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“Duel With the Devil”: Murder in Old New York

Crime and punishment: Dostoyevsky was far from the only writer to recognize how much a society reveals about itself in the way it handles both. For novelists, a detective can serve as a roving eye, licensed to peer into the secrets of every social stratum, while a trial, with its pitched adversaries and high stakes, becomes a dramatic way to decide not only what happened but who, if anyone, is to blame.

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