Leopold & Loeb: The Murder of Bobby Franks
Killer Queens is a new series of historical fiction books based on true stories. Sources, such as police reports and newspaper articles, are examined to gather as many facts as possible surrounding each case. As with any work of fiction, some creative additions are made when telling these stories, usually within the conversations between the personalities involved. The various sources are the basis of these conversations and hopefully make them come alive for the readers to help understand what was meant by those words.
Book 1 of the series focuses on what has been called "The Crime of the Century" in 1920s United States. At the center of this murder case were Nathan Leopold Jr. and Richard Loeb – two wealthy University of Chicago students who, in May of 1924, kidnapped and murdered 14-year-old Bobby Franks.
With Leopold and Loeb, both males, the dominance shifted from one to the other. Regardless of who held it, the result was the same. They were both very interested in crime and pushing the envelope for the next thrill. The vicious "thrill kill" of Bobby Franks was the bloody result of an intense and unhealthy co-dependent bond between the murdering duo.
As you read the exploration of the case in this book, ask yourself: Would these young men be as vulnerable to their manipulations today? If they couldn't have harnessed and used shame as a control tactic, would they have been as successful at recruiting a criminal counterpart? Finally, to what degree can we hold the prevalent homophobia of this era accountable as a force to bear on this tragedy?