English (U.S. Hardcover)

The Love Pirate and the Bandit’s Son

Murder, Sin, and Scandal in the Shadow of Jesse James

Laura James

Starred Review, Booklist

Language / Publisher:
Union Square Press/Sterling


Sparks flew when gold digger Dr. Zeo Zoe Wilkins and Jesse James, Jr.—the son of America’s most legendary outlaw—crossed paths. The result: a tale of sex, deceit, money, and murder, grippingly told by noted true-crime blogger Laura James.

The beautiful Wilkins—a scheming and oft-married osteopath—was no shrinking violet; she married and probably buried five husbands (or six, according to some reports), some decades older, and all much wealthier, than she. But she was no match for the nefarious Jesse Jr., whom the author argues stabbed Zeo to death in her Kansas City home in 1924. (The murder was never officially solved.) Laura James maps out the childhood, career, and marital machinations of this ravishing “love pirate” before charting the promising but invariably disappointing life of the bandit’s only son. In the book’s third section, the two indelible characters collide, with lethal consequences for Wilkins.

Ably mixing historical conjecture with forensic fact, Laura James conducts a blow-by-blow reconstruction of their tumultuous relationship, including evidence that she believes convicts Jesse James, Jr.


Awards, Nominations, and Distinctions:

Starred Review – Booklist

Critical Praise:

This is a remarkable, rich, almost cinematically compelling story of greed. James does an excellent job...A top-flight true-crime story."--Booklist (starred review)

About the Author(s):

Laura James is a crime historian and attorney based in Detroit. An avid follower of historic true crime for more than twenty years, she is the founder of Clews: The Historic True Crime Blog, one of the top true crimes on the Web.