There are many levels of wickedness, from finger-wagging frisky to outright evil, and Jane Ann Turzillo hits them all in “Wicked Cleveland.”
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In Part One, “Sex, Vice and Rock-and-Roll,” Turzillo reaches back to the bad old days of downtown burlesque, mob hangouts like the notorious Theatrical Grill and raids on gambling clubs, with Eliot Ness leading the troops. She then jumps forward a few decades for the ultimately tragic tale of punk rock singer Wendy O. Williams, who faced an obscenity charge after an appearance at the Agora.
Part Two, “Cops, Corpses and Crooks” includes the story of Cleveland resident Leon Czolgosz’s assassination of President William McKinley, but also the grim 1923 murder of a Cleveland patrolman by a man who was being arrested for receiving stolen property. In 1975, a habitual bank robber walked into Society National Bank with a phony bomb and took hostages, his chances of success diminishing as his chest pains intensified: It seemed he had left his heart medication in the car.
“Blazes, Bombs and Beer” is a catch-all chapter that traces the “burning river” to its first recorded fire in 1868 and through its worst pollution; the Cleveland Indians’ catastrophic 1974 Ten-Cent Beer Night promotion and, Turzillo’s ultimate story, the location of a bank robber who disappeared in 1969. After 50 years, Turzillo helped discover what had happened to him.
Some of the stories will be unfamiliar, but Turzillo’s research provides insight into even the better-known tales of wickedness.
“Wicked Cleveland” (128 pages, softcover) costs $ 21.99 from the History Press. Two of Turzillo’s books, “Wicked Women of Ohio” and “Unsolved Murders & Disappearances in Northeast Ohio,” have been nominated for Agatha Awards in the Best Nonfiction category.
Turzillo will sign “Wicked Cleveland” at 7 pm Wednesday at Lakewood Public Library, 15425 Detroit Ave.
‘Cycling Through Columbine’
Children cowered in a classroom, hiding from teenage gunmen with semiautomatic weapons they had acquired legally. One of the deadliest school shootings in the United States occurred in April 1999 in Columbine, Colorado.
Akron native Robert Case, a child protection attorney, was working in the county courthouse about 15 miles away, and his reflections on the Columbine tragedy form “Cycling Through Columbine.”
The book is framed by a bicycle trip that Case took with four other men in 2017, beginning on the Oregon coast with the objective of riding across the country. They are strangers to one another; they have connected through an organization called Adventure Cycling, which also provides routes. As Case rides, he hopes for texts from his daughter, now a Navy veteran, and learns about the Buffalo Soldiers of the 25th Infantry Regiment Bicycle Corps, who rode through Montana in 1896.
Case’s two children were in high school but did not attend Columbine. He did have a connection with one of the victims, a 16-year-old boy who had been placed in a program for special needs students. Case attended the funeral and placed flowers at a memorial. Almost 20 years later, the boy’s memory remains with him.
The men feel welcome in Oregon, with an invitation to a backyard picnic and bonfire; less so in Washington, where a sheriff’s deputy gives them a hostile reception.
A week after the Columbine shootings, the National Rifle Association was scheduled to hold its annual convention in Denver, about 15 miles away. There were massive protests.
“Cycling Through Columbine” (264 pages, softcover) costs $ 18 from Bottom Dog Press.
Loganberry Books (13015 Larchmere Blvd., Shaker Heights): Brooke Bobincheck signs her futuristic fantasy “Blood Claws Rising: Tales of the Sanguine Empire,” 1 pm Sunday; Lady Poet signs her memoir “In His Eyes: Finding My Way Back to God,” 3 pm Sunday.
Cuyahoga County Public Library (Gates Mills branch, 1491 Chagrin River Road): Bette Lou Higgins signs “Lost Restaurants of Cleveland,” 2 to 3 pm Wednesday. Register at cuyahogalibrary.org.
Morley Library: Kristen O’Neal talks about her teen novel “Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses” in a Zoom event at 4 pm Wednesday. Register at morleylibrary.org.
Cuyahoga County Public Library (North Royalton branch, 5071 Wallings Road): John Grabowski talks about “A History of Immigration and Migration to Greater Cleveland,” 7 to 8 pm Thursday. Register at cuyahogalibrary.org.
Cuyahoga County Public Library (North Olmsted branch, 27403 Lorain Road): Angie Hockman, whose “The Hustler” won a Golden Heart Award in the suspense category from the Romance Writers of America, talks about her romance novel “Dream On,” 7 to 8 pm Thursday. Register at cuyahogalibrary.org.
Stow-Munroe Falls Public Library: Alka Joshi, author of “The Henna Artist” and its sequel “The Secret Keeper of Jaipur,” talks about her work and answers questions in a virtual event from 9 to 10 pm Thursday. Register at smfpl.org.
Learned Owl Book Shop (204 N. Main St., Hudson): TW Poremba signs “Sfumato: A Story of Love, Loss and Hope,” 1 to 3 pm Saturday.
Chagrin Falls Township Hall (83 N. Main St.): Angie Hockman talks about “Dream On,” 1 to 3 pm Saturday. Register by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reeves Victorian House and Carriage House Museum (325 E. Iron Ave., Dover): Linda Castillo launches “The Hidden One,” 14th in her Kate Burkholder series about a police chief in a small Holmes County town, 6:30 to 7:30 pm Saturday. Bring a lawn chair; register at doverlibrary.org.
Visible Voice Books (2258 Professor Ave., Cleveland): Kent State University alumna Megan Neville launches her poetry collection “The Fallow” in a conversation with “Rust Belt Femme” memoirist Raechel Anne Jolie at 7 pm Saturday.
Email information about books of local interest, and event notices at least two weeks in advance to BeaconBookTalk@gmail.com and email@example.com. Barbara McIntyre tweets at @BarbaraMcI.
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