Three things. The victim: Kitty Gang, a single businesswoman who made dresses for the social elite. The mastermind: Harry Hayward, a charismatic roué from a good family who seemed to exert strange magnetic power over weaker minds. The publicists: the vigorous press of the day, which covered the crime and trial in exhausting detail, from the discovery of the body to the last gasps of the man at the end of the rope.

Shawn Francis Peters recounts the tale in "The Infamous Harry Hayward: A True Account of Murder and Mesmerism in Gilded Age Minneapolis," a rattling yarn, made vivid by conversations excerpted from court documents and confessions. The crime may seem remote to us in the 21st century, but the building where the victim, killer and murder-plot architect lived still stands on 13th and Hennepin, and the building where she worked was still on Nicollet Mall in the early 1990s. The murder took place near Lake Calhoun, which is still there (albeit renamed).

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