Apologies to Flora/Florence

Note: I originally published this as a Twitter thread and have edited slightly here.

A few weeks back I was reading some old emails when I realized that I’d made a mistake in a review I wrote in Issue #59 (p. 33) of Weird NJ, of Takers Mad, the Audible Original Drama written by Luke Jerod Kummer. It turns out that the protagonist of the story, Flora, is not fictional as I described. She was in fact a real person, Florence Moloso Riis.

Florence was the daughter-in-law of “the famous muckraking journalist Jacob Riis” who played a part in getting Ameer Ben Ali exonerated for the 1891 murder of Carrie Brown – the murder around which Takers Mad revolves.

While it was made clear from the outset of my correspondence with Luke that Flora was real, over the course of a few months it fell off my radar. She seemed to me to be too real to be real, if that makes sense. Historical fiction well-told, and I’m always impressed by writers who can pull it off.

The story is based on Luke’s research plus new evidence he found in the historical case. Some elements are dramatized, and he says there’s use of “other conventions of the historical fiction genre for the sake of pacing, plotting, etc.” He also made use of “1891 trial transcripts, Ameer Ben Ali’s inquest, archival artifacts and correspondences I unearthed, newspaper clippings, etc.”

But it’s a happy accident, because it led me to look Florence up online, where I found one of her stories, “One Woman,” preserved on the National Library of New Zealand website, which you can read here:

And it’s also a chance to promote the story again, which is an excellent mystery that partly takes place in New Jersey (no spoilers!). You should check it out!

Listen to this story!

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