The Roaring '20s Tale of a Corrupt Attorney General, a Crusading Senator, and the Birth of the American Political Scandal


By Nathan Masters

Formats and Prices




$38.00 CAD

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around March 21, 2023. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

The riveting, forgotten narrative of the most corrupt attorney general in American history and the maverick senator who stopped at nothing to take him down

Many tales from the Jazz Age reek of crime and corruption. But perhaps the era’s greatest political fiasco—one that resulted in a nationwide scandal, a public reckoning at the Department of Justice, the rise of J. Edgar Hoover, and an Oscar-winning film—has long been lost to the annals of history. In Crooked, Nathan Masters restores this story of murderers, con artists, secret lovers, spies, bootleggers, and corrupt politicians to its full, page-turning glory.

Newly elected to the Senate on a promise to root out corruption, Burton "Boxcar Burt" Wheeler sets his sights on ousting Attorney General Harry Daugherty, puppet-master behind President Harding’s unlikely rise to power. Daugherty is famous for doing whatever it takes to keep his boss in power, and his cozy relations with bootleggers and other scofflaws have long spawned rumors of impropriety. But when his constant companion and trusted fixer, Jess Smith, is found dead of a gunshot wound in the apartment the two men share, Daugherty is suddenly thrust into the spotlight, exposing the rot consuming the Harding administration to a shocked public.

Determined to uncover the truth in the ensuing investigation, Wheeler takes the prosecutorial reins and subpoenas a rogue’s gallery of witnesses—convicted felons, shady detectives, disgraced officials—to expose the attorney general’s treachery and solve the riddle of Jess Smith’s suspicious death. With the muckraking senator hot on his trail, Daugherty turns to his greatest weapon, the nascent Federal Bureau of Investigation, whose eager second-in-command, J. Edgar Hoover, sees opportunity amidst the chaos.

Packed with political intrigue, salacious scandal, and no shortage of lessons for our modern era of political discord, Nathan Masters’ thrilling historical narrative shows how this intricate web of inconceivable crookedness set the stage for the next century of American political scandals.



“I’ll Get Daugherty”

Only the president and a few trusted aides knew the attorney general’s whereabouts on the morning of September 1, 1922. That he’d left the capital was public knowledge: there had been no hiding his departure the previous day as his westbound train steamed out of Washington’s Union Station. His ultimate destination, however, wasn’t quite clear, and in the midst of a nationwide railway strike that had crippled the economy and stoked fears of armed revolution, the attorney general’s absence from the District of Columbia was conspicuous. To deter questions, the Justice Department announced that he was visiting his mother’s family in Columbus, Ohio. This disinformation was credulously reported by the Washington press.

So, when Attorney General Harry Daugherty materialized in courtroom 627 of the Chicago Federal Building, striding through the side door with a thick legal document in hand, an audible tremor rattled the chamber’s marble and mahogany walls. The nation’s top lawyer rarely appeared in court and certainly never in district court proceedings such as these, so far from the capital. Now, here he was in a Windy City courtroom, interrupting a busy docket of Prohibition cases.

Spectators crowded to the front for a better look. While Daugherty’s sixty-two years showed themselves in his thinning hair and drooping jowls, he was still in his prime. He was a large man, in both body and intellect, and his presence commanded the room. Reporters scampered for the telephones. Even Judge James H. Wilkerson seemed caught up in the moment, until he finally gaveled his courtroom back to order.

“The Court observes that the Attorney General of the United States is present,” Wilkerson said. “Has he any business to bring to the attention of the Court?”

The attorney general did. As far as he was concerned, nothing less than the survival of the American republic had brought him on this secret mission to Chicago.

The nationwide strike by four hundred thousand railway shopmen, who were protesting two successive 12 percent cuts in pay, was now entering its third month. With only half the nation’s trains running, the American economy had ground to a halt. Worse, sporadic violence was breaking out between picketers and strikebreakers, and the ongoing dispute threatened to plunge the country into all-out war between labor and capital. A revolution, Daugherty believed, was exactly the aim of the Red agitators behind the strike. Now he’d come all the way to Chicago, where the union was headquartered, to bring the full weight of the American justice system down upon the strikers. By arriving under cover of darkness and appearing in the courthouse unannounced, he’d caught his enemies off guard. Not a single lawyer for the unions was present—nor was one required for this ex parte proceeding.

In his hand were fifty-one typewritten pages, completed on the long train ride from Washington. With a judge’s signature, these pages would become the most sweeping temporary restraining order ever imposed on American labor, enjoining the workers from peaceful picketing, newspaper interviews, meetings, soapbox speeches—essentially any words or actions promoting the strike, anywhere in the United States. The order would be enforced by special agents of the Bureau of Investigation, US marshals, and even army troops if necessary. It was probably unconstitutional. It was certainly unprecedented. But, Daugherty believed, it was necessary. President Warren G. Harding agreed and had given the maneuver his blessing.

“It is with great regret,” Daugherty told the court, “that I am compelled to institute this proceeding on behalf of the government.” As he presented his case, the attorney general made a great show of his reluctance, slowing upon certain words or phrases, suggesting that he wished their utterance unnecessary.

“The government of the United States,” he said, “will never lift its hand against or touch a torch to the welfare of labor in its legitimate pursuit.” But in his view, this strike was not a legitimate action—not when it stopped the trains from distributing the nation’s agricultural output. “No labor leader,” he continued, “will be permitted by the government of the United States to laugh in the frozen faces of a famishing people without prompt prosecution and proper punishment.”

When he finished, all eyes turned to Judge Wilkerson. Even the face of Abraham Lincoln, painted on a frieze high above the dais, seemed to stare expectantly. Another judge might have waited to read the briefs or hear oral arguments before granting such a sweeping injunction—especially without opposing counsel present. But Daugherty had reason to be optimistic.

The fix was in.

At least, that’s what critics would later charge. Only a few months before, Daugherty had plucked Wilkerson from the relative obscurity of the Illinois state prosecutor’s office to replace Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis, a titan of the federal judiciary who was resigning to become the first commissioner of major league baseball. With his reputation for absolute incorruptibility, Landis was thought by team owners to be the only man capable of cleaning up a sport still reeling from the Black Sox scandal, in which a gambling syndicate bought off eight members of the Chicago White Sox and fixed the 1919 World Series. Landis left big shoes to fill, but Daugherty assured President Harding that he’d found a suitable replacement.

At Daugherty’s insistence, James H. Wilkerson was nominated for the vacant seat on the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. The Senate confirmed him, as it did most low-level judicial nominees, without debate. And when Wilkerson took his oath and donned the black robe of justice for the first time, Daugherty sent an emissary, Assistant Attorney General Rush Holland, to congratulate the judge on his lifetime appointment. It was a subtle reminder of a favor owed. Now, it seemed, the attorney general had traveled to Chicago in person to collect on his debt.

From the bar, Daugherty looked hopefully toward the bench. Wilkerson granted the injunction.

DAUGHERTY’S INJUNCTION HAD its intended effect. The striking workers, their voices muffled and willpower broken, returned to their jobs. Trains steamed across America once again. And yet, his shrewd legal maneuvering would incur great political costs. The American Federation of Labor pledged revenge. The House of Representatives entertained articles of impeachment against the attorney general. Even some of Daugherty’s fellow cabinet members voiced outrage.

Like a political lightning storm, the injunction electrified the American Left. But amid the flashes and thunder over Washington and Chicago, Daugherty didn’t notice the cyclone starting to spin under the big sky of Montana.

There, news of the injunction arrived just three days after Burton Kendall Wheeler’s victory in the Democratic primary for US Senate. Wheeler was no friend to corporate interests. The forty-year-old frontier lawyer, a transplant from Massachusetts, had fearlessly battled Montana’s entrenched corporations on behalf of the powerless. He’d taken on the railroads whose excessive freight rates were bankrupting the state’s farmers. He’d fought the copper monopoly that exploited the state’s miners. When he was campaigning for governor two years earlier, his brash, uncompromising style had sometimes gotten him in trouble. Once, he narrowly escaped a lynch mob by hiding overnight in a boxcar. His refusal to bend to pressure—even the threat of death—had won him the admiration of Montana’s downtrodden. Now, running for federal office for the first time, Wheeler needed a new target for his populist ire, ideally one with a national profile. With his injunction, Harry Daugherty had stepped conveniently into Wheeler’s sights.

Along a campaign trail that took him through pine mountains and windswept prairie, Wheeler raged against the attorney general in his Yankee accent, his wily blue eyes and tousled hair accentuating his anger. He savaged his Republican opponent, Rep. Carl Riddick, for supporting “Daughertyism,” which he denounced as being “for the selfishness of Wall Street against the interests of the common people.” He reminded Montana’s working classes that he’d always been on their side. “This is your fight as well as mine,” he told a packed house in the mining town of Anaconda, “and it is up to you to say at this time whether the big interests of this nation are to have another representative in the Senate, or whether you want to send me to fight for your interest there as I have fought in this state to protect the common people against the encroachments of special privilege.”

BURTON WHEELER UNDERSTOOD his new adversary—and the potential depth of his villainy—better than most. As US attorney for the District of Montana from 1913 to 1918, Wheeler had always exercised restraint in summoning the judicial power of the United States. Amid the hysteria of the Great War, he refused to prosecute antiwar dissenters—a principled but unpopular stand that ultimately cost him his job. Prosecutors, he believed, should take great care in setting the machinery of justice into motion, especially when that machinery included jail cells and gallows trapdoors. Now, Wheeler was appalled that the nation’s prosecutor-in-chief would mobilize the criminal justice system against the striking workers, who, after all, were only resisting a wage cut. That he would imprison anyone who dared resist was beyond appalling—it was antidemocratic.

Wheeler soon invented new ways to slash at Daugherty. After the war, Congress had tasked the attorney general with prosecuting the so-called wartime fraud cases in which defense contractors systematically overcharged Washington for weapons, aircraft, and munitions. In one notorious example, the Wright-Martin Aircraft Corporation had overcharged the War Department by $2,267,342, including $91,925 for employing detectives, $844 for dinners, and $995 for cigars—despite never delivering a single warplane to the European front. Under Daugherty, however, the Justice Department had taken little action against such politically connected companies. In a new stump speech, Wheeler scorched the attorney general for “protecting the profiteers who stabbed the soldiers in the back during the war.” The veterans who packed Montana’s union halls and town squares roared their approval.

As Wheeler sharpened his populist rhetoric, he had no idea how deep Daugherty’s misbehavior might run. But he knew that the powers of an attorney general were truly awesome, constrained only by institutional norms and judicial independence. Now that the injunction had called the effectiveness of those checks into question, what was stopping Daugherty—if he really was as villainous as Wheeler imagined—from running the Justice Department as a personal vengeance machine? From weaponizing the department’s Bureau of Investigation against his political opponents? From using his discretion to investigate and prosecute for political gain? Only Congress, channeling the righteous indignation of the people, exercising its subpoena power to compel testimony and produce documentary evidence, could expose the government’s darkest secrets to sunlight.

In Washington, Daugherty was already swatting away one congressman’s feeble attempt at oversight. Rep. Oscar Keller, a prolabor Republican from Minnesota, had introduced articles of impeachment against the attorney general, only to have the tables turned at the impeachment hearings, where Keller himself was made the subject of inquiry. The congressman suffered a nervous breakdown and fled the capital before the committee could even vote to dismiss the charges against the attorney general.

Wheeler assured voters he would do better. “Have patience and leave it to me,” he promised. “I’ll get Daugherty!”

Montanans liked what they heard. On November 7, 1922, they went to the polls and sent Wheeler to the Senate by a 12 percent margin. The stage was set for a showdown that would profoundly reshape the Justice Department, the Bureau of Investigation, and even the Senate—and forever change the way political scandal played out across America.



“Something Terrible Has Happened”

Most of Washington was still asleep on the morning of Memorial Day 1923 when a gunshot rang out from a sixth-floor apartment in the fashionable Wardman Park Inn.

The first law enforcement officer on the scene was none other than William J. “Billy” Burns, director of the Bureau of Investigation. Burns, who happened to live one floor down, was the nation’s most famous detective, the twentieth century’s Allan Pinkerton, instantly recognizable in his derby hat and bristled mustache. Before taking over the agency that would later be immortalized in three initials—FBI—he’d earned a reputation as a crafty sleuth for whom no secret was unobtainable. It wasn’t a sterling reputation. It was true that he sometimes bent the rules or broke the law on a client’s behalf. For the right price, his Burns International Detective Agency could fix a jury or frame the wrong man for a crime. Nevertheless, his career was marked by real triumph. As a US Secret Service agent, he tracked down the most accomplished counterfeiter in American history, a forger so good that even the Treasury thought his creations were genuine. As a private eye, he solved the infamous 1910 bombing of the Los Angeles Times building, which he proved to be an act of domestic terrorism by prounion extremists against a stoutly antiunion institution. Now, Burns took command of what was, politically speaking, an even more explosive crime scene.

Inside the bedroom of suite 600-E, Burns found the body of a man named Jess Smith, fifty, crumpled at the foot of one of two beds. In his right hand was a .32-caliber revolver. A single bullet had plowed through Smith’s right temple and lodged itself high in a doorjamb. Blood soaked Smith’s purple silk pajamas, as well as the heavy carpets that must have deadened his fall. Most disturbingly, Smith’s head had apparently fallen so that it was now stuffed, improbably, inside a metal wastebasket, atop the ashes of burned papers.

This was clearly a matter for the local authorities, but Burns knew better than to summon the police immediately. The situation called for discretion, for few in Washington had known as much as the man who now lay before him in a bloody heap.

IF JESS SMITH wasn’t the only man to wield influence from the shadows of Prohibition-era Washington, at least he was the best connected. Smith dined regularly at the White House. He served as secretary of Warren Harding’s inaugural committee. And he was most intimate friends with the attorney general of the United States—his roommate at the Wardman Park.

Daugherty was not home that fateful morning. The attorney general had been absent the past two nights and, at the moment, was still sound asleep in the Yellow Bedroom, the White House guest room named for its blond decor. Knowing that Smith couldn’t sleep when they weren’t sharing a room, Daugherty had dispatched his Justice Department assistant, Barney Martin, to stay in the adjacent bedroom. It was Martin who had fetched Burns after hearing a great crash in the other room.

Jesse Worley Smith and Harry Micajah Daugherty had grown up together in Washington Court House, Ohio, the county seat of rural Fayette County and a thriving business center on the road between Columbus and Cincinnati. Although Daugherty was eleven years Smith’s senior, they formed a close bond. Both their fathers died when they were young, and the two boys filled the holes in their hearts with each other’s company. Smith never strayed far from Daugherty’s side. Townsfolk took to calling him “Jess Daugherty.”

Brotherly, however, was too easy a label to affix to their relationship. Indeed, it only began to describe the intense bond. Though each man had married—Smith’s marriage at age thirty-six to nineteen-year-old Roxie Stinson had lasted two short years, while Daugherty’s invalid wife Lucie now rarely left her quarters at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore—they clearly treasured each other above all else.

“THEY WERE THE most intimate friends,” Stinson, Smith’s ex-wife, later recalled, “and Jess adored him. He lived for him, he loved him.”

“A word of praise or an expression of appreciation from the attorney general would cause Jess to ‘purr’ happily,” an acquaintance once observed.

The affection was clearly mutual. When Smith once traveled back to Ohio without Daugherty, the attorney general sent a flurry of telegrams professing his loneliness and urging Smith’s prompt return. Smith wired back, signing his cables “your little friend, Jesse.”

That unusual intimacy inevitably spawned rumors of a sexual component to their relationship, and Smith only fanned the gossip with his sartorial choices. No matter what room he entered, Smith, tall and portly, with a close-cropped mustache, pink jowls, and round, owlish glasses, was always the best-dressed man. At one public appearance, he was described as a “symphony of gray and lavender,” and he made a habit of matching the color of his handkerchief to his tie—which just so happened to be how gay men of the day signaled their availability to each other, safely and covertly. If Smith and Daugherty actually were lovers, no evidence survives, but those closest to them—the Hardings, for instance—always treated them as “a duo.”

Whatever the exact nature of their relationship, Daugherty considered Smith indispensable, and not just because of their intimacy or because Smith carried his bags and opened his doors. What Smith lacked in intellectual refinement—his education stopped at high school, and he was a voracious reader of detective stories but little else—he made up for in jolly extroversion. He was never afraid to buttonhole a passerby on the courthouse square with a “whaddyaknow?” And despite his unfortunate habit of spraying listeners with saliva—“here comes Jess Smith,” people would say, “get out your umbrella”—he excelled at making friends. As the less socially adept Daugherty grew in political stature and began venturing outside his native Ohio, Smith helped him navigate black-tie affairs, as well as the bawdier gatherings where the real political dealmaking happened.

Likewise, what Smith lacked in political experience—before coming east he spent his entire career in retail as proprietor of Washington Court House’s department store—he made up for in unwavering loyalty. Basking in his friend’s reflected glory, Smith would never jeopardize Daugherty’s career by spilling their secrets, lest he jeopardize his own sense of self-worth. He was an airtight receptacle for confidential musings, and the attorney general entrusted him with his most sensitive errands.

When in late 1919 fifty-nine-year-old Daugherty was named campaign manager for the long-shot presidential bid of Warren Harding, Smith made one of the first donations. By the time the long-shot candidate won the Republican nomination and then the White House, Smith had been admitted to Harding’s inner circle. He abandoned his department store, his life’s work, and relocated with Daugherty to the capital, where they took up temporary lodgings in a house at 1509 H Street owned by millionaire Ned McLean, publisher of the Washington Post. The president-elect considered appointing Smith commissioner of Indian Affairs or treasurer of the United States—two positions he was grossly unqualified for—but there was only one place he wanted to be. Shortly after Harry Daugherty was sworn in as the nation’s fifty-first attorney general on March 5, 1921, Jess Smith followed him to the sixth floor of the Justice Department building and ensconced himself in an anteroom just outside the attorney general’s private office.

Though he refused a place on the government payroll, he was a common sight inside Justice headquarters, dictating letters to department secretaries, flitting in and out of the Bureau of Investigation’s offices on the third floor, and riding down the elevator with a bundle of official files under his arm. He could also be seen shuttling back and forth to the green limestone house on K Street where Daugherty’s Ohio friends kept their political patronage files—a comprehensive record of who was owed what—and dispensed favors to friends of the administration.

That he enjoyed unparalleled access to the levers of power and political influence was widely known. Exactly what Jess Smith did with that access, however, remained a Washington mystery.

THAT MAY MORNING in the Wardman Park, Burns made a cursory search of the body. He removed the revolver from Smith’s hand and then went through his pajama pockets. Inside one he found a last will, scribbled in pencil on Wardman Park stationery and dated two days prior. Burns then summoned the hotel manager, Elmer Dwyer. If he was to maintain control of the scene, he would need Dwyer’s cooperation.

“Will you please come to Mr. Daugherty’s apartment immediately?” Burns said over the phone. “Something terrible has happened.”

Dwyer soon appeared outside the apartment in his dressing gown and slippers. Before the manager had a chance to press the buzzer, Burns opened the door and motioned Dwyer inside. Burns didn’t need to explain anything—he simply led the manager to the crime scene.

The delicacy of the situation must not have immediately impressed itself upon Dwyer. “I’d better call Dr. Shoenfeld,” he said, referring to the Wardman Park’s house doctor.

“No,” Burns snapped. “That can wait.” Instead, Burns picked up the telephone and asked the operator for the White House. It was not yet seven in the morning, so there was some delay before the president finally came on the line.

“This is Burns of the Bureau of Investigation, Mr. President. I’m deeply sorry to bother you at such an hour, but there is dreadful news and I wanted you to be the first to hear it.”

Harding demanded that Burns spit it out.

“Jesse Smith has committed suicide.”

The line went silent. “That’s terrible, Mr. Burns,” Harding finally said. “Simply terrible.”

As Dwyer listened on, the president urged secrecy until he had a chance to break the news to Daugherty personally. Harding also suggested that Lieutenant Commander Joel T. Boone, a navy physician seconded to the White House, be ordered to the scene.

And so it was that the president’s personal doctor, rather than the District of Columbia coroner, made the first medical examination of Jess Smith’s body. Boone immediately declared Smith dead (a self-evident conclusion) and just as quickly judged the cause to suicide (a less obvious one).

Only after Burns had searched the room and Boone had inspected the body were other investigators admitted to the crime scene. Dwyer summoned the Wardman Park’s house detective (named, in an incredible coincidence, Harry J. Dougherty), who in turn alerted police at the local Tennallytown subprecinct.

When officers finally arrived, followed by Coroner J. Ramsay Nevitt, no one dared to remark that the revolver had gone missing. Burns had apparently “misplaced” it—but he was not a man to trifle with, even if he was tampering with a crime scene.

One detail could not escape notice, however. “How,” Patrolman L. R. Keech asked, “could a man shoot himself and then get his head in the basket?”

The officer’s question was never answered. Lording over the crime scene, the director of the Bureau of Investigation discouraged a thorough search of the forensic evidence. Instead, Burns offered up a compelling narrative of suicide for the DC authorities. He and Smith had been socially acquainted, and Smith, he reported, had suffered from chronic diabetes. Boone, who had treated Smith himself on occasion and knew that a wound from his recent appendectomy had never quite healed, backed up Burns’s conclusion, ascribing the act to “brooding over his physical condition.” Coroner Nevitt knelt down next to the body, noted the powder burns around the entry wound, and dutifully signed a certificate of suicide.


  • "In Crooked, Nathan Masters weaves together a sordid story of deep and pervasive rot at the Department of Justice... In Mr. Masters’s telling, the investigation has all the makings of a great film plot, complete with theatrical witnesses, twists, turns and a conclusive, if slightly maddening ending."—Wall Street Journal
  • “An enlightening look at American political scandals in the 1920s, which continue to shape how politics is played to this day.”—Star Tribune
  • “Masters makes an impressive book debut with a brisk, lively history of a political scandal, ‘one of those Roaring Twenties spectacles…that held the entire nation spellbound.’…Drawing on extensive archival research, [he] creates a tense narrative peopled by colorful, often unsavory characters…A stirring look at a shameful episode that holds distressing relevance for today.”—Kirkus
  • “Although the events took place many decades ago, the story is as timely now as it ever was, and Masters brings it to pulsing life. Wheeler, Daugherty, and the various supporting players (including J. Edgar Hoover, before the world knew who he was) emerge as fully fleshed-out people, and the story is as exciting as any political thriller.”—Booklist
  • CROOKED is the fascinating tale about how a freshman senator from Montana took down one of the most corrupt and powerful Attorney Generals in US history. The fight between Senator ‘Boxcar Burt’ Wheeler and Attorney General Harry Daugherty led to the principles underlying the Department of Justice and the role of congressional oversight that we rely upon today. Filled with a cast of colorful characters and crimes and scandals galore, CROOKED is narrative history at its best.”—Janet Napolitano, former Secretary of Homeland Security and US Attorney for Arizona
  • “Readers should be forgiven if they find CROOKED, Nathan Masters’s riveting account of a wild political scandal, too fantastic a story to be true. Yet it is true, and filled with the sort of amusing absurdities and eccentric characters—savvy bootleggers, scheming detectives, con artists, spies, and unscrupulous and opportunistic officials—that could only have occurred and existed during the Roaring Twenties. CROOKED depicts this fascinating era (with its many uncanny modern-day parallels) with such precision and verve that I couldn’t put it down.”—Abbott Kahler, New York Times bestselling author (as Karen Abbott) of The Ghosts of Eden Park
  • “Nathan Masters delivers a powerful and thrilling nonfiction debut, packed with larger-than-life government officials and scheming operatives. Through groundbreaking research and sparkling prose, CROOKED unveils a page-turning origin story of political scandal.”—Matthew Pearl, New York Times bestselling author of The Dante Club and The Taking of Jemima Boone
  • "Nathan Masters' deeply researched tale of Teapot Dome, the presidential scandal that would define political scandal for fifty years, is filled with strange, colorful characters and puts the reader right in the middle of one of the wildest stories in American political history."—Garrett M. Graff, New York Times bestselling author of Watergate: A New History
  • "Nathan Masters' CROOKED unfolds like a gripping mystery novel, only the plot and characters are real and the power struggles reach the top levels of Washington's power elite. A Senate investigation that riveted the country, accusations of corruption in the justice department, a politically-convenient suicide in which the facts don't add up, the country's greatest detective, a red-haired key witness named Roxie—this story is missing nothing. It's also an important story about our nation's past and about the workings of government. Well done, Mr. Masters."—A.J. Baime, New York Times bestselling author of The Accidental President

On Sale
Mar 21, 2023
Page Count
384 pages
Hachette Books

Nathan Masters

About the Author

NATHAN MASTERS has hosted and produced the Emmy Award-winning public television series Lost L.A. since 2016 and is the author of hundreds of arti­cles about Los Angeles history. He works at the USC Libraries and lives in the mountains of Southern Cal­ifornia with his wife, author and television writer Kseniya Melnik, and their two children. Crooked is his first book.


Learn more about this author