and jaded to do the deed with them. With several archival photographs, almost 50 pages of notes and sources, this book is backed by thorough research and the always pitch-perfect writing of Fleming. Readers will feel as though they are in the Chicago area in 1924, racing through the streets in flashy cars, presenting one face to the public and another one in private, believing in their own superiority. I've said it before, and I'll reiterate it here: When it comes to narrative nonfiction and complex stories and personalities, a book by Candace Fleming is a sure bet.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Bange

    Candace Fleming is at her best in this compelling nonfictional account of the murder of Bobby Franks by Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, scions of two of the wealthiest men in Chicago in the 1920's. (I couldn't put it down - it was a like a train wreck that you just can't help stopping to take in the details...) Opening with the actual kidnapping and murder, the book jumps back in time to their formative years of privilege. These two young men experienced very troubling childhoods; their upbringi Candace Fleming is at her best in this compelling nonfictional account of the murder of Bobby Franks by Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, scions of two of the wealthiest men in Chicago in the 1920's. (I couldn't put it down - it was a like a train wreck that you just can't help stopping to take in the details...) Opening with the actual kidnapping and murder, the book jumps back in time to their formative years of privilege. These two young men experienced very troubling childhoods; their upbringing was handed over to their governesses who abused them. They became co-dependent parts of a whole. With Leopold's book smarts and Loeb's manipulative street smarts, the two young - in their late teens - plotted together to commit "the perfect murder", thinking they would get away with it. Their arrest, trial by judge, and conviction was a sensation across the country at that time. Fleming does a stellar job of fleshing out not only the lives of these two mentally/emotionally disturbed young men, but also of the time period and place they lived - showing the odd (by today's standards) relationship between the police and press and the expectations of society at the time. She goes step-by-step to demonstrate how their hubris informed their actions and, ultimately, lead to their downfall. The details included are what makes this such compelling reading and include quotations from sources discovered during the extensive research Fleming conducted - books by Clarence Darrow, Leopold, and one of the defense psychiatrists, newspaper and magazine articles from the time period, notes from interviews of the two young men and people that knew them, and trial transcripts. True crime fans will salivate over this one. For mature readers, grade 8 up.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sunday

    WOW. A fast paced, page-turning thriller. So many themes - the mind of a psychopath in pursuit of adventure, the role of journalism in swaying people's opinions about a case, the evolutions of guardrails in the justice system, the treatment of youth in the criminal system, the perception of homosexuality and mental illness just a century ago. HIGHLY RECOMMEND book talking for your YA students. Read aloud the first five pages and someone will want to grab it up to read. BTW Candace Fleming's resea WOW. A fast paced, page-turning thriller. So many themes - the mind of a psychopath in pursuit of adventure, the role of journalism in swaying people's opinions about a case, the evolutions of guardrails in the justice system, the treatment of youth in the criminal system, the perception of homosexuality and mental illness just a century ago. HIGHLY RECOMMEND book talking for your YA students. Read aloud the first five pages and someone will want to grab it up to read. BTW Candace Fleming's research is always thorough and her ability to pull extensive research into a cohesive, compelling narrative is amazing!!!! Highly recommend her author books.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kristen

    This book is excellent: compelling, hard to put down, and about something I knew nothing about. It’s also about two young men who decided, for fun and thrills, to kill a child. So it’s gruesome reading and my ambivalence about true crime came up a lot while reading. But I also couldn’t look away and couldn’t stop sharing facts about the case with my fiancé. I would recommend this to older teens and adults who like true crime.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Lynn

    Outstanding and fascinating story of Leopold and Loeb. I couldn’t wait to find time to read it once I started. So well written.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Shauna Yusko

    Another excellent Candace Fleming nonfiction!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Maureen Lubitz

    Originally posted on You Have Your Hands Full Before reading this book, I had only a vague familiarity with the Leopold & Loeb case. I was excited about the opportunity gain a greater understanding of both the events that led up to the case as well as the trial/aftermath. I found this book to be thorough and engaging. Fleming weaves a compelling narrative that follows the two young men from their separate precocious childhoods, through their tumultuous friendship, and eventually to their murder p Originally posted on You Have Your Hands Full Before reading this book, I had only a vague familiarity with the Leopold & Loeb case. I was excited about the opportunity gain a greater understanding of both the events that led up to the case as well as the trial/aftermath. I found this book to be thorough and engaging. Fleming weaves a compelling narrative that follows the two young men from their separate precocious childhoods, through their tumultuous friendship, and eventually to their murder pact. I knew that Clarence Darrow defended Leopold & Loeb, but I didn’t know about the interesting parallel between his defense and the infamous affluenza defense almost a hundred years later. Nor did I know about the outcome of the trial, which surprised me. The book is written for a young adult audience, but it never felt juvenile to me—nor did I get the sense that details were being imparted for the sole purpose of being sensationalistic. Yes, the facts of the case—two extremely privileged young men killing a younger boy just to see if they could get away with this—are inescapably sensationalistic, but it’s important to convey information without being lurid for the sake of being lurid. And this book achieves that goal effortlessly. I would absolutely recommend Murder Among Friends. This book will appeal to true crime fans, and while some of the details might not be appropriate for precocious readers, it’s perfect for teen readers. I am looking forward to more fascinating nonfiction from Fleming in the future. I received a digital ARC of this book from Random House Children’s/NetGalley

  17. 4 out of 5

    Courtney Anderson

    Thanks to NetGalley for an arc in exchange for an honest opinion. Wow. I am not a nonfiction person, but I was intrigued by the idea that the event was dubbed the "crime of the century". The story involves Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold, two teens who tried to commit the perfect murder and got caught. And although Illinois at the time held the death penalty for murder, their lawyer, Clarence Darrow, got them off on life in prison. This was such a fascinating story. We learn about the upbringing o Thanks to NetGalley for an arc in exchange for an honest opinion. Wow. I am not a nonfiction person, but I was intrigued by the idea that the event was dubbed the "crime of the century". The story involves Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold, two teens who tried to commit the perfect murder and got caught. And although Illinois at the time held the death penalty for murder, their lawyer, Clarence Darrow, got them off on life in prison. This was such a fascinating story. We learn about the upbringing of these two boys and of their complex and co-dependent relationship with each other. Based on the personalities of both boys, it was determined that each boy revered the other in some way that made the them dependent on each other for committing the murder. In other words, separately, neither of them would have gone through with committing a murder. I found the dynamic of their relationship to be incredibly intriguing. And while everyone believed that Nathan and Richard were sane in their decision to commit murder, Clarence Darrow did the unthinkable and with the help of new age psychologists, he was able to argue that the boys themselves were mentally disabled based on their upbringing and other neurological abnormalities. It was a complete risk having the boys plead guilty in order to avoid a trial by jury and then to prove that the boys more or less had psychopathic tendencies. By pleading guilty, Darrow only had to argue his case in front of the judge, instead of putting the fate of the boys' hands in twelve jurors. It was interesting how Darrow's argument made parents question how they raised their children and how to recognize mental disabilities. Essentially, Darrow argued that based on these two boys mental psychosis, it was inevitable that they would end up killing someone. He also believed punishing death with death was a vicious cycle and did not accomplish anything. He was well known for his lengthy and passionate closing statements. The whole story was completely fascinating from how the boys planned to commit the perfect murder, to how they eventually got caught and confessed, to how they managed to avoid the death penalty. I highly recommend this piece of nonfiction!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    When Candace Fleming writes narrative non-fiction, you are in for a meticulously researched book that leaves no stone unturned.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Patricia Powell

    In a 1924 wealthy neighborhood of Chicago, Nathan Leopold, 19, and Richard Loeb, 18, randomly murdered Bobbie Franks, 14, to show they could execute the perfect crime. In “Murder Among Friends” (Anne Schwartz Books 2022) the award-winning nonfiction author Candace Fleming tells of the family lives of each perpetrator as well as that of the victim in Kenwood, saving the details of the crime to be woven into the description of the arrest and trial in which the renowned Clarence Darrow served as th In a 1924 wealthy neighborhood of Chicago, Nathan Leopold, 19, and Richard Loeb, 18, randomly murdered Bobbie Franks, 14, to show they could execute the perfect crime. In “Murder Among Friends” (Anne Schwartz Books 2022) the award-winning nonfiction author Candace Fleming tells of the family lives of each perpetrator as well as that of the victim in Kenwood, saving the details of the crime to be woven into the description of the arrest and trial in which the renowned Clarence Darrow served as the defendants’ lawyer. Nathan Leopold, a brilliant scholar and a misfit, earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Chicago at the age of seventeen and was preparing to study law at Harvard University when he committed the crime. He considered himself a superman, superior to others, and therefore wasn’t restricted by rules or laws. Called “Baby” by family and close friends, he shot and stuffed songbirds throughout the city as a hobby. Nathan, a gay man living at a time when homosexuality was illegal, was in love with Richard. Richard, also a good student, was a handsome lady’s man who also graduated early, from the University of Michigan. As a pastime he “shadowed” random people around town, delighting in his secret world. He considered himself a master criminal and convinced Nathan to commit a murder with him in exchange for sexual favors. Richard craved attention. Their complex and supposedly air-tight murder plan involved ransom, although neither young man needed the money. But first, they had to find a victim. Bobby, from a wealthy family, a neighbor of the Leopolds and second cousin to Loeb, was walking home from school. The teens abducted him in their car, killed him, then sent a ransom note to the Franks family. The murderers who were apprehended early on, felt no anxiety and no remorse. Richard, who wanted credit and attention for his plan, ultimately confessed. The sentence would almost certainly be hanging. Lawyer Clarence Darrow who often defended pro bono cases was hired by the Leopold and Loeb families. Darrow had unlimited funds to call in psychiatrists at a time when practitioners were still called alienists. Psychiatry was a new science being developed by Freud Jung, and others. At the time of the trial, a criminal might be saved by a plea of insanity, but the two teenaged criminals were deemed sane. What the brilliant Darrow wanted was ground-breaking—to show that the boys were mentally deficient, although not insane. Nine pages of primary sources cite the psychiatry records of the boys’ examiners. Here we find out more about Nathan being raised by an adoring but abusive nanny, rather than by his family. Loeb was neglected by his uber-wealthy parents. Surely a jury would convict these entitled arrogant boys. Better to convince one judge than a group of twelve. So Darrow had the boys change their not-guilty plea to guilty to avoid a trial by jury. Gruesome as the story is, I found this meticulously researched and well-written cross over (to adult readers) to be a valuable insight into the history of law and a page turner. Check it out. Patricia Hruby Powell is the author of the award-winning books: Lift As You Climb; Josephine; Loving vs Virginia; and Struttin’ With Some Barbecue all signed and for sale at Jane Addams bookstore. Books forthcoming about women’s suffrage, Martha Graham, and Ella Fitzgerald. talesforallages.com

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC! I was nervous when I started this book because, as a parent, I get way more feels when it comes to murder, especially a murder of a child. I knew I was going to read about that and put in a request for the book because I found the overall premise really interesting. I also read the Rominov book by this author and really enjoyed it, so I wanted to give this one a try. Final verdict-I was hooked. I felt the kind of morbid fascination I felt when I read Radium Girls Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC! I was nervous when I started this book because, as a parent, I get way more feels when it comes to murder, especially a murder of a child. I knew I was going to read about that and put in a request for the book because I found the overall premise really interesting. I also read the Rominov book by this author and really enjoyed it, so I wanted to give this one a try. Final verdict-I was hooked. I felt the kind of morbid fascination I felt when I read Radium Girls. It is like an accident where you cannot look away. These boys were so disturbed, and their reactions and planning were just something I found it hard to wrap my mind around happening in real life. Anyone into True Crime type things like podcasts and shows will eat this one up. I am not into those things, and I still could not put it down. I love a nonfiction book that leads me to Google search things because I become so interested, and that is what happened. I felt like the author did a nice job of covering details but not making it as gruesome as it could have been. Honestly, I found more disturbing descriptions when I googled their names than I found in there, and that was good for me as a reader. I could see teens grabbing this title and reading it if they are into crime pieces. It is written in a simple style that gives it good readability, but it does not take away from the content. Overall, I highly recommend this one!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Librariann

    ** I received an advanced reader copy from the publisher, because I am a librarian and librarians are awesome** You know a nonfiction book is thorough when 25% of it is composed of source notes. Fleming, as always, delivers a compulsively readable, well researched, and to the point work if ya nonfiction that is as enjoyable for adult readers as it is accessible to teens. I've been interested in Leopold and Loeb since I watched that garbage Murder by Numbers movie during my early 2000s Ryan Goslin ** I received an advanced reader copy from the publisher, because I am a librarian and librarians are awesome** You know a nonfiction book is thorough when 25% of it is composed of source notes. Fleming, as always, delivers a compulsively readable, well researched, and to the point work if ya nonfiction that is as enjoyable for adult readers as it is accessible to teens. I've been interested in Leopold and Loeb since I watched that garbage Murder by Numbers movie during my early 2000s Ryan Gosling phase, but I don't think I ever read a full book about their crime. What struck me, in the end, was how amateurish and teenage it truly was, relying as much on the incompetence of the Chicago police department and limited forensics as it attempted to be "the perfect crime." (Does the perfect crime, even 100 years ago, REALLY involve returning a rented car that hasn't entirely been scrubbed of blood?) Fleming does an amazing job of creating context for readers raised on CSI and 21st century morality, whether regarding homosexuality, mental health, Chicago police and politics, or anti Semitism. The parallels to the Columbine pairing kept coming back to me. It just takes one psychopath and one disordered soul to commit a horrific crime. I would definitely recommend Dave Cullen's fantastic book on Columbine to anyone who enjoyed this title.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Read Ribbet

    One of my favorite nonfiction writers for young adults Candace Fleming is back with her latest book Murder Among Friends: How Leopold and Loeb Tried to Commit the Perfect Crime. The book is a fascinating read providing background on the relationship of these two privileged young men and their plans to commit the perfect crime. The story describes how the two young men were caught, the results of their trial which featured lawyer Clarence Darrow and the aftermath from the trial. Fleming provides One of my favorite nonfiction writers for young adults Candace Fleming is back with her latest book Murder Among Friends: How Leopold and Loeb Tried to Commit the Perfect Crime. The book is a fascinating read providing background on the relationship of these two privileged young men and their plans to commit the perfect crime. The story describes how the two young men were caught, the results of their trial which featured lawyer Clarence Darrow and the aftermath from the trial. Fleming provides many lesser known details based on her careful use of firsthand accounts and archival information. It is very engaging read especially for the true crime fans but should probably be placed in the hands of mature readers.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    I knew nothing about this incredibly troubling and heartbreaking story before I cracked the cover. Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb are rich, academically successful 19-year-old young men from Chicago who decide to murder a 14-year-old boy for the fun of it. Knowing nothing about this in advance led to the page turning experience for me. I found the book hard to put down and finished it in one day, which says a lot as I am not a fast reader. Candace Fleming’s work here is amazing and detailed so I knew nothing about this incredibly troubling and heartbreaking story before I cracked the cover. Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb are rich, academically successful 19-year-old young men from Chicago who decide to murder a 14-year-old boy for the fun of it. Knowing nothing about this in advance led to the page turning experience for me. I found the book hard to put down and finished it in one day, which says a lot as I am not a fast reader. Candace Fleming’s work here is amazing and detailed so thoroughly that you feel like you are in the courtroom as an observer in 1924. Because of the graphic content of the story, I am surprised that she wrote it for teens. There is much that I wouldn’t feel is appropriate, especially for a young teen.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Yannick Henkel

    In 1924, the two boys Nathan and Richard begin a crime. They murder a child they both know. The problem with keeping it a secret murder was that Nathan's glasses fell from his pocket. This is hint enough to receive a death sentence, but the attorney Clarence Darrow skillfully allowed the two boys avoid death penalty. The title of the book sounds thought provoking. I was captured by what I read and found it understandable why teenagers would kill a child. Besides that wrong moral standpoint, I fou In 1924, the two boys Nathan and Richard begin a crime. They murder a child they both know. The problem with keeping it a secret murder was that Nathan's glasses fell from his pocket. This is hint enough to receive a death sentence, but the attorney Clarence Darrow skillfully allowed the two boys avoid death penalty. The title of the book sounds thought provoking. I was captured by what I read and found it understandable why teenagers would kill a child. Besides that wrong moral standpoint, I found it interesting how the attorney was able to defend the teens. It was easy to read. Though the title sounds wrong, I would recommend this book.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Zoe Elizabeth (Booksatlunch)

    This was such an engrossing read! I could not put it down. Leopold and Loeb occupied such an interesting cross-section of identities, and I think that's part of what makes the story so interesting. Additionally, it highlights issues that are still seen in our criminal justice system and that we're still reckoning with today - nearly 100 years later. As someone who consumes a decent amount of true crime content, you can tell this is toned down for a younger audience, but not so much that it becom This was such an engrossing read! I could not put it down. Leopold and Loeb occupied such an interesting cross-section of identities, and I think that's part of what makes the story so interesting. Additionally, it highlights issues that are still seen in our criminal justice system and that we're still reckoning with today - nearly 100 years later. As someone who consumes a decent amount of true crime content, you can tell this is toned down for a younger audience, but not so much that it becomes unappealing. Highly recommend for people looking for a less detailed true crime read.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sharon Rose

    Fascinating and twisted. I had never heard of this crime before, but the exploration of both the killers' childhoods, friendship, criminal activities and eventual murder trial was hard to look away from. Candace Fleming does narrative history sooooo well, it reads just like a novel--I can see teen and adult lovers of true crime alike finding this well written and nuanced historical account engaging and thrilling. Thanks to Netgalley for the eArc! Fascinating and twisted. I had never heard of this crime before, but the exploration of both the killers' childhoods, friendship, criminal activities and eventual murder trial was hard to look away from. Candace Fleming does narrative history sooooo well, it reads just like a novel--I can see teen and adult lovers of true crime alike finding this well written and nuanced historical account engaging and thrilling. Thanks to Netgalley for the eArc!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kassy Nicholson

    I thought this was a good true crime book for teens. It didn't dwell too much on the gory details, but it also didn't shy away from some of the thornier issues. It was compelling and easy to read. Teens who are interested in true crime and psychology will find it fascinating. Probably not a lot of appeal outside those interests, however. I thought it could have done with more visual materials, but there may not be a lot available. I thought this was a good true crime book for teens. It didn't dwell too much on the gory details, but it also didn't shy away from some of the thornier issues. It was compelling and easy to read. Teens who are interested in true crime and psychology will find it fascinating. Probably not a lot of appeal outside those interests, however. I thought it could have done with more visual materials, but there may not be a lot available.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Andrea Wooster

    Definitely could be used as a choice book for the right reader in a high school history course; probably not best for a whole class book. Essential Question: Why are we so drawn to murder stories? Is the American court system fair? What role does journalism play in the justice system? Like all Candace Fleming books it is fast-paced and well-researched. I learned a lot and many interesting ideas were brought up.

  29. 5 out of 5

    A.

    A fascinating look at one of the 20th century's most infamous murders and subsequent trial. There are terrific touchpoints here for sensationalistic journalism, early (faulty) psychology, legal history, and LGBTQ+ history. A natural fit for fans of true crime stories, and the audiobook production was strong. A fascinating look at one of the 20th century's most infamous murders and subsequent trial. There are terrific touchpoints here for sensationalistic journalism, early (faulty) psychology, legal history, and LGBTQ+ history. A natural fit for fans of true crime stories, and the audiobook production was strong.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ms. Yingling

    Public library copy Quite well done, as is all of Fleming's work, but a bit too young adult for my middle school crowd. Not that they don't like books about murder, but this had a lot of detailed information that might be more appropriate for high school readers. What a sad story on so many levels. Public library copy Quite well done, as is all of Fleming's work, but a bit too young adult for my middle school crowd. Not that they don't like books about murder, but this had a lot of detailed information that might be more appropriate for high school readers. What a sad story on so many levels.

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