by Carol McCabe Booker
The story of a southern Maryland murder mystery peels back the harsh life of Chesapeake Bay watermen at the dawn of the 20th century, among them Littleton Condiff, shot dead in his bed. Carol McCabe Booker, author of the well-received Cove Point on the Chesapeake and other works, is back with a tantalizing whodunit that transfixed Maryland.
“In the history of Solomon’s Island, there is no record of such a crime as this,” the Baltimore Sun wrote in 1900.
Booker, a national journalist and lawyer by trade, unearths documents and finds newspaper coverage to supplement the spotty official record of the murder and Baltimore trial. She dedicates her book to the reporters who turned out the unbylined stories people clamored for — a bittersweet reminder of the historical function of newspapers struggling these days to exist.
National journalist Eleanor Clift says of Waterman’s Widow: “The historical detail is breathtaking,”
You’ll leave this book with a new understanding of how our justice system ran and strong opinions about Bessie Condiff, the wife who slept by his side. When you’re done, you may sit back in your chair wondering who did kill ‘Lit” Condiff.
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