Ted Gregory's Off-Topic Reads

October 4th, 2017

Ted Gregory is a Pulitzer-prize winning reporter at the Chicago Tribune and co-author of three books: The Leadership Code (November 2017), To Chase A Dream (2014), and Our Black Year (2012). His first solo effort, Mary Jane’s Ghost, is an offbeat, true-crime saga that centers on one man’s obsession to solve a lovers lane double murder that occurred back in 1948 in scenic Oregon, Ill. To paraphrase one reviewer, the book is part detective story, part road trip and part rumination on newspapers and our need for stories. Gregory lives near Chicago with his family. Ted Gregory discusses Mary Jane's Ghost on Wednesday 10/11, 6pm at 57th Street Books.


Beloved, off-topic books:

The Lost City of Z, by David Grann

Confederates in the Attic, by Tony Horwitz

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, by John Berendt

Seabiscuit, by Laura Hillenbrand

Father and Son, by Larry Brown

Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter

Get Shorty, Out of Sight, Tishomingo Blues and nearly anything else by Elmore Leonard

Catch-22, by Joseph Heller


About Mary Jane's Ghost: 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 two odysseys.

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