LOVERS' LANE: THE HALL-MILLS MYSTERY
Lovers’ Lane: The Hall-Mills Mystery
By Rick Geary
80 6x9-inch pages
The newspaper sensation of 1922 was the double-murder of the Reverend Edward W. Hall and Mrs. Eleanor Mills, whose bodies were found, lying side-by-side, his arm around her shoulders, her hand on his thigh, in “lovers’ lane” in New Brunswick, New Jersey. She was a singer in Hall’s church; her husband, the church sexton. Most of the congregation knew the preacher and the singer were having an affair, and it was supposed, after a second autopsy revealed that Mrs. Mills’ tongue and larynx had been cut out, that the killings were committed by someone jealous of her musical role in the church. More likely, I would think, the message was: you won’t need these organs if you’re sleeping with the boss because sex is getting you what you want. Hall’s widow was eventually, four years later, brought to trial, but she was acquitted. The murderer has never been found.Geary performs his usual masterful job of methodically presenting the circumstances surrounding the crime, the personalities of the people involved, and the evidence in the case. I knew about the ostensible “eye witness,” dubbed the Pig Woman by the press because she raised pigs in her farm near Lovers’ Lane; but I’d never heard about Mills’ missing organs. As always, Geary’s manner, both visually and narratively, is rigorously deadpan: his carefully construed pictures, meticulously shaded with a variety of textures, impart to the proceedings a suitable aura of menace with their portraits of the haunted-looking participants. He finishes the book by examining several possible explanations for the murders; none, however, entirely plausible.