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“A great read and a fascinating retelling of a long-forgotten murder, that still resonates to this very day… for anybody interested in the history of the Silk City!” –Mark S. Auerbach, City Historian, Passaic, New Jersey At the dawn of the 20th century, the social unrest in Paterson, New Jersey was palpable. Thousands of Dutch and Italian immigrants flocked to the city, “A great read and a fascinating retelling of a long-forgotten murder, that still resonates to this very day… for anybody interested in the history of the Silk City!” –Mark S. Auerbach, City Historian, Passaic, New Jersey At the dawn of the 20th century, the social unrest in Paterson, New Jersey was palpable. Thousands of Dutch and Italian immigrants flocked to the city, hoping for a job in Paterson’s famous silk mills. The burgeoning population ushered women into the workplace, grew suffragist sympathies, and produced an anarchist movement.In this charged environment, Jennie Bosschieter, a 17-year-old Dutch immigrant and mill worker, was murdered. Sorrow turned to shock when four wealthy, influential citizens were accused of killing her. The resulting criminal trial held the city – and eventually the nation – transfixed.


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“A great read and a fascinating retelling of a long-forgotten murder, that still resonates to this very day… for anybody interested in the history of the Silk City!” –Mark S. Auerbach, City Historian, Passaic, New Jersey At the dawn of the 20th century, the social unrest in Paterson, New Jersey was palpable. Thousands of Dutch and Italian immigrants flocked to the city, “A great read and a fascinating retelling of a long-forgotten murder, that still resonates to this very day… for anybody interested in the history of the Silk City!” –Mark S. Auerbach, City Historian, Passaic, New Jersey At the dawn of the 20th century, the social unrest in Paterson, New Jersey was palpable. Thousands of Dutch and Italian immigrants flocked to the city, hoping for a job in Paterson’s famous silk mills. The burgeoning population ushered women into the workplace, grew suffragist sympathies, and produced an anarchist movement.In this charged environment, Jennie Bosschieter, a 17-year-old Dutch immigrant and mill worker, was murdered. Sorrow turned to shock when four wealthy, influential citizens were accused of killing her. The resulting criminal trial held the city – and eventually the nation – transfixed.

30 review for The Poisoned Glass

  1. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    I was drawn to this historical true-crime book because the crime victim was a young woman in the Dutch immigrant community of Paterson, New Jersey, at the turn of the 20th century. Many of my ancestors were members of that community who lived there at about that time. Both of my grandmothers and several of my great-aunts worked in the silk mills starting when they were young girls, just as the victim, Jennie Bosschieter, did. And I myself grew up near Paterson and lived in the Paterson area for I was drawn to this historical true-crime book because the crime victim was a young woman in the Dutch immigrant community of Paterson, New Jersey, at the turn of the 20th century. Many of my ancestors were members of that community who lived there at about that time. Both of my grandmothers and several of my great-aunts worked in the silk mills starting when they were young girls, just as the victim, Jennie Bosschieter, did. And I myself grew up near Paterson and lived in the Paterson area for most of my life. Despite those connections, however, I had not previously heard about this crime, which, according to this book, appears to have been a major news story not only in Paterson but throughout much of the United States. So the book piqued my interest. The author did a creditable job of researching the crime and the resulting trial, primarily from contemporaneous newspaper reports, to judge from the citations listed at the end. The crime against 17-year-old Jennie was brutal: she was drugged and raped and left for dead. (Details of the rape are implied rather than described. The rape was barely mentioned at trial.) The perpetrators were four men ranging in age from 25 to 42. At least two of them were members of the “upper crust” of Paterson society, who were arrogant about their status and seemingly callous about Jennie’s fate. After all, she was a poor working-class girl; her life wasn’t worth much to begin with. Some members of the community and the press shared this view, or they took the position that as a young woman out at night, she was responsible for what happened to her. The book held my interest and was a quick read. I thought the writing was competent overall, but like quite a few other books I’ve read recently, a good copyeditor would have been useful (most egregious: unless I missed something, the name of one witness changed halfway through). In some places, it was a bit on the dry side. I think the book could have been better with a few changes and additions. First, I don’t know that it was a good organizational decision to describe the crime at length right at the outset and then rehash it through the trial testimony. This decision required the author to pick one narrative from the beginning and stick with it, even though there was conflicting testimony. Second, I would have liked to read more about the different groups in the Paterson community, with more detail about their reactions to the crime. For example, I know that for most members of the Dutch immigrant community, their church was a primary focus of their lives. I would have liked to learn how the clergy and church elders viewed it. Did the “dominies” (pastors) view Jennie as an innocent victim, or did they use her murder as an object lesson to stay on the straight and narrow? So, in summary, this was a good book about a crime that was famous at the time but has been forgotten as the years have gone by. I think it could have been better, but it’s still a worthwhile read. I recommend it to readers interested in true crime and to those like me with a connection to Paterson.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Val

    The Poisoned Glass was such a heartwrenching book to read. It told the true story of the murder of a 17-year-old girl who worked in a silk mill in Paterson New Jersey in 1900. Most fascinating to me was how some things are still the same today: (view spoiler)[such as the use of knockout drops (AKA the first date rape drug), the reprehensible way rich men seem to think they are above the law, and the way victims still get blamed. One thing that was very different, however, was that the prisoners The Poisoned Glass was such a heartwrenching book to read. It told the true story of the murder of a 17-year-old girl who worked in a silk mill in Paterson New Jersey in 1900. Most fascinating to me was how some things are still the same today: (view spoiler)[such as the use of knockout drops (AKA the first date rape drug), the reprehensible way rich men seem to think they are above the law, and the way victims still get blamed. One thing that was very different, however, was that the prisoners had to walk a mile to the prison. As they walked past a bar, they asked their jailers if they could go inside for a drink ... and they were allowed to do so! (hide spoiler)] The author did an amazing job researching the events and this is not a book I will forget any time soon. Thanks to the author and the publisher for listing this giveaway on Goodreads.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Julia

    This was a very well-written historical true crime. I like reading accounts of historical crimes to do an infomal compare-contrast with how things would be similar or different in the present day, and also to get glimpses into the past. The writing was first rate, avoiding the problems sometimes found in true crime accounts, where the story is drawn out to an extreme degree or told in an awkward, incomprehensible manner. I was astounded at the foolish behavior of the men involved in attempting t This was a very well-written historical true crime. I like reading accounts of historical crimes to do an infomal compare-contrast with how things would be similar or different in the present day, and also to get glimpses into the past. The writing was first rate, avoiding the problems sometimes found in true crime accounts, where the story is drawn out to an extreme degree or told in an awkward, incomprehensible manner. I was astounded at the foolish behavior of the men involved in attempting to cover up the crime, and the account was enhanced with the pictures and contemporary newspaper headlines. I noticed a number of parallels in the the crime and aftermath with People Who Eat Darkness: The True Story of a Young Woman Who Vanished from the Streets of Tokyo--and the Evil That Swallowed Her Up, which I recently read.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Peg Price

    Finished it quickly. Compelling and written in a fast-paced manner. Deplorable crime and despicable, slipshod police work and courtroom work. Jennie deserved better.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    Well researched book. Lots of detail. Trial details dragged a bit.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Clifford Browder

    Four-star review of Kimberly Tilley’s The Poisoned Glass by Clifford Browder, author of the Metropolis series of historical novels. Kimberly Tilley’s The Poisoned Glass (Black Rose Writing, 2019) is a thoroughly researched, detailed account of the shocking rape and murder of Jennie Bosschieter, a young immigrant girl in the mill town of Paterson, New Jersey, in 1900. The book’s title is an allusion to the knockout drops that one of the accused put in the girl’s drink without her knowing it. Her m Four-star review of Kimberly Tilley’s The Poisoned Glass by Clifford Browder, author of the Metropolis series of historical novels. Kimberly Tilley’s The Poisoned Glass (Black Rose Writing, 2019) is a thoroughly researched, detailed account of the shocking rape and murder of Jennie Bosschieter, a young immigrant girl in the mill town of Paterson, New Jersey, in 1900. The book’s title is an allusion to the knockout drops that one of the accused put in the girl’s drink without her knowing it. Her murder aroused the interest of the whole country. Reporters flocked, and the arrest and trial of four young men implicated in the crime were followed closely by the press nationwide. Many issues were involved: the vulnerability of young women in the workforce, the privileged status of the accused, the death penalty they risked incurring, the press’s rush to judgment before the trial had even begun, and the attempt by some to blame the victim. Kimberly Tilley tells this story with unsparing detail, first recounting the events of the tragic night of the murder. Then she gives us, again in unsparing detail, the arrests and trial that followed, with quotes from the press of the time, and photographs from contemporary sources. To keep the four defendants straight, this reviewer had to take notes about each of them, lest he confuse one with another, and he almost had to do the same with the numerous prosecuting and defense attorneys during the court proceedings that followed. Those proceedings are told in great, almost excessive, detail, even as suspense mounts in anticipation of the verdict. I wish the author had streamlined her account a bit; we have already heard the story of the fatal night, and then hear several versions of it again in court. Perhaps the reader should have been allowed to learn about the crime and the arrests as the public did, piecemeal, rather than having a complete account of the night’s events at the outset, followed by more accounts at the trial. These quibbles aside, Kimberly Tilley has done a masterful job of retelling a once famous but now forgotten crime story that has resonance today, when we have renewed concerns about immigrants, the vulnerability of women, privilege, the death penalty, and the role of media in presenting the news without bias. Her account of Jennie Bosschieter’s tragic death and its aftermath reads like a novel, and one that you won’t easily put down. I received an advance review copy from the author, but this has not influenced my review.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Stacy

    Very well written, best I've ever read in the genre!!! I rarely read true crime because of the way it's usually written, jumping back and forth, with no logical timeline. Kimberly Tilley has crafted a true crime story that flows like a historical novel. I'd never heard of Jennie or the horrible 4 men who raped and killed her. I had no clue that date rape drugs were used outside of modern times. Sadly, the treatment of sexual assault on women hasn't truly advanced much, even after 120+ years!!! I Very well written, best I've ever read in the genre!!! I rarely read true crime because of the way it's usually written, jumping back and forth, with no logical timeline. Kimberly Tilley has crafted a true crime story that flows like a historical novel. I'd never heard of Jennie or the horrible 4 men who raped and killed her. I had no clue that date rape drugs were used outside of modern times. Sadly, the treatment of sexual assault on women hasn't truly advanced much, even after 120+ years!!! I truly appreciated this author's explanations of the culture during that time period. I even learned about something I'd wondered about before, the origin of the name funeral parlors! I was shocked at where and how embalming and autopsies were done back then!!!! Well done Kimberly Tilley!!! Look forward to reading future novels from you!!!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Stacy

    Modern forensics would have done so much for this case—DNA, fingerprints, proper autopsy techniques—all would have been beneficial. While the crime itself was a huge scandal, it seems to have been forgotten. There’s another book here, begging to be written: more on the social issues (although the author does touch on those), and more on the terrible police work. I’m a lawyer, and I was yelling at the courtroom scenes. The prosecutors were lucky the guilt of the perpetrators was so obvious—it was Modern forensics would have done so much for this case—DNA, fingerprints, proper autopsy techniques—all would have been beneficial. While the crime itself was a huge scandal, it seems to have been forgotten. There’s another book here, begging to be written: more on the social issues (although the author does touch on those), and more on the terrible police work. I’m a lawyer, and I was yelling at the courtroom scenes. The prosecutors were lucky the guilt of the perpetrators was so obvious—it was a weak case for premeditation.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Linda Goss

    Based on a true story The life and death of Jenny is told in a concise and factual manner. I appreciated the historical pictures throughout the book. My interest was held throughout the court trials and the whole book! Highly recommended.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Gojan

    This well-researched and historically true account of the rape and murder of a New Jersey teenage girl in 1900 is as well-paced and character-driven as any modern, fictional crime saga. Set against the social conventions and courtroom norms of the times, it also gives insight into pre-technology police work and what me might consider today as some rather shoddy evidence gathering techniques. Some things never change, however: human nature, the bad and the good, remains the same and is on display This well-researched and historically true account of the rape and murder of a New Jersey teenage girl in 1900 is as well-paced and character-driven as any modern, fictional crime saga. Set against the social conventions and courtroom norms of the times, it also gives insight into pre-technology police work and what me might consider today as some rather shoddy evidence gathering techniques. Some things never change, however: human nature, the bad and the good, remains the same and is on display in this book. The goofball, sensational newspaper coverage of 1900 is just an earlier and less refined version of today’s whacky media universe. Whether justice, by our contemporary standards, finally prevails in this tale is something the author allows the reader to judge. In the end, I give the writer credit for rescuing this episode of history from obscurity and doing it in a factual, methodical way that both informs and entertains.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Zuelzke

    A favorite If you like historical things and true crime books, you will like this book. It is well written, easy to follow and well researched. You can form your own opinion as to the guilt or innocence of the defendants.

  12. 5 out of 5

    John Pritchett

    Historical. Book This is a historical tail of a murder of no consequence and it's retelling makes me wonder why, there is no social redeeming moral lesson or any other lesson to be learned aside from the precise and very competent depiction of life at the turn.of the previous century. Historical. Book This is a historical tail of a murder of no consequence and it's retelling makes me wonder why, there is no social redeeming moral lesson or any other lesson to be learned aside from the precise and very competent depiction of life at the turn.of the previous century.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sonia Santos

    Sad and shocking This book entails the story of a girl who was poisoned and raped. I'm shocked by how little time the men involved served time. Sad and shocking This book entails the story of a girl who was poisoned and raped. I'm shocked by how little time the men involved served time.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Pimi

    100 years apart, yet we stand in the same spot. Although the book itself is short and concise, the connection with a victim so far ago is what makes this stand out; we ought to remember her because we are still fighting for the Jennie Bosschieters of today. Book: 3.5 Research: 5 Relevance: 5+

  15. 5 out of 5

    Dan A. Foster

    Poisoned Glass Interesting narrative about the death of a young woman and the trial of the accused. Relevant in today’s times in which so many fail to treat others with due respect. Writing is good, but the story drags in some places.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn Wilkes!?

    History is just as cruel today I was caught into this book from the beginning. I like history and books that are not only true but written in an interesting style. This book conveyed the horror of the convicted rather than the victim. Good read in history.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Helen Agathocleous

    Well written This was an interesting read and written very well. It is obvious a lot of research was done for the this book and I am glad it read likes a novel and not a history text book.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    True crime is not really my thing but this was fairly interesting.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Laurel Kristick

    Interesting true crime book of the sensational death of Jennie Bosschieter in 1900 at the hands of 4 men.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Judith

    Jennie Bosschieter was a 17 year old immigrant girl whose body was found in the early morning hours of October 19, 1900 in Paterson New Jersey. Jennie was not unlike many women her age. She worked at a local silk mill and in her off hours she visited friends she had in town. Her subsequent rape and murder by a group of men made national headlines. Her body was dumped like so much trash in a field. The leader of the group. Walter McAlister, was the son of a wealthy mill owner. His friend and comp Jennie Bosschieter was a 17 year old immigrant girl whose body was found in the early morning hours of October 19, 1900 in Paterson New Jersey. Jennie was not unlike many women her age. She worked at a local silk mill and in her off hours she visited friends she had in town. Her subsequent rape and murder by a group of men made national headlines. Her body was dumped like so much trash in a field. The leader of the group. Walter McAlister, was the son of a wealthy mill owner. His friend and companion, George Webb was one of the best known and well liked men in town. The trial revealed that some things have never changed. The defendants blamed Jennie for her own murder. The blackened her character in an effort to excuse their own behavior. It's sad to reflect Jennie's life could have been saved if she had been taken to a doctor. The conclusion of the trial seem less than just. The jurors and the media appeared to have more sympathy for the men than they did for the murdered girl. One hundred and twenty years later, the story of Jennie Bosschieter's live and death is acted out in cities and towns all over the world. Let her name be remembered.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Mandi Lucci

    Good I won The Poisoned Glass in a Goodreads giveaway. It took me a while to read as I usually read it when I had a few moments here and there. I will say that it did keep my interest from the beginning. Even though I knew what happened from the very beginning. I enjoyed this book immensely!!!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Hari Brandl

    I received this as a result of a GoodReads giveaway, (I love the giveaway aspect of this reading website!) a while ago. I am obsessed with True Crime, and this is a good example of the genre. While I like the book, and find it presented the story thoroughly and fairly, with lots of information with sources well organized, comprehensive. It was an unfortunate case, probably a spontaneous response to impulsive emotion, (maybe some lust) proximity of a drug and a lot of alcohol. Bad decisions were m I received this as a result of a GoodReads giveaway, (I love the giveaway aspect of this reading website!) a while ago. I am obsessed with True Crime, and this is a good example of the genre. While I like the book, and find it presented the story thoroughly and fairly, with lots of information with sources well organized, comprehensive. It was an unfortunate case, probably a spontaneous response to impulsive emotion, (maybe some lust) proximity of a drug and a lot of alcohol. Bad decisions were made and tragedy ensued. I feel the writing, however, is uninspired and spiritless. While the use of multiple quotes from all participants, repetition of testimony at trial, etc., where the defendants changed their story in small, somewhat confusing ways (they were, after all, drinking when the crime occurred. And then there is the fact that the case was tried in the media of the time as well as in court that tends to cloud the truth further. The telling could have benefitted from thoughtful weeding out of the relating of events over and over. Still, a worthwhile read, and the author shows promise..

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sheila Lowe

    Very interesting case from the turn of the Century.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Helen

    An interesting account of a turn of the (last) century murder trial in which a young woman was raped and murdered by four men of a higher class. Well researched and documented, the only thing I would have recommended adding is social and historical context as far as how rape was handled during this time and how astounding it is that there even was a trial for this tragedy.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Arlene Baker

    Compelling! Today's crime scene investigation and current science were not existant at the turn of the 20th century. Must of the investigation and events as they unfold are shocking in thier laxity but what does not change is class ,,,and the indifference of well off to the consequences they wreak upon those with no power. And of course, the constant effort to impune the integrity of the victim. Suspense of the trial and the sentencing...a page turner! Compelling! Today's crime scene investigation and current science were not existant at the turn of the 20th century. Must of the investigation and events as they unfold are shocking in thier laxity but what does not change is class ,,,and the indifference of well off to the consequences they wreak upon those with no power. And of course, the constant effort to impune the integrity of the victim. Suspense of the trial and the sentencing...a page turner!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ashlee Wilkins

    Set in the early 20th Century, The Poisoned Glass by Kimberly Tilley recounts the murder of a young immigrant woman (Jennie) in Patterson, New Jersey. Tilley places you at the center of a murder trial tempered by class, gender, and privilege. Although this may seem to be a story torn out of a history book, there are many similarities to modern society. The author evoked a plethora of emotions as she illustrated the chaos that engulfed the trial of the accused murderers. This underscored the comp Set in the early 20th Century, The Poisoned Glass by Kimberly Tilley recounts the murder of a young immigrant woman (Jennie) in Patterson, New Jersey. Tilley places you at the center of a murder trial tempered by class, gender, and privilege. Although this may seem to be a story torn out of a history book, there are many similarities to modern society. The author evoked a plethora of emotions as she illustrated the chaos that engulfed the trial of the accused murderers. This underscored the complexity of human psychology. I found myself front and center of the events that unfolded. Tilley’s style of providing snippets of what actually transpired mixed with the accused murderers’ individual recounts of the events, invited me to become a detective investigating a murder mystery. I became so invested in this truth-seeking mission, that it was difficult to put the book down. As the book concluded, I felt conflicted because I did not want the story to end but also was looking forward to future works that will be written by Tilley. Overall, The Poisoned Glass by Kimberly Tilley was an exciting, intriguing, nail-biting experience.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kristin A. Sherry

    I received an advanced pre-ordered copy of this book by ordering it from the publisher's website. I follow the author's blog, OldSpirituals.com and am a big fan of her writing. I was not disappointed by this book. There are so many layers that make this book fascinating. First, it was incredible to see the number of original images and photos of news coverage included in this book, given the murder took place in 1900. Second, it was so interesting to have a window into the social customs of the I received an advanced pre-ordered copy of this book by ordering it from the publisher's website. I follow the author's blog, OldSpirituals.com and am a big fan of her writing. I was not disappointed by this book. There are so many layers that make this book fascinating. First, it was incredible to see the number of original images and photos of news coverage included in this book, given the murder took place in 1900. Second, it was so interesting to have a window into the social customs of the day. It's a true study on how society has changed and in many ways how some things (shockingly) have not changed. The story is tragic but is also tastefully written. I was amazed at the tact of the author given a rape and murder is involved. Normally I wouldn't enjoy reading such topics, but the author was very deliberative in her approach, which I appreciated. I felt like I learned so much from this book, within the backdrop of a truly intriguing story. I will be reading it again and highly recommend it for people who enjoy true crime, history, sociology and human behavior.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lee Gordon

    Excellent read Ms. Tilley did an absolutely amazing job with this true crime saga. Meticulous research, skilled character portrayals, substantiated sources, gifted story-telling, and perfect writing brought this story to life. Ms. Tilley's first book; I look forward to reading more. Excellent read Ms. Tilley did an absolutely amazing job with this true crime saga. Meticulous research, skilled character portrayals, substantiated sources, gifted story-telling, and perfect writing brought this story to life. Ms. Tilley's first book; I look forward to reading more.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sakura Nobeyama

    The Poisoned Glass is the tragic story of the rape and murder of 17-year-old Jennie Bosschieter in 1900 and the trial that followed. Tilley's research and detail are meticulous, and she skillfully captures the pathos of the young girl's poignant death. In this era of the #MeToo movement, this book takes a look back at the terrible treatment of women - not just by wolves and molesters, but also by the legal system and its hordes of unscrupulous lawyers at the ensuing trial. The book begins with the The Poisoned Glass is the tragic story of the rape and murder of 17-year-old Jennie Bosschieter in 1900 and the trial that followed. Tilley's research and detail are meticulous, and she skillfully captures the pathos of the young girl's poignant death. In this era of the #MeToo movement, this book takes a look back at the terrible treatment of women - not just by wolves and molesters, but also by the legal system and its hordes of unscrupulous lawyers at the ensuing trial. The book begins with the discovery of the body and the initial investigation. Reluctant witnesses finally come forward, and police arrest four "gentlemen" believed to be involved with her murder. The author then details the riveting story of the trial, verdict, and aftermath. This is an excellent debut, and I look forward to her next novel.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Leslie Waite

    The Poisoned Glass is a great read! If you enjoy books about true crime, especially historical ones that offer insight, and not simply fact recitation, you will enjoy The Poisoned Glass. Frequently, true crime novels get bogged down in dull details that show the author did lots of research, but didn't filter it well. Not so with The Poisoned Glass. Kimberly Tilley does a great job at laying out the details of the murder of Jennie Bosschieter, a young woman who worked at the Paterson Ribbon Compa The Poisoned Glass is a great read! If you enjoy books about true crime, especially historical ones that offer insight, and not simply fact recitation, you will enjoy The Poisoned Glass. Frequently, true crime novels get bogged down in dull details that show the author did lots of research, but didn't filter it well. Not so with The Poisoned Glass. Kimberly Tilley does a great job at laying out the details of the murder of Jennie Bosschieter, a young woman who worked at the Paterson Ribbon Company. Although Jennie's life was cut short in a brutal way, Tilley brings her to life and shares her humanity. She also exposes the impact of class and women's roles in the society of early 20th century America. A fantastic first effort that deserves attention- I can't wait for Tilley's next book!

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