No Tears to the Gallows
The Strange Case of Frank McCulloughBook - 2000
The city had never seen anything like it. The story began in 1918, just after the Great War had ended, when young Frank McCullough was sentenced to be hanged for the murder of a police officer. He claimed the killing was an accident, but it seemed his case was hopeless; he was a drifter, probably a liar, and most definitely a thief. Yet McCullough was also handsome, charming, and intelligent, and the society around him was entering a time of unprecedented change. The war had turned the old order upside down, and nothing would ever be the same again. The city of Toronto was full of the sights and sounds of recent immigrants; veterans were flooding back having witnessed the horrors in Europe; and authority, especially that of the police, was deeply distrusted. Convicted murderer Frank McCullough became a popular hero, and his case a flashpoint for all the tensions in the city. Thousands of upstanding citizens - middle- and working-class men and women, children and churchgoers - petitioned Ottawa on his behalf. They followed Frank's story in the newspapers like addicts, and almost every day there was a breathtaking new twist: the appearance of his mysterious lover, Vera de Lavelle; his escape from prison and the manhunt to track him down; his recapture after living openly with Vera in the crowded heart of the city. The story climaxes the night before McCullough's scheduled execution, when a mob of thousands swarm below his death cell window, cheering on their man and threatening to storm the jail. Mark Johnson has constructed a lively, suspenseful, and fast-moving narrative. In addition to a fascinating character study of a killer, he captures the social mores and complexities of post World War I Canadian society, a society in upheaval, marked by violent labour unrest, preoccupied with social reform and morality, yet endlessly sentimental and intrigued by vice.
Publisher: Toronto, Ont. : M&S, c2000.
Characteristics: ix, 240 pages,  pages of plates :,illustrations, ports, maps ;,23 cm.