Chester sentenced to die in the electric chair

Grace Brown

Chester Gillette

Chester testifies at his trial in Herkimer NY

The Jury

Books about the Gillette Case
MITA cover  
New! Hardcover Centennial Edition!

Murder in the Adirondacks: An American Tragedy Revisited

by Craig Brandon

(North Coutnry Books, 1986, 380 pages, 95 illustrations, $32.50 hardcover. ISBN 0-932052-58-4 ). Revised edition with new introudction by the author. April 2006.
 Part true-crime story, part local history and part social commentary, "Murder in the Adirondacks" tells the true story of the 1906 Chester Gillette - Grace Brown murder case that was the basis for Theodore Dreiser's 1926 novel "An American Tragedy" and the movie "A Place in the Sun." 

Now in its 13th printing, the book is a perennial best seller in the Adirondacks and has been praised by Dreiser scholars and historians as the best version of the story, which was once front-page news all over the country. Using local newspaper articles, the trial transcripts and letters and documents that remained hidden away for decades, Brandon tells the story of Brown and Gillette, describes the sensational trial and then explains how the story was turned into a legend, complete with ghost stories and folk songs. 

Selected by North Country Reads for community reading project in 2006.

Selected by Amsterdam NY "Amsterdam Reads" in 2009.

"I am deeply indebted to Craig Brandon for "Murder in the Adirondacks." 
                         Richard Lingeman, executive editor of The Nation, author of 
                                Theodore Dreiser: An American Journey. 

"An excellent case history."
                            David K. Frazier,
                              author of Murder Cases of the Twentieth Century.

"Well researched and readable." 
                     Rochester Times Union 

"Murder in the Adirondacks is well crafted and absorbing, capable of delivering a few surprises." 
                          New York Alive 

"Certainly this was the most notorious crime in the history of the Adirondacks...Brandon has done a thorough job of researching all the available records...and then weaving an exciting narrative that holds one's attention completely." 
                     Adirondac Magazine 

"Murder in the Adirondacks is more haunting for its detail and truth than any of the legends that sprung from Big Moose Lake." 
                     John D. Hubbard, Oneida Dispatch 

"Brandon's writing is straight and informative...the book will be around for a long time." 
                         Dick Case, Syracuse Herald American 

"It's an incredible story" 
                          Paul MacEnroe, WUTR-TV Utica 

"A more definitive account is unlikely...Brandon's attention to details raise Murder in the Adirondacks to a level equal to Truman Capote's In Cold Blood." 
                         Owen McNamara, professor of English, Herkimer Telegram 

"Tells not only a true story, but a good story." 
                     Jarlath Hamrock, Ithaca Times 

"Love, sex, murder and mystery are the ingredients of best-selling fiction, but rarely are they the subject of local history publications. Craig Brandon's Murder in the Adirondacks is the interesting exception to this...local history at its most fascinating." 
                             Leslie C. O'Malley, Ph.D,  The Association Quarterly 

"An exciting tale...Brandon has given us a very important document, which will have a permanent place in Dreiser studies." 
                             Philip L. Gerber, professor of English, SUNY Brockport, 
                             Dreiser Quarterly 

"Leaving out few details, Brandon keeps the story mode on a fascinating level." 
                        Larry Hart, Schenectady Gazette

Murder in the Adirondacks  is avaiable from your local bookseller as well as directly from the publisher, North Country Books (315) 342-7409 or by e-mail at


Grace Brown's Love Letters

edited and annotated by Craig Brandon

Every word of the famous correspondance between Grace Brown and Chester Gillette from 1905 and 1906.  Read the words that infatuated the nation when they were read at Gillette's murder trial. Complete with extensive footnotes on the possible hidden meanings of what they were actually saying to each other, a chart of the dates of the letters and a new introduction by the author. Twenty photos, including actual photos of the letters and the envelopes. New edition includes Grace Brown's 1902 diary.

Surry Cottage Books, Second Edition. 96 pages, large format 8 1/2 by 11 $19.99



The Prison Diaries and Letters of Chester Gillette

Edited by Jack Sherman and Craig Brandon

Nearly a century after his death in the electric chair, the diary that Chester Gillette kept in his cell in Auburn Prison has been made public by his surviving relatives. Beginning after he has settled in to prison life and ending just minutes before his execution, the diary reveals Gillette's innermost thoughts about a variety of topics as he slowly begins to realize that his life will soon come to an end.

Published by Richard W. Cowper Press, 193 pages, 5 1/2 X1 8 1/2 paperback, ISBN 9780979644818, $25. Published December, 2007. Available by mail order from Surry Cottage Books.