The Witch of Delray: Rose Veres & Detroit's Infamous 1930s Murder Mystery by Karen Dybis
Publication date: October 30, 2017
Pages: 128 pages
Genre: Nonfiction/True Crime
Rating: 4/5 stars ✰✰✰✰
Strengths: Detail and explanations of cultural differences for the time period
Weaknesses: Too much detail about less-interesting (to me) characters
I waited several months for this one to be available through my local library for my kindle. There is so much more to this story than meets the eye!
Rose Veres, a Hungarian immigrant in the Delray neighborhood of Detroit, ran a boarding house to help support herself and her children after her husband died. The author does a great job explaining how much this entails, and differentiates this role in 1930 vs what we would think the job of landlady would mean today. The way the community functioned and the role of those in it was important to the story, and the author made this clear.
Rose and her son Bill are accused of murdering one of their tenants when the man falls off a ladder while doing home repairs. It turns out that most of the neighbors actually know very little about the Veres family, but that lack of knowledge helps the rumors and speculation take on a life of its own.
The author's extensive research was quite clear when she spelled out all the political ambitions and personalities that suddenly made the case a cause, and larger than life. The system seems to have completely forgotten about the real people paying the price for their 'war on crime.'
I know the whole point of non-fiction is facts, but I'll admit I started to glaze over a bit when reading about the time after the conviction of Rose and Bill, and what happened next to all those in power. I wish I had a better memory for all those names and dates, as I'm sure it would come in handy when watching Jeopardy some time. The attorney who worked on their appeals - Alean B. Clutts - made a much bigger impression on me than the politicians.
Overall, I'd give this book 3.5 - 4 out of 5 stars. I almost wish I had a different rating for non-fiction, as its purpose is different than most of the fiction I read. I did love the thorough research by Karen Dybis (the author) and I'll consider checking into a couple of her other local Detroit books.