Deadly Valentines

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More About This Title Deadly Valentines


Almost before the gunsmoke from the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre cleared, Chicago police had a suspect: Jack McGurn. They just couldn’t find him. McGurn, whose real name was Vincent Gebardi, was Al Capone’s chief assassin, a baby-faced Sicilian immigrant and professional killer of professional killers. But two weeks after the murders, police found McGurn and his paramour, Louise May Rolfe, holed up downtown at the Stevens Hotel. Both claimed they were in bed on the morning of the famous shootings, a titillating alibi that grabbed the public’s attention and never let go.

Deadly Valentines tells one of the most outrageous stories of the 1920s, a twin biography of a couple who defined the extremes and excesses of the Prohibition era in America. McGurn was a prizefighter, professional-level golfer, and the ultimate urban predator and hit man who put the iron in Al Capone’s muscle. Rolfe, a beautiful blonde dancer and libertine, was the epitome of fashion, rebellion, and wild abandon in the new jazz subculture. They were the prototypes for decades of gangster literature and cinema, representing a time that has never lost its allure.


Jeffrey Gusfield, a native Chicagoan, has researched the history of Jack McGurn, Louise Rolfe, and the Capone years for more than four decades.


"[Gusfield] vividly tells the twisted, yet somehow moving love story of an iconic American gangster and his sexy, nutty gun moll. Told with a driving, you-are-there narrative, it's a rigorous, sometimes astonishing, and consistently entertaining performance."  —Douglas Perry, author of The Girls of Murder City: Fame, Lust, and the Beautiful Killers Who Inspired Chicago

 "Authoritative, fast-moving, and affecting,  Deadly Valentines tells a compelling true-life gangland saga that is loaded with action and, not least, the ache of romance. "  —Howard Blum, author of  American Lightning: Terror, Mystery, the Birth of Hollywood, and the Crime of the Century"Skilled researcher and empathetic writer Gusfield steers us into the private world of Al Capone and the pugilist-turned-killer, Jack McGurn – their clannish roots and gangland alliances – and explores the Machiavellian power that Capone directs toward McGurn and his failed dream of ringside glory.  If the underworld ever produced an American tragedy, this is it."  —Ellen Poulsen, author of Don't Call Us Molls: Women of the John Dillinger Gang and The Case Against Lucky Luciano:  New York's Most Sensational Vice Trial"Jeffrey Gusfield's Deadly Valentines is an encyclopedic love letter to the Roaring Twenties as embodied in its title characters, Jack McGurn and Louise Rolfe, each of whom succumbed to the seductive flash and drunken abandon of each other and the dark side of the American Dream. "  Paula Uruburu, author of American Eve: Evelyn Nesbit, Stanford White: The Birth of the "It" Girl and the Crime of the Century

"[Deadly Valentines is] a masterful attempt to find the facts about [McGurn], his second wife and alibi Louise Rolfe, and the events related to them. Gusfield is an engaging storyteller."  —John Binder, author of The Chicago Outfit

  "Deadly Valentines is not just a story of gangsters and guns, but of a love story that still captivates to this very day."  —Dan Waugh, author of Egan's Rats and Gangs of St. Louis: Men of Respect"A thoroughly researched and colorful account." —Publishers Weekly"[Deadly Valentines] is an engrossing look inside Al Capone's murderous ranks [and] a lively, detailed history of gangland Chicago." —Kirkus Reviews