Submitted by Sheri Selway with help from the members of the Bay Area Book Club

In April, our book club read the true story, Empire of Deception by Dean Hobb. This fascinating book is the incredible story of a scheme to defraud people by having them purchase shares in non-existent mortgages and an equally fabled oil and timber venture in Panama. He printed off mortgage certificates and paid dividends. This scheme took place in Chicago in the early 1920’s. We wonder why people buy into such a scheme, but con man Leo Koretz seemed to use reverse psychology and people begged to buy into his mortgage scheme! Most of his “victims” we realized were wealthy and just wanted MORE MONEY! But that was the “roaring twenties” when crime ran rampant – prohibition, booze smuggling, gangsters…. He lived a luxurious life with a family and when he finally got caught, he disappeared! But remember, that was before internet, cell phones and other technology. Without giving away the ending, he ended up living a luxurious life in Nova Scotia before he was finally caught! Thus he was one of the first – before Ponzi, before Bernie Madoff.

Dean Jobb teaches investigative journalism and media law at the University of Kings College in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He has written The Acadians, the account of the when starting in 1755 people of French ancestry were expelled from their homes along Canada’s east coast. He also wrote Madness, Mayhem, and Murder true stores of crime and justice in the history of Nova Scotia. He wrote The Murderous Dr. Cream the true story of a Victoria age serial killer.

If you enjoy reading about crime and true stories, The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston is another great read. A true story about how the criminal justice system can spin out of control.

Between 1974 and 1985 several young couples were brutally killed and mutilated while having sex in parked cars in the hills around Florence, Italy.

American author Douglas Preston and Italian journalist Mario Spezi teamed up in 2000 to minutely and critically examine the long-unsolved murders. It was Spezi who covered the serial killings and who dubbed the unknown killer “The Monster of Florence”.

Public hysteria overwhelmed the police with tips, false leads, and conspiracy theories.  Over the years, various men were accused, imprisoned, and released.  In a twist of fate, Preston and Spezi themselves became targets of a bizarre police investigation.

The story is one of endless sexual perversions against a backdrop of a stunningly beautiful and historic city.  A gripping read.

Douglas Preston is a well-known author and journalist who sometimes writes with Lee Child. He writes thrillers and crime fiction and non-fiction.

Note: The Bookmobile stops at Bennetto Recreation Centre Thursdays from 4:30 – 5:00. Pick-up your holds or browse the shelves. eBooks, audiobooks and other resources are available on-line at including newspapers, magazines, movies and more.


Have you read any of our recommendations? Liked any of the same books we talked about or disagreed totally? Let us know at .