Dark Hearts of Chicago

in collaboration with the novelist William Horwood

“The razzmatazz of the [World’s] Fair is colourful, the feminist heroine attractive…the description of  nineteenth-century Chicago is atmospheric… an excellent if unexpected thriller.”

literary review

Dark Hearts of Chicago

When young, inexperienced but very ambitious female reporter Emily Strauss bluffs her way into newspaper magnate Joseph Pulitzer’s office, she comes away with a treacherous assignment: to find out what happened to Anna Zemeckis, one of many women who have disappeared during the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago. With the support of a young man who is just venturing into the burgeoning trade of news photography, Emily soon finds herself in a race against time to save Anna’s life and to bring her story back to New York before Pulitzer’s tough deadline expires.

19th century Chicago is a place of dangerous contrasts. Most obviously there is all the glitz and razzmatazz of the Fair itself and the spectacular wealth and influence of a new middle-class elite. But Emily must also come face-to-face with the rival ethnic groups, the sinister underworld of pornography and prostitution, as well as the ruthless meatpacking giants of the Union Stock Yard who control the lives and destinies of so many of Chicago’s immigrant poor.

For Helen’s article on the inspiration behind this novel see the article The Pioneer Women Journalists who Inspired a Novel at the bottom of this page


The short chapters and tight plot invoke a cold dread in the reader from the very beginning.

Daily Telegraph


With a strong plot and a vividly-created picture of the era, there’s more than a whiff of Gang’s of New York…and you know how good that was.

Daily Sport


Combining the pace and excitement of a Dan Brown book, with exhaustive research that takes you deep into the bold, corrupt world of Chicago, this is a big doorstep of a treat.

Good Book Guide

You may also like:

Latest Articles and Media about Women’s History

Lizzie Lind-af-Hageby

In the 1900s, a Swedish-born pacifist and women’s and animal rights campaigner, Louise Lind-af-Hageby appeared regularly in the British press for her frequent run-ins with the medical establishment. But who remembers this remarkable woman now?

Women in Trousers — From Bloomers to Rational Dress

The 1848 Women’s Rights Convention was the first of its kind to openly advocate women’s dress reform. All of the assembled women agreed that the time had come for the simplification of the cumbrous fashions they were obliged to wear.

The Pioneer Women Journalists who Inspired a Novel

In the late nineteenth century an extraordinary breed of new journalists appeared on the scene in America. The world had seen nothing like them before. They were young, feisty, courageous and iconoclastic – and they were women.

Beautiful For Ever: the True Story of Madame Rachel

Madame Rachel promised her clients that she would make them ‘Beautiful For Ever!’ But what they found inside her beguiling oriental boudoir with its latticed screens, lavish oriental wall hangings, splashing fountain and heavy crimson drapes, was something far darker…

The Women in Lenin’s Life

Lenin had no qualms whatsoever in ruthlessly exploiting the loyalty of the women who formed his essential back up team. He wore them all ragged in the cause of his own political ends.

You can find more videos, podcasts and other media on the topic of the Women’s History on Helen’s main page for this area of expertise HERE

Sign up for Stories From the Footnotes of History

Please fill in this form to receive the latest stories in my Footnotes series — on hidden or little known & previously unpublished stories that I've uncovered during my research.

I will also send you regular updates in this newsletter about my work and speaking events.