By J.D. Chandler
The History Press, $19.99, 127 pages
Portlanders will never look at their town quite the same way after reading Murder & Mayhem in Portland Oregon by JD Chandler. Delving into the sordid history from 1858 to 1945, Chandler unearths societal concerns even more troubling than the revenge seekers, public executions, serial killers and well-organized local crime organizations: misogyny, racism, poverty and the mishandling of justice by often corrupt lawmen.
“The violence of the Old West that is pervasively portrayed in the movies and popular literature is mostly a myth. The truth is that western cities, such as Portland, became more violent the farther they got from pioneer days.”
Chandler is at his best when he’s able to narrow into a specific area of town so the reader can visualize the social, industrial, structural and population change that have occurred in one location over the decades. Photos not only show some of the killers, victims, and lawmen but also the surprising growth of the city within a short time span.
Murder & Mayhem is a good reminder that even in a city as young as Portland there’s no neighborhood untouched by the blood and sweat of our predecessors, and this is just a small sampling of the most infamous crimes.
Reviewed by Sarah Hutchins