Summer 1948. In the scenic, remote river town of Oregon, Illinois,
a young couple visiting the local lovers’ lane is murdered. The shocking
crime garners headlines from Portland, Maine, to Long Beach, California.
But after a sweeping manhunt, no one is arrested and the violent deaths
of Mary Jane Reed and Stanley Skridla fade into time’s indifference.
Fast forward fifty years. Eccentric entrepreneur Michael Arians moves
to Oregon, opens a roadhouse, gets elected mayor, and becomes obsessed
with the crime. He comes up with a scandalous conspiracy theory and starts
to believe that Mary Jane’s ghost is haunting his establishment. He also
reaches out to the Chicago Tribune for help.
Arians’s letter falls on the desk of general assignment reporter Ted Gregory.
For the next thirteen years, while he ricochets from story to story and his
newspaper is deconstructed around him, Gregory remains beguiled by the
case of the teenaged telephone operator Mary Jane and twenty-eight-year-old
Navy vet Stanley—and equally fascinated by Arians’s seemingly hopeless
pursuit of whoever murdered them. Mary Jane’s Ghost is the story of these
Born Scott Frederick Turow, April 12, 1949 (age 68),
Chicago, Illinois ,United States
Occupation Novelist, lawyer; Alma mater Amherst College, Stanford University
Harvard Law School; Genre Fiction , legal thrillers
“Mary Jane’s Ghost is a wonderful book, fast-paced and incisive,
about two mysterious deaths-that of a young couple in a small
Illinois town nearly seventy years ago, and also of American
investigative journalism in recent times.”
(Scott Turow, author, Testimony)
Rick Kogan is a Chicago newspaperman,
a Chicago radio personality and a noted author.
Born: September 13, 1951 (age 65 years), Chicago, IL
“One of our most talented newspaper reporters and writers, Ted
Gregory gives us his first book and it is a winner in every conceivable way. Powerful and personal, it is true crime storytelling at its most compelling and expansive, filled with intimate details, historical substance, and memorable characters.” (Rick Kogan)
Until stepping down in 2011, Richard Babcock was the longtime
editor in chief of Chicago magazine. Before that, he spent more
than a decade as a top editor at New York magazine. He is the
author of the best-selling Kindle Singles stories “My Wife’s Story”
and “Ah, Rat.” Are You Happy Now? (2012) is Babcock’s third
novel, after Martha Calhoun (1988) and Bow’s Boy (2002).
Raised in Woodstock, Illinois, Babcock graduated from Dartmouth
College and the University of Michigan Law School. He lives in Chicago.
He has taught at Medill, Knox College, the Savannah College of Art and
Design, and Loyola University Chicago.
“Ted Gregory’s fascinating reinvestigation of an unsolved lovers’ lane double murder- a rural Illinois Black Dahlia case-not only brings texture and insight to an intriguing mystery, but serves as a tribute to the pleasures of a threatened occupation, the newspaper reporter.”
(Richard Babcock, former editor, Chicago magazine)
Mary Theresa Schmich is an American journalist who has
been a columnist for the Chicago Tribune from 1992,
winning the Pulitzer Prize in 2012.
Born: November 29, 1953 (age 63 years), Savannah, GA
Awards: Pulitzer Prize for Commentary
Education: Pomona College , Harvard University
Nominations : Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing
“Mary Jane’s Ghost is part detective story, part road trip, and part rumination on the nature of modern newspapers. I loved Ted Gregory’s witty, graceful writing, his quest to figure out
who killed Mary Jane, and the way he makes us ponder the big mystery: Why do we need stories anyway?”
(Mary Schmich, Chicago Tribune columnist, author, Even the Terrible Things Seem Beautiful to Me Now)