The mystery surrounding the Cleveland Torso Murders of the 1930s dogged Eliot Ness for the rest of his career. As he said in the story, finding the Butcher wasn’t like taking out Al Capone. Ness never talked to the papers or pointed the finger of blame, but I think Eliot Ness knew who the Butcher of Kingsbury Run was, and he did his best to bring the carnage to an end. Many believe those years in Cleveland cost him his health, his first marriage, and his career. I wish him peace.
By all accounts, Michael Malone was a quiet, dedicated, crime fighter who never received or wanted the credit. I learned about him in a documentary on Al Capone and the mob and started digging into his story. As always happens, once you start pulling on threads, one leads to another and another. He became my leading man, mostly because I wanted to give his story an ending I felt he deserved. His love and life with Dani Flanagan is all fiction, but the real Michael Malone earned it, and part of me wonders if Dani and Malone might need to go on a few more adventures together, solve a few more mysteries, and pull a few more secrets from the cloth. I think they make a very good team.
With every book I write, I delve into the people and circumstances that create a setting. Every place has its story, but America, maybe more than any other country, has a patchwork quilt of the world layered over every city and town. It is one of the most fascinating things about writing; you uncover the identity of not only your characters but of every place you write about. Cleveland’s founding was dominated by Eastern European immigrants, mainly Hungarians, Czechs, and Poles, who brought their own flavor and color to the area. The Kos family are fictional, but their Czech heritage is not. The Broadway, East 55th part of town has tried to preserve that history and some of the original Bohemian buildings, but sadly, much of it is gone. That’s why historical fiction is so important. It brings these places, and these people, back to life.
The hardest thing for Dani in The Unknown Beloved was the fact that so many of the Butcher’s victims were never named. They died alone and unknown. The plight of the unknown was the theme of this book. Unknown people, unknown pain, unknown acts of heroism, and unknown acts of horror. Some of the Butcher’s victims were named, most were not, but I tried to make them as real as I could, if only to shine light on the sadness of their stories and the actuality of their lives.
So many of the things in this book are true that detailing them would demand a dozen lists and pages of explanation, but this story has something for everyone. Romance, friendship, courage, and crime, The Unknown Beloved is sure to send you down the rabbit hole by the time you are finished reading. Enjoy!